IT'S 50 years since the Honda Civic first appeared and to mark its Golden Jubilee the Japanese car maker is releasing the 11 generation model.
Hybrid only, the new Civic is powered by the most powerful iteration of Honda's e:HEV petrol-electric powertrain similar to that used in its latest SUVs.
The latest Civic also looks much more refined than its predecessors with sleek lines, a lower profile and a stylish rear replacing the rather abrupt tailgate used on more recent versions.
It is a sea change for the car which since its launch in 1972 has notched up more than 27.5 million sales around the world.
Honda describes the newcomer as a ‘driver's hybrid' and there is no doubt that the set up is highly competent.
It is more economical than the previous 1.0-litre model, develops more power than the 1.5-litre petrol turbo version and has more torque than the 1.6-litre diesel used in the last generation Civic.
In fact, we saw an average of 56 miles to the gallon on a good drive on varied country roads and that bettered the official figure of just over 50mpg by a commendable margin.
That is testimony to Honda's engineering prowess as the brand completes the electrification of its current models and heads towards a low emission future that includes some 30 electrified models by 2030.
The new Civic will be arriving in the UK in October and will be priced from £29,595 for entry-level versions in Elegance trim.
Mid-range Sport models start from £30,095 with range topping Advance grade Civics costing from £32,995.
The car is built in Japan following the closure of Honda's UK factory in Swindon where the previous model was produced and it is some 30cm longer at 4.55 metres but is lower and has a wheelbase extended to 2.73 metres.
Lightweight construction with a resin tailgate and an aluminium bonnet help on the economy front while the car is full five-seater, roomy inside and with a good-sized boot that ranges in capacity from 410 to 1,220 litres.
Four drive modes are available to get the best out of the car while letting the driver have some fun and in the Sport setting there is added noise - albeit artificial - from the exhaust.
There are also normal, eco and individual settings and paddle shifters are fitted either side of the steering wheel to alter the amount of energy regeneration under braking.
A push-button gear selector and electronic parking brake - with an automatic hold setting - are standard and the e-CVT transmission is sharp and responsive.
The hybrid system is fully automatic and does what is best for whatever the driver demands - and it works precisely, without fuss.
Top range Active models get a larger central display screen among other features including a panoramic sunroof, adaptive headlights and leather upholstery.
A new-look - and very comprehensive - LED instrument panel is standard across the line-up with a horizontal layout for the dashboard that sees a honeycomb mesh for the air vents running across the width of the car.
From a comfort perspective the new Civic excels and not only is it well proportioned front and rear it is also very quiet on the road.
It starts off silent running in EV mode with the 2.0-litre engine cutting in as needed but reverts to zero emission running whenever possible.
On our run that was surprisingly frequently which aided economy and keeps emissions down with the car officially rated at a best of 108g/km.
Performance figures from the 181bhp powertrain are a 0 to 62mph acceleration time ranging from 7.8 seconds to 8.1 seconds depending on trim with top speeds of 112mph.
All versions of the new Civic are fitted with the Honda Sensing array of safety systems which include a new lane keeping set up and a traffic jam sensitive automatic cruise control as well sonar sensors front and rear to help avoid collisions and a wide-view camera system to detect potential hazards.
In every perspective the latest Civic will put Honda well on course to compete in the new wave of electrified motoring with a car that is not only good-looking but with splendid performance that will satisfy every kind of motorist.