The Honda Civic has two identities. Out there on the internet, it's all about the Type-R. But most of the people who walk into showrooms are more interested in the rest of the range: an unbelievably reliable and practical hatchback.
Well here's the new one, and since you're reading this on the internet I'd better tell you there isn't a Type-R. But keep reading.
I've had it confirmed by several sources, right to the top of the company, that a hot model is likely. It'll be another high-revver. But it'll be a five-door, as this new body will never be available as a three-door.
Anyway, right now we've got the practical versions. Like the last Civic, it's still an unusual looker. This time around, the pyramidal outline has been spiced up by a set of wave-form creases along the sides, and an aggressively beak-like black grille surround.
The 2.2 diesel engine has better performance than before. The engine's power is up to 150bhp, and the car weighs less than it did. And thanks to aero improvements and idle-stop, the economy is well up and the CO2 correspondingly tumbles to 110g/km. Which is good, given that it's impressively swift for a diesel hatch. That said, the 2.2 is a big diesel engine and expensive - most people in this class buy 1.6 diesels and Honda doesn't have one yet. Oops.
They've made other vital improvements. The harsh ride has been smoothed into something more than palatable, and the thrash of tyre noise has been quelled. It's a far more civilised car. And the interior quality has gone up a notch - but then, so is the way with all its rivals.
Oh but there's one thing I didn't mention with the fuel economy thing. Another reason it's better is a switch to fuel-saving electric power steering. And a pretty groggy system it is too. Gluey and short of feel. So a lot of the sharp, connected cornering you got with the old Civic has melted away.
So it's still a reliable, useful and good-looking car. If you're confined to towns and dual-carriageways and motorways, it's unquestionably a better car to drive. And cheaper to fuel. But if you like to break free for a bit of fun, you might not like the upgrade.
Guess that's the future Type-R's job.