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NEW HONDA CIVIC - FUN AND FRUGAL By Brian Foley

The new Honda Civic retains much of the streamlined shape of the previous model, a styling statement that stands out in a crowd of so many look-alike models. The distinctive 'split' rear window is retained which may not be to everyone's taste and it does restict rear visibility, which can be rather annoying when reversing into tight spaces. Major chages cover all the important areas from interior space and comfort, to handling, roadholding and much improved ride comfort over irregular and poor surfaced roads. A particularly useful and user friendly feature is the extra space for luggage etc. that can be created by folding the rear seats to create a flat floor area or the seats can be tilted upright to accomodate bulkier and more awkward objects. All models come fully equipped and feature the latest saferty systems for which the Civic has earned the top 5 Star Euro NCAP rating. People who know their cars also know that the Honda name is synonmous with advanced engine technology, from Formula 1 to saloon car racing and motorcycles, all of which benefits the Honda production road cars when it comes to running efficiency and low fuel consumption allied to low CO2 emissions. Engine options are 1.4 litre and 1.8 litre petrol and 2.2 litre diesel, with 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The 1.4 litre petrol engine is both a lively and economical unit and is absolutely fine for a wide mix of everyday driving, including long and short runs, commuting and town driving. For that extra power and effortless long distance driving the 2.2 litre diesel puts the Civic into a different class. However which engine to choose is really down to picking horses for courses, and its quite easy to calculate the overall cost of a petrol and diesel car against the running economy over a year's mileage. the recestly test driven 2.2 i-DTEC ES is listed at RRP €25,820. Petrol model prices start from €22,670.

The philosophy of old Mr.Soichiro Honda many years ago was that "a car that is not fun to drive is not a car at all". The man who founded Honda would to-day be proud of the new Honda Civic.