If you want a car with looks that are heavily-influenced by the hot hatch segment, but don’t necessarily need the all-out performance to go with it – this version of the Honda Civic could be the one for you.
The EX Sport Line model – new for 2020 – takes inspiration from Honda’s sporting models, especially in terms of its appearance.
New lower skirts have been added, plus there’s a new lower diffuser to add to the dynamic look.
A low-level spoiler at the rear further enhances the car’s aggressive styling, while gloss-black 17-inch alloys complete the sporty look.
But the similarities with the illustrious Civic Type-R end when you look under the bonnet, with this version powered by a more modest 1.0-litre unit.
To compare the two, however, would be to miss the point, as this downsized engine was never designed to provide blistering acceleration.
That said, it’s no slouch, with the turbocharged three-cylinder petrol unit capable of offering a sprightly turn of pace.
The sprint to 62mph is achieved in 11 seconds but feel a good deal faster in real world driving conditions, while I never sensed the 125bhp engine was about to run out of puff up some of West Yorkshire’s steeper hills.
In short, the engine is stronger than its 0-62mph time would tend to suggest.
When you work the accelerator hard, the manual gearbox has the habit of flaring the revs, but is easy enough to live with when treated more gently.
Happily, cabin isolation is very good, which means engine noise or transmission whine never become too intrusive.
Handling-wise, the Civic feels assured when cornering, with excellent balance and poise when tackling the sharper corners briskly.
Front-end grip is reassuringly good and body roll is very well contained, even if doesn’t quiet achieve the same nimble and zippy feel as the Ford Focus on twisty country lanes.
That said, the steering is undoubtedly accurate and weighty, giving a confidence-inspiring feel.
Meanwhile, the exceedingly stiff chassis helps the car feel at home on twisting B-roads.
Ride refinement is generally very good, although the Civic can be a bit restless on bumpier stretches of road.
But the long wheelbase helps to ensure a very smooth drive on well-maintained stretches of road.
Therefore, it strikes a nice balance between control and comfort.
Internally, the Civic’s cabin feels much-improved and it seems that Honda has listened carefully to early criticism of the Civic’s cabin.
As such, it has added physical controls for the infotainment system, which has definitely improved functionality thanks to a line of shortcut buttons down the side and a substantial volume switch.
The climate controls are also a lot more straightforward to use.
Some new textured panels have been added to the dashboard, although there are still some scratchy plastics to be found if you look hard enough.
There’s also a new seat design that adds red detailed stitching for an extra sporting touch.
In terms of space, the occupants of this car should have no problem getting comfortable, as the vehicle offers excellent room front and back, along with one of the biggest boots in this class.
Rear visibility is quite limited, but the Sport Line comes equipped with blind spot information and rear parking camera, which makes up for the shortage of a rear view.
In conclusion, this version of the Civic is easy to live with. Its responsive steering, on-point brakes and good handling make for an engaging drive, it’s also a spacious and practical machine, while its downsized 1.0-litre engine should make running costs more manageable than one of its higher-powered counterparts.
Honda Civic 1.0T EX Sport Line
ENGINE: 3 cylinders, 988cc, turbocharged, petrol
POWER AND TORQUE: 124bhp at 5500rpm, 148lb ft at 2250rpm
TRANSMISSION: Automatic CVT and front wheel drive
TOP SPEED: 126mph