With a claimed 78 miles per gallon, it’s hardly surprising that the 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine powered Honda Civic has been winning a lot of friends.

But the new model has more to commend it than simply outstanding fuel economy, since the latest version for 2014 now comes with special optional safety packs designed to keep driver and passengers accident free.

The Driver Assistance Safety Packs were first seen on the new Civic Tourer but are now available on the hatchback with a starting price of £780 for, what will probably be the most popular, Pack One.

The pack utilises a batch of sensor based active safety systems that use a combination of cameras, short range lidar (laser radar) and radar technologies to help protect the driver and occupants in various situations.

One of the features of the pack, for example, is the City-Brake Active system which uses laser/radar to scan the road ahead and automatically applies the brakes if it detects the risk of a crash.

It’s designed to avoid low speed accidents and only operates at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour. Before applying the brakes it gives the driver the chance to slow down by giving a visual and audible warning of danger ahead.

At higher speeds the car is protected by a camera, which again scans the road ahead, and gives an audible and visual warning of the possible imminent collision.

Bumps often occur, however, when parking – but Honda has thought of that too.

The safety pack’s Cross Traffic Monitor system uses rear side radar sensors to detect cars approaching you from either side when you are reversing, and shows the direction they are coming from in the rear view camera as well as sounding a loud warning.

Other features of the safety pack includes blind spot warning – which turns on a light on the wing mirror when a car is in your blind spot to make you aware of the danger, a warning buzzer if you stray out of your lane without signalling and a clever function which recognises traffic signs and displays them on your dashboard touch-screen to make sure you haven’t missed them.

Cleverly the system can differentiate between signs that apply to cars and, for example, heavy goods vehicles, so you won’t be shown an HGV speed limit sign. Also in the safety pack is the very useful High Beam Support System, which automatically turns your lights to high beam when needed and dips them as soon as a vehicle approaches you from the opposite direction.

This 1.6-litre diesel Civic has just received a top award for being the “Best Real MPG” car, which means it’s a car which can achieve the fuel consumption the manufacturer claims.

In fact during the week I drove the car I was consistently getting more than 70 miles per gallon on each journey and on one – admittedly very short trip of just a couple of miles – actually achieved 90.4 mpg. But even when driving it hard, winding up the revs in every gear, it still recorded more than 60 mpg.

And as the emissions are just 94 g/km there is no road tax to pay on this car.

Despite its obvious bias towards economy, the latest Civic also offers good sporting handling thanks to re-tuning of the power steering and the front and rear dampers giving the car far more stability at speed.

Cosmetically too it’s been improved with the addition of privacy glass on the rear side windows and new 17-inch alloys in silver and black.

Impressive handling, brilliant economy and make the new Civic 1.6 i-DTEC a car which is in demand.

Fast Facts

Model: Honda Civic i-DTEC SR with Safety Pack 1

Price: £25,140

Mechanical: 1597cc, 120bhp, 4 cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox.

Max speed: 124 mph

0-62mph: 10.5 secs

Combined mpg: 78.5

CO2 emissions: 94 g/km

Warranty: Three years/90,000 miles

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