DON'T be fooled... beneath the rakish lines, low slung stance and deep air dams of the Civic Sport Line is a miniscule 1.0-litre motor that a few years ago would have been considered laughable in anything more potent than a lawn mower.
But the latest breed of small three and four cylinder engines are altogether different.
And the Honda Civic's Sport Line, with looks that mimic the monstrously fast Civic Type R, proves to be a worthwhile addition to the range.
It is, if you like, a Type R without the guts...but the dynamic handling, fabulous gearbox and great build quality are all there in bucket loads.
With a modest 126bhp to play with, together with beefy suspension and a fluid yet firm ride, there's more fun to be had than with many much more powerful saloons.
As you'd expect for a family hatch with a price tag of nearly Â£26,000, it's well decked out with bespoke black polished 17-inch alloy wheels, subtle bodykit, a new compact spoiler, electric glass sliding roof and a posh cabin that includes heated leather seats with red stitching, sat nav, climate control and touchscreen entertainment centre.
The screen is a bit fiddly to use but there are now short-cut buttons on the right hand-side that make life easier, especially on the move.
On the practical front, the current Civic scores highly. You sit quite low but there's no shortage of legroom front or rear, and the boot, which holds 478 litres of luggage, is among the biggest in its sector with a useful under floor stowage space to hide valuables.
Visibility front and side is good, but the sloping rear screen and the tilted back spoiler tend to impair the view behind a tad.
The turbo three-cylinder unit emits a distinctive but not unpleasant ‘thrum' that remains smooth throughout the rev band. Coupled to possible the slickest six-speed manual gearbox you'll find this side of Â£50,000, it's a pleasure to extract power from the little engine.
Acceleration to 62mph in a leisurely 11 seconds is hardly going to set the Tarmac alight, but with plenty of torque and a tuneful engine note it feels noticeably more brisk.
With front drive and beefy low profile tyres there's no shortage of grip for quick cornering and the stiff build allows the Civic to respond quickly and precisely to changes of direction. It's the sort of car that's easy and satisfying to interact with.
Fitted with adaptive dampers, it reacts well to surface changes and most imperfections are soaked up without the irritation of body roll or noticeable vertical suspension movement. In other words it swallows up bends like a thoroughbred.