Latest Civic kicks off whole new generation game. . .
It just so happened Honda had a new Civic here for demonstration to dealers etc when I was picking up an Accord for a test drive. So I took a brief spin in it -- complete with dealer plates -- around west Dublin.
Even before I sat into the ninth generation of what has become something of an icon, the changes impacted. It is undeniably 'Civic' but has a much stronger presence. That is because it is around 2.5cm lower and longer but, critically, a smidgen wider. The shorter wheelbase means there are longer overhangs front and back and those tweaked dimensions combine to give it a more robust look.
As well as that, the revolutionary wrap-around effect front (I loved it) has been tempered with a more conventional, but strong, grille proclaiming the 'H' logo which makes the marque so readily recognisable. The back is pronounced with its high tail-light cluster 'hip' and rear spoiler moulding. Not as sure about that.
The Civic gets here for the January sales. It comes as a 5dr only -- but there will be 11 models when you take four spec levels and three engines into account.
Ex-works prices start from €20,995 (1.4-litre SE petrol) and from €23,995 for the SE diesels.
So in I sat. There was a lot of elbow room -- testament to the width of the car. The seats are big and strong, the dashboard sweeps around (central screen is the main focus) and there was a distinct upmarket feel to the upholstery and materials used in the version I had.
There appeared to be lots of rear-seat space and a decent boot.
Despite the rear spoiler intrusion out the back window, visibility was fine all round. Honda says it put a lot of emphasis on developing the suspension to improve handling and ride. Nothing better than a series of tight roundabouts to test that. So off I went, zig-zagging into the November lunchtime. I enjoyed the all-too-brief drive but came away remembering it for its comfort, ease of drive, control and surefootedness.
Honda has given it a much more solid feel where the bump and grind of the road is well subdued. Look forward to a longer drive in the not too distant future.
The 1.4-litre (129g/km, 100bhp) has always been a favourite and there's a 1.8-litre (135g/km, 142bhp) but obviously the 2.2-litre diesel (110g/km, 150bhp) will be a biggie as well.
Standard equipment (SE) includes several airbags (including curtain bags), 16ins alloys, climate control, electric windows, CD radio with MP3, LED daytime running lights, stop/start, hill start assist, steering wheel remote audio controls.
ES spec (which they expect to be a big seller) adds: reversing camera, dual zone climate control, cruise control, front fogs, electric/retractable door mirrors.
And EX adds, among other things, leather upholstery, sat nav, premium audio system, heated front seats and a video plug-in port.
Hard to believe that since Honda came here in 1985, we have bought more than 42,000 Civics.
The ninth generation will push up that total, I'm sure.