Civic duty

Road test: Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC Sport

When it comes to usability, a model sitting between the all-out sports specification and mundane, weedy entry version is usually a good place to start. Savvy manufacturers exploit this further, offering the concept of the ‘warm’ hatch which provides more striking styling, accessible performance and insurance premiums which shouldn’t break the bank.

This idea certainly isn’t new to Honda but the latest Civic Sport really is positioned to be all things to all people. We briefly drove the very gently facelifted version earlier in the year when we interviewed Philip Crossman, Honda’s UK MD, but it is time for a week’s trial to flush out any niggles.

Sharper

The latest Civic has been with us for four years but its distinctive looks have helped keep the car fresh. 2015 brings a new nose and tail plus engine and suspension tweaks for this mid-life refresh. The side profile remains unchanged over last year’s model but the sharper styling at both ends plus the dramatic black 17” wheels on our Sport look good. Smart day running lights silhouetting each headlamp make the new model easy to identify.

Inside, the bold dash remains, with the two-tier display and digital speedo. However, when covering the pre-facelifted Tourer last year, we felt the media interface was showing its age. Honda has addressed this with a new touch screen. Apart from having to accept a safety statement at the start of every journey, this works fine. On the down side, added to the existing screen which is set deep in the dashboard, it does make the driver’s view rather busy and there is an overlap in functionality between the two displays. Trip information, for example, can be viewed on either display (with greater detail shown on the new screen). Where the technology is hidden – blind spot sensors, city brake and forward collision warning – the Civic feels fully up-to-date.

Reduced roll

Drivability has always been one of the Civic’s strong points and the 2015 model has lost none of this appeal. Light controls (all well positioned), a supple chassis and accommodating suspension – with noticeably reduced roll over the last model – make this a real driver’s car but not too involving so as to be hard work through traffic. Steering is a whisker under-geared but feel is good.

Apart from the Type R, the rest of the range is available with either the 1.4 and 1.8 petrol or 1.6 diesel up front. The Sport doesn’t offer any additional power but the 120 PS diesel in our test car is smooth and easy-revving with minimal chatter: in short, rather lovely. This does mean that it’s no real racer but 50-70mpg, depending of driving situation, is easy to attain. The real feather in this engine’s cap is the remarkable 94 g/km CO2.

So, a less harmonious mix of old and new tech for the driver keeps the latest Civic away from five stars but the 2015 revision – and the new Sport model in particular – is a very easy and enjoyable car to live with.

Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC Sport, from £20,820

Power: 120 PS (@ 4,000 rpm), torque: 300 Nm (@ 2,000 rpm), emissions: 94 g/km CO2 (band A), 0-62 mph: 10.5 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○

 





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