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.

Update: The tenth generation Honda Civic takes it bow at the 2016 Geneva Motorshow

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?

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Seventh generation Volkswagen Golf
    More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Seventh generation Vauxhall Astra
    The seventh-generation Vauxhall Astra seems to be a collection of General Motors' latest and greatest technology

    Vauxhall Astra

    4
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    5

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