Civic duty to be sporty

Most family hatchbacks these days make a big distinction between their three and five-door bodystyles, writes Steve Walker.The cars can look quite different in each guise, the three-door car setting out to be sleek and sporty while the boxier five-door car adopts a more practical approach.

Most family hatchbacks these days make a big distinction between their three and five-door bodystyles, writes Steve Walker.

The cars can look quite different in each guise, the three-door car setting out to be sleek and sporty while the boxier five-door car adopts a more practical approach. Honda's Civic is a family hatchback that counts its futuristic styling and sporty persona as big selling points whether in three or five-door form. To highlight the dynamic side of the five-door car more fully, Honda dreamed up the Si trim level which upgrades the visuals at an affordable price.

Si customers have the whole of the Civic engine range up for grabs. Things kick off with the 1.4-litre

i-VTEC engine, a typically smooth and high-revving Honda petrol unit. With only 98bhp, it's not the powerplant to give the Civic five-door the turn of speed to go with the Si trim's energetic looks but it's a good compact petrol engine.


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The 1.8-litre petrol unit also carries the famous Honda VTEC branding, denoting the presence of variable valve-timing technology. Peak power of 138bhp is generated at a buzzing 6,300rpm, so you need to hold the gears to squeeze out the best of the performance. Do so and the 0-62mph sprint takes 8.9 seconds but change-up early without troubling the rev-limiter and the 1.8 i-VTEC stays pleasantly demure for everyday driving.

Honda resisted the urge to dirty its hands with diesel for a long time but when it did, the results took a lot of people aback. The 2.2-litre CTDi oil-burner in the Civic shares many of the characteristics of Honda petrol engines with its 138bhp maximum achieved at a relatively lofty 4,000rpm and refinement levels that very few diesel hatchbacks can match. The sprint to 62mph takes 8.7 seconds, making this smooth and punchy engine the quickest in the five-door Civic range.

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The Si trim level is predominantly about further enlivening the looks of the Civic five-door. The 1.4-litre cars get 16in alloy wheels with a graphite finish while the more powerful engines get similar 17in items. There's dark chrome detailing for the shapely door handles and the fuel filler cap, while body-coloured side mouldings make the car look lower and a special mesh front grille like that of the Type-R is fitted. Inside, there's half-leather trim and a USB connector on top of the other Civic features like climate control, an MP3-compatible CD stereo and electric windows.

One of the more adventurously styled of the family hatchback breed, the Honda Civic is popular with buyers seeking some sportiness from their next family car.

The Si trim level was created to bring more of the vibrancy of the three-door Civic to the five-door range with styling accessories borrowed from the range-topping Type-R model. It's offered with the full range of engines and although Civic prices aren't the cheapest, it looks good value considering the style and technology contained within this Honda.

Honda Civic Si

PRICES: �16,495 to �19,070 on the road

INSURANCE GROUPS (1 to 50): 12 to 22

CO2 EMISSIONS: 132-169g/km

PERFORMANCE: 1.8, 0-62mph 8.9 seconds; top speed 127mph

mpg (combined): 1.4 manual 47.9; 1.8 42.2; 2.2i CDTi 53.3

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE? Length 4,250mm; width 1,760mm; height 1460mm

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