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If you think motor shows are about actual new cars, this is some of the biggest news at Frankfurt. A brand-new Honda Civic, on sale within weeks.

It looks like what it is, a comprehensive evolution of today’s Civic rather than a radical reinvention. No bad thing actually. We like the Civic - a distinctive shape, fun to drive, roomy.

See pics of the new Honda Civic

Not that it’s faultless. It’s a noisy and harsh-riding, and the cabin could be a bit more upmarket, and the diesel emits too much CO2 for people whose cars are bought by the company. So this new one aims to fix those things.

The styling is smoother than before, and endless detail wind-tunnel work has lowered the drag to make it quieter and more economical at motorway speed. Recognise it by the black-goateed nose and the pair of wave-form arch-lines above the wheels.

Under the hood, Honda’s 1.4 and 1.8 petrol motors live on, but the headlines will be scooped up by the diesel. The 2.2-litre unit swells to 150bhp, but at the same time gets massively more economical. The 110g/km CO2 rating is about as good as you can get without capitulating to dreary performance.

Honda says the chassis has been breathed on to smooth the ride, quieten the racket AND sharpen the handling. But as the Civic is bolted to a motor show stand and we can’t drive it, we’ll wait and be the judge of that later.

We have sat in it, and we can attest that the materials and décor have caught up with the class standards. And it’s still got that super-clever cinema-lifting back seat.

To the question you’re frantically asking, Honda people won’t give a definite answer: will a Type-R turn up eventually? They don’t rule it out. Which is Japanese code for ruling it in. Phew.

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