Brit with looks to beat

The coolest­look­ing hatch on the mar­ket is a Honda from, er, Swin­don

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

air­con­di­tion­ing drain, changes the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the throt­tle and dis­plays re­minders on how eco­nom­i­cally you are driv­ing. How­ever, cost sav­ing mea­sures rule out the fuel sav­ing stop-start func­tion.

A 1.6-litre diesel with man­ual trans­mis­sion only will be avail­able in the first half of next year.

DE­SIGN

The most po­lar­is­ing fea­ture of the tasty de­sign is the rump, with new com­bi­na­tion lamp de­sign and brake-light clus­ter, as also seen in the visu­ally stun­ning Hyundai Veloster.

The cabin has a fa­mil­iar Honda feel— not lux­u­ri­ous per se but cer­tainly of qual­ity, an ac­cent most pro­nounced by the VTI-L’S soft-touch trim and ex­tra-smooth leather.

Honda’s flex­i­ble rear fold­ing seats add prac­ti­cal­ity to the in­te­rior lay­out.

SAFETY

Based on Euro test­ing, this will be a five-star ANCAP crasher, shar­ing the sedan’s six airbags, in­clud­ing full-length cur­tain airbags. It also has a strong body, sta­bil­ity con­trol, tyre de­fla­tion warn­ing sys­tem and a re­vers­ing cam­era for the VTI-L — which should be stan­dard in both trims as the rear hatch cre­ates a huge blind spot.

DRIV­ING

At 206km/h on the au­to­bahn be­tween Nurem­berg and Mu­nich, the Honda is fizzing at more than 6000rpm in sixth gear but it’s still not king of the road. It’s at its up­per lim­its and hav­ing to get out of the way of rapidly ap­proach­ing types with four rings and Tris­tar badges on the nose.

Fear not – it’ll han­dle our 110km/h free­ways with ease.

The sus­pen­sion is tweaked a lit­tle tighter than in the sedan but it’s still a com­pli­ant ride, although it is dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine just how plush it will feel on our lumps and bumps. The rear sus­pen­sion bushes are filled with fluid for a smooth ride.

We drive only the six-speed man­ual over al­most 1000km in Ger­many, mainly on au­to­bahns, and find the ra­tios well suited to grand tour­ing. In our con­di­tions, sixth and even fifth cogs may be a lit­tle too high for reg­u­lar use.

Honda’s ever-revvy en­gine is bet­ter when worked up to 4500rpm in first to fourth gears.

The ped­als and gearshift feel a lit­tle mushy and light but some driv­ers pre­fer that. We’d like it more pos­i­tive and di­rect.

Steer­ing is tighter but the ra­tios are the same, re­sult­ing in a con­fi­dent and sta­ble feel even at 200km/h-plus.

Cabin noise is low, even at this rate of progress. It only

Skin deep: The Honda Civic hatch is beau­ti­ful to look at but lacks some of the fea­tures of its ri­vals

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