Honda isn’t the kind of car maker to measure success exclusively in terms of units sold and overall market share captured – but as far as UK sales of its Civic are concerned, that’s probably just as well.

This engineering-led innovator has been making Civics for four decades and more than 20 million examples have been sold worldwide.

But despite having been built in the UK for more than a quarter of its life now, the Civic has never featured among Britain’s top 10 annual best-selling new cars.

Into that context of unexploited potential, and borne out of Honda’s will to compete more closely with the established local powers across as many of Europe’s new car market segments as possible, comes the ninth-generation Civic five-door – the third to be assembled at Swindon.

With carbon dioxide emissions, running costs, prices and kit levels that position it shoulder to shoulder with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus, this Civic at last looks as if it has the platform from which to deliver sales results.

So should European drivers be pricking up their ears?

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