Despite achieving 78.5mpg on the combined cycle, the Honda Civic 1.6 diesel is strong enough for towing duties, pulling its caravan from 30-60mph in a respectable 18.7 seconds. It stops well, too, needing just 10.9m to come to a halt from 30mph.
The Civic needed regular corrections when towing in strong crosswinds, but in the lane-change test it performed respectably. At high speeds the rear of the car started to pull off line, but otherwise felt composed.
In the hill start test, the Civic was also solid rather than class-leading. The handbrake held with a firm pull, and careful balancing of clutch and throttle was needed to pull to the top of the slope.
In day-to-day driving, the 1.6 diesel is the pick of the engine range. It’s more refined than the powerful 2.2-litre, and responsive enough not to miss the extra poke. However, whichever engine you choose, the steering feels remote and doesn’t encourage keen driving.
If interior space is a priority, the Civic isn’t as accommodating as the Skoda Octavia or Volkswagen Golf. Legroom is acceptable, but the sloping roofline means headroom is tight.
Reliability, though, should be a given. Honda has finished top of the What Car? Reliability Survey seven years in a row.