From £15,7607

Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

Honda has set out to make the cabin of the new Civic more luxurious and upmarket than its predecessor’s and it has achieved this up to a point.

The interior of our test car looked and felt very pleasant, fitted out in soft, tactile plastics and leathers with all the integrity and finished with all the attention to detail that you expect of a true premium product.

Shorter drivers can find speedo obscured by the top of the steering wheel

All it really lacks is the material variety and richness, as well as the more imaginative and contemporary styling, of the plushest luxury hatches of the moment.

There are three trim levels to choose from when speccing your Civic - Sport, SE Plus Navi and SR. Opt for the entry-level model and you will find DAB radio, climate control, front and rear parking sensors, and Honda's Connect infotainment system. Upgrade to the SE Navi Plus and Garmin sat nav is included, along with auto wipers and lights, and 17in alloy wheels.

The range-topping SR models get heated leather seats and a panoramic sunroof on top, while the Type-R trim sees the addition of an aggressive bodykit, adaptive dampers, low profile tyres, a reversing camera and LED headlights.

The dashboard architecture is very much driver-orientated, made up of two arcing swathes of plastic that wrap around the right-hand seat, encompassing the binnacle below and the speedometer and new intelligent multi-information display above.

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The logic of having an analogue rev counter underneath a digital speedo may seem flawed, but the car’s instruments are clear and work well.

However, we can’t say the same about the rest of the car’s secondary controls. Although the steering wheel-mounted shortcut buttons are easy to get on with, controlling the audio system and sat-nav is made needlessly difficult by fiddly switchgear. The labels are small and tricky to read, too.

Elsewhere, the cabin is designed more thoughtfully, but it’s far from the class’s most accommodating car. In the front, a high-mounted driver’s seat conspires with shallow A-pillars and a low roof line to make headroom tight; there’s over 100mm less of it than some hatchbacks offer.

In the rear, there’s about 60mm less headroom than you’ll find in a Volkswagen Volkswagen Golf, making it an uncomfortable place to travel for anyone taller than 6ft.

The boot is quite generous, though. The absence of a spare wheel makes for a split-level load bay that’s almost a metre tall. And the ‘magic’ rear seats not only fold down totally flat but also have squabs that flip upright to allow you to accommodate more ungainly things such as bicycles.

All told, there's 477 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place and a healthy 1210 litres when the bench is folded. Naturally, to keep pace with its nearest rivals Honda also offers the Civic Tourer which gives ample space and access for most carrying needs.