THE popular Honda Civic celebrates its 50th birthday this year and more than 27.5 million of them have been sold worldwide since it first arrived back in 1972.
At that time it was a rather quirky three-door hatchback but it has always been popular with UK motorists who enjoyed its reliability and low running costs.
Over the years the Civic has changeddramatically and it is enjoyed by a loyal mature audience and sometimes by younger drivers who liked its sporting versions.
The newly arrived all-new 11th generation Civic is a fine way to celebrate the car's birthday and it will appeal to all ages and also convert people to the brand since it is so good.
It is a very nice looking hatchback with coupe lines and offers a great blend of power, economy and style.
It also drives very well and provides stacks of room for passengers and luggage.
The new Civic also features all the latest tech and safety kit and comes with a newly developed 2.0-litre engine in a hybrid package with two electric motors.
This means it offers great smooth performance combined with up to 60 miles per gallon - and I managed more than that on a long run.
The battery is charged by the engine so owners will not suffer from range anxiety and so you don't have to worry about finding working charge points.
Three generous trim levels are available - Elegance, Sport and Advance - with prices starting from Â£29,595 and all get the fine engine/electric motor combination that works so well.
Upgrading to Sport will cost you an additional £1,000 while the flagship Advance model, which adds features like a glass panoramic sunroof and Bose speakers, is priced at £32,995.
Even the starting level Elegance model is exceptionally well equipped and comes with features like Honda's superb Matrix headlights - excellent for night driving - as they can be left on full beam without dazzling oncoming motorists.
The new Civic has really clean elegant lines and is sure to appeal to a wider audience who will admire its curvaceous shape.
There is a choice of four driving modes, eco, normal, sport and individual settings. The car will automatically return to normal when it is switched off.
Silent progress is made when you set off with the electric motor driving the front wheels but you can get quicker performance if you select sport and this will take you to 62mph in 7.8 seconds. Sound in the cabin will also increase to give you a sporty feel.
This newcomer is really good to drive thanks to its increased body strength, superb suspension and it is very agile and solid on the road.
The automatic set up is very smooth and paddles behind the steering wheel help you increase regenerative braking to put more power into the battery.
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.
Also impressive 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 required the Civic switches to hybrid drive so the wheels are turned by the electric motor with the engine generating the electric power.
Inside the Civic is smart and functional with quality materials throughout. A centre-set tablet-style touch screen is the main feature along with an unusual honeycomb air vent whichruns the whole width of the dashboard making the air conditioning system very efficient. All the controls are well-placed and easy to use and the digital dials are clear and bright and provide all the vital driving data.
There is lots of room for four adults to travel in comfort and the cabin also boasts lots of storage areas and charge points.
It is also practical with the boot taking 409 litres of kit going up to 1,187 litres if you collapse the 60:40 folding rear seats.
A smart motorway cruiser the Civic is ideal for long journeys but also very happy in town andtwisting country roads and I was really impressed with it. This latest version is the best yet and is sure to keep its loyal following and win new custom.