New Civic set to

delight Honda fans

Honda Civic, 2022, front
Honda Civic, 2022, side
Honda Civic, 2022, rear
Honda Civic, 2022, interior
Honda Civic, 2022, controls
Honda Civic, 2022, console
Honda Civic, 2022, engine
Honda Civic, 2022, rear seats
Honda Civic, 2022, instrument panel
Honda Civic, 2022, display screen, hybrid mode
Honda Civic, 2022, display screen
Honda Civic, 2022, boot

LIKE a number of cars the much loved Honda Civic has now established itself in the British psyche.

Which is hardly surprising as it's been around since 1972 and some 27.5 million of them have been sold worldwide since then.

It all started with a quirky little three-door version but over the years the Civic has built up a loyal following amongst a slightly more mature section of British motorists who have stuck with it through good times and bad as it changed dramatically, and not always to their liking.

Now we have the 11generation Civic and this one is set to not only win the approval of the faithful but to reap a host of new converts to the brand, and after driving it I venture to suggest a lot of them will include much younger motorists who want something lively but at the same time sensible.

For the latest Civic is one of the best newcomers I have driven in a long time, offering a super blend of power, agility and economy not to mention generous passenger and luggage space.

And it all comes in a hybrid package with a newly developed 2.0-litre engine and two electric motors which means an average of 60 miles per gallon and no range anxiety as the battery is charged by the engine.

There are three trim levels available - Elegance, Sport and Advance - with prices starting from £29,595 and all get the same engine/electric motor set up.

Upgrading to Sport will cost you an additional £1,000 while the flagship Advance model, which adds features like a glass sunroof and Bose speakers, is priced at £32,995.

But even the entry level Elegance model is exceptionally well equipped and comes with features like Honda's superb Matrix headlights which allow you to drive permanently on full beam, lighting the road ahead while not dazzling other motorists and so taking the stress out of night driving.

The latest Civic has cleaner lines than its predecessor which tended to have a far more aggressive look even though it was often only powered by a 1.0-litre engine.

Gone are the large boot spoilers and body kit which somehow didn't really fit with the model or its core following.

The image is still sporty though but now relies on the sleek, curvaceous coupe-like shape and low stance rather than bolt-on bits.

When you get behind the wheel you have a choice of four driving modes, eco, normal, sport and individual settings with the system always defaulting to normal when you turn the ignition off.

But even in normal the Civic is remarkably quick off the mark and it's all done in silence thanks to the power coming from the electric motor driving the front wheels.

Switch to Sport and the engine kicks in instantly adding even more gusto and pushing the car to 62 miles per hour in a very sharp 7.8 seconds but with a deliberate increase in decibels in the cabin to create that sporty feeling.

Make no mistake about it this is a real driver's car. A very low centre of gravity, a 19 % increase in body rigidity over the previous model and a low stance plus superb suspension means a five-seater which flows effortlessly and quickly round the tightest of bends and really is great fun to drive.

There is effectively only one gear but there are paddles behind the steering wheel which are designed to help you boost the regenerative braking on the car with each pull of the left paddle adding more braking and of the right paddle taking it off.

Use them wisely and you can add to the car's high performance around country roads in the same way as you can on a conventional automatic.

Somewhat surprisingly for a family hatchback the car also comes with a "winding road detection system" specifically to help with sporting driving on twisting roads.

But what is particularly impressive on this model is just how often it runs purely on the battery - in EV mode - and that's why Honda is able to claim its official 60mpg. When stronger acceleration is needed the Civic switches to hybrid drive so the wheels are turned by the electric motor with the engine generating the electric power. All clever stuff.

Inside the Civic is both classy and functional. There's a centre-set tablet-style touch screen and an innovative honeycomb air vent runs the whole width of the dashboard ensuring efficient use of the air conditioning system.

Rear seat passengers have good headroom despite the tapering roofline and generous space under the front seats allows them to stretch their legs out for comfort, even on long distance journeys.

The Civic celebrates its 50birthday this year but its Honda drivers who will be celebrating when they try out this new model. They can't fail to be impressed. I certainly was.

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