MY introduction to Honda came as a boy in the 1960s, seeing their C50 motorcycle take to the UK’s roads.
The 50cc two-wheeler was a big hit and, globally, it has brought the advantages of personal transport to many, many millions.
Decades after its introduction, it is still in production today. Around 100million have been built, demand continuing thanks to its winning blend of economy, brilliant reliability and ease-of-use.
As we all know, the marque has long since spread its wings to become a car manufacturer of worldwide renown – while continuing to make great motorcycles, of course.
The qualities that made the C50 all-conquering live on in Honda’s motors of today, albeit in a much more sophisticated fashion, something I was reminded of during a week’s road test of the Honda Civic, 1.0T EX Sport Line.
The five-door hatchback is in its tenth generation, the latest version continuing to combine practicality with style and driving satisfaction.
The current model sports some minor design changes over its predecessor, including revised bumper vents, and grilles front and rear, a revised lower front grille and new LED headlights.
Our Sport Line version also had style features that help it live up to its name – including new lower skirts, a full-width diffuser and unique 17in alloy wheels.
The sporty look is continued in the cabin, with textured panels to the dashboard and red contrast-stitching for the seats.
Honda doesn’t stint on kit, and the top-of-the-range EX version is brimming with tasty features including leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, heated power-folding door mirrors, dual zone climate control, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, privacy glass, rear parking camera, LED headlights with washers, dusk-sensing lights, Bluetooth, satnav and a comprehensive connectivity suite.
Hi-tech safety features abound, including airbags aplenty, vehicle stability assist with agile handling assist, intelligent speed-limiter, traffic sign recognition system, cross-traffic monitor, blind-spot information, hill-start assist and forward collision warning.
There are neat practical touches including a centre console with sliding armrest and generous luggage capacity, at 550 litres with the rear seat-backs in place, extending to 1,267 litres with the seat-backs down.
The driving experience is rewarding, with smooth, usable power on tap from the single-litre 124bhp, turbo-charged petrol engine mated to a slick six-speed manual gearbox. Ride and handling are well-judged, with an all-round adaptive damper system available at the push of a button, and the motor feels at home in all driving conditions, from the motorway haul to twisting B-roads.
The car’s sporty theme is underlined by an exhaust note that becomes a pleasant growl under acceleration.
Performance figures are 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds and a top speed of 126mph, with combined fuel consumption of 45.6mpg and emissions of 110g/km of CO2 (manufacturer’s figures).
Price: £26,100 (inc £525 for pearlescent paint).