In a bid to remain competitive in the crowded hatchback market, Honda has revised the British-built Honda Civic for 2014. Rather than a complete styling overhaul, it’s focused on mechanical changes as well as several cosmetic tweaks to sculpt a more rounded and refined model.

There’s a new piano black finish on the lower section of the bumpers, plus new 17-inch aluminium alloy wheels. Under the skin, Honda has fitted retuned front and rear dampers, which are better equipped to deal with sudden changes in road surfaces.

The electric power-steering has also been uprated, making the Civic feel more sure-footed at higher speeds, although it still isn’t as communicative as the steering in the Ford Focus. Elsewhere, Honda has tried to add a sportier dimension to the Civic, with new white stitching on the steering wheel, seats and knee pads. The wraparound dash and digital readout remain as stylish as ever, but the unsightly aftermarket- style infotainment system stays put.

Headroom is still an issue, with the gradually sloping roofline restricting things for those seated in the back.

The cramped cabin is remedied by the 401-litre boot and 76-litre underfloor storage – this is up on the 380 litres of the Volkswagen Golf, and the Focus’ 318-litre offering. The boot is by far the largest in its class, but as a consequence, passenger space is limited, especially for those in the back. The cramped middle seat also makes carrying three adults tricky.

A new Driver Assistance Safety Pack is fitted as standard on SR models. Stop-start, DAB radio, 17-inch alloy wheels and sat-nav are also included.

Engineers have wisely left the 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel as it was and it’s still the pick of the engine range. Punchy as well as efficient, it’ll return a claimed 78.5mpg with emissions of 94g/km, making it an ideal choice for company car buyers and those with an eye on running costs.

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