THE Honda Civic offers a fascinating insight into the development of a modern car.
Its progression can clearly be broken down into those aspects of the old car that needed to be:
n significantly improved,
n those that needed to be retained,
n and those that just needed a slight modification.
In all of these areas, Honda’s judgement looks very shrewd, this ninth-generation Civic still offering a bold and confident image but one that’s now backed up with better build, massively superior efficiency and a improved packaging.
Take the 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel engine as a case in point.
As much as the old 2.2-litre was to drive, there was always the nagging suspicion that it was some way off the pace in terms of economy and emissions.
This was apparent especially when rival manufacturers started to unveil rivals with almost unbelievable figures.
One got the impression that this was indicative of Honda never truly being committed to the diesel cause.
It seems the Japanese company may have woken up and smelt the coffee.
The figures are actually quite startling.
If we take the 2.0-litre BMW engine fitted to the MINI Cooper SD as an example of a benchmark of excellence in this sector, with 143bhp and 124g/km of carbon dioxide emission, then the Honda certainly betters it.
Emitting just 110g/km of CO2 while producing a powerful 148bhp in a bigger car with far better torque is quite some achievement.
It has taken some confidence to dive in with a replacement car before its predecessor even started to look a bit frayed at the edges, but Honda has done just that.
And it looks as if it will reap the rewards.
We might just be looking at the new class leader.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
CAR: Honda Civic range
PRICES: £16,500-£22,000 [est]
INSURANCE GROUPS: 13-23 [est]
CO2 EMISSIONS: 110-149g/km [est]
PERFORMANCE: [2.2 i-DTEC] 0-62 8.2s / top speed 130mph [est]
FUEL CONSUMPTION: [2.2 i-DTEC] (combined) 64mpg [est]
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: ESP stability control, traction control, ABS with EBA & EBD, twin front, side, and curtain airbags
WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height mm 4260/1775/1440