Honda was always likely to struggle to reproduce the sense of amazement that it created with the design of the 2006 Civic, so it hasn’t tried. Although the wider, more prominent ten generation Civic comes bearing an more aggressive look.
The company describes this new version as “a thoughtful evolution”, saying the exterior styling is more athletic and elegant than that of the last car and its profile lower, wider and more aerodynamic. As much as it can be, at any rate, while retaining the old car’s basic mechanical platform and fixed references, or ‘hard points’.
The shortage of design freedom that implies might explain some of the less visually successful parts of the Civic’s styling, such as its front wings, bodyside surfaces and rear bumper treatment.
This, as most testers agreed, is not an attractive-looking car. From a functional perspective, however, design improvements have been made.
The drag coefficient is a close-to-class-leading 0.27 and rearward visibility has been improved by a more intelligently designed tailgate with a standard wiper.
Heeding feedback from dealers and customers, the Civic hatchback underwent a mild dynamic and styling refresh for the 2014 model year, aimed at giving the car a slightly more upmarket feel.
The key exterior styling changes are at the rear, which gets privacy glass on the lower rear window, and piano black finishes to the tailgate, licence plate surround and lower bumper.
The front bumper finish is made piano black, instead of anthracite grey, and there are darker wheelarch garnishes. The changes are extremely subtle, but a side-by-side comparison with older versions indicates a more cohesive appearance for those who look closely enough.
Upfront there are three engine choices, which include a 1.4-litre and 1.8-litre petrol engines and a 1.6-litre diesel engine to choose from, while the Civic Type-R comes with a turbocharged 2.0-litre VTEC engine producing 306bhp.
The 2017 model, which will be launched initially as just a hatchback followed swiftly be the tourer and the hot hatch Type R, is naturally longer and wider than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase and 20mm lower too. As for the engines, the diesel unit, which makes up 50 per cent of UK sales will remain, however Honda are introducing two new turbocharged petrol engines in the shape of a 128bhp, 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit and a 180bhp, 1.5-litre four-cylinder powerplant.