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First Drive

First Drive: Honda Civic – 2020

The story: Honda has enacted a mild update to the CCT100 Award-winning Civic, which also brings a sportier new range-topping trim level called EX Sportline
Category:Lower Medium
Key rival:Mazda 3
Efficiency:45.6 mpg
On sale:Now

The Civic has been our favourite lower medium hatch for the past three years now, but that hasn’t stopped Honda from responding to customer feedback and improving the spacious five-door.

On the outside, the regular models get revised LED headlights, a new upper grille design and lower grille section plus a new cut of 17-inch alloy wheel, while mild tweaks to the cabin include a new volume knob for the audio system, rather than the irritating touchscreen slider of the previous car.

First Drive-January 2020-Honda Civic-Image 3The only other change is the most obvious one, with a new EX Sportline model added at the very top of the range. Described as an homage to the Type-S model that used to sit below the bonkers Type-R at the top of the range, the EX Sportline gets front and side skirts, gloss black alloys, a rear spoiler and diffuser to make it stand out significantly from the rest of the range, as well as a new seat trim and pattern. It costs £1000 more than the previous range-topping EX model and is an appealing addition for drivers swayed by cosmetic upgrades.

The EX Sportline comes with the useful 1.0-litre 126hp engine, available with a manual or CVT automatic gearbox, the latter best avoided to be honest because it’s £1400 more expensive, less fuel efficient and has a rather noisy and sluggish feel to it. However, it is one BiK tax band lower thanks to a 3g/km CO2 advantage, but that’s really not enough to swing it against what is a much better manual transmission.

The styling adornments look good, although the faux-Type R blanked panels in the larger front bumper look a little cheap close-up and the rear spoiler blocks even more rear visibility than the bar across the rear window already did.

Pressing the standard-fit Sport button takes a car that was already fairly firm-riding and turns it into a bone-shaker, so it should only be pressed on velvet-covered roads. We wouldn’t be surprised if most drivers wisely leave it well alone.

Otherwise, the Civic maintains its position as a spacious, well-equipped efficient and practical hatch. The facelift is the mildest of mild, but the car didn’t need much by way of cosmetic surgery – even three years after launch it still looks sleek, fresh and well-proportioned.

Paul barker

The verdict

EX Sport Line is a pricey but worthwhile addition at the top of the Civic range, and minor tweaks enhance an already excellent and CCT100 award-winning hatchback.