Edward Stephens believes the hatchback's softer look will please traditionalists.
When Honda launched the eighth generation of the Civic in 2006 it was a culture shock for the traditionally conservative buyers of the model.
Gone was the style of car they had become accustomed to, a car that had evolved and improved over the years, to be replaced by a radical new upstart that looked nothing like a Civic.
Now, however, with the ninth generation model hitting the streets, the traditionalists should feel much happier.
That radical new shape has been retained to some extent but has very definitely been softened. The new design, in fact, is the shape that the Japanese car maker should have made the last time around.
It’s wider, lower and looks longer and far more sporty than the model it replaces, resembling more a sleek coupe than a five-door hatchback.
You do get four doors but the cleverly disguised rear door handles hide the fact that there are rear doors and give the car a much cleaner look.
And while the rear brake light in the form of a spoiler still obstructs rear view mirror vision to some extent, it’s nothing like as bad as in the previous model. Lowering the rear window has also helped. The new car also comes with a rear wiper while its predecessor relied on specially treated glass designed to ensure water rolled off it. The change, I suspect, has been brought about by public demand.
On the inside the new look dashboard draws its inspiration from the control panel layout in a jet fighter and a race car cockpit, with the digital speedometer readout at one level - nearest to the driver’s line of sight - and the more traditional round instrument dials at a slightly lower level. There’s a nice chunky leather steering wheel with numerous easy reach controls while large sections of the dashboard have been given a softer, more tactile surface.
The new Civic is deceptively spacious, with plenty of legroom for everyone and a sensible amount of headroom too.
The car comes with Honda’s now familiar Magic Seats, which allows you to fold down or lift up various sections so you have a multiplicity of permutations. Accommodating large or awkward items is child’s play with the Civic. And if you fold everything completely flat you have the capacity of a small van.On the road the car is quiet and refined with a comfortable ride, although I found the suspension a little too soft for me when it came to cornering.
In a bid to save fuel the car has an eco switch, and to encourage you to have a light right foot the speedometer is illuminated in green when you are driving at low revs and changes to blue as you push the accelerator harder. In this mode the car does lose some sense of urgency and to be honest I left it switched off a lot of the time and still managed to average between 53 and 55 miles per gallon.
Whether you have the Eco switch on or off the car operates in a stop/start mode, which in rush hour traffic really does help conserve fuel.
And because CO2 emissions are so low the annual road tax is just £20 helping to ensure the new Civic diesel is a very low cost car to run.
Honda Civic ES
Mechanical: 2199cc four cylinder diesel engine driving the front wheels via a six speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 135 mph 0-62 mph: 8.5 seconds
Combined mpg: 67.3 mpg
Warranty: 3yrs/90,000 miles