Big in the USA and China, where it’s Honda’s best selling car, the Civic is by comparison a far more modest performer in the UK, as is the brand itself. The latest update for the 2SV series hatchback includes multiple refinements and seems to be already helping Honda improve its market share.

After a particularly tough first half of 2020, Honda’s UK dealers will have been much relieved to see the brand’s registrations up by 12 per cent in July. A new Jazz is now in showrooms and the facelifted MY2020 Civic range arrived at the start of the year, while deliveries of the e are commencing now, with a revised Civic Type R due soon.

With all that fresh product plus a general recovery in the new car market, the brand should be in much better shape by year end than it was a few months back. What’s more, as Honda Motor Europe prepares itself to become solely an importer from 2021, much is being done to make sure that regional markets are unaffected once production ends at plants in England and Turkey.

After Swindon and Gebze are closed, Civics for this region will become imports from Japan, while cars which are currently exported from the UK to North America will instead be locally sourced from US/Canadian factories.

What’s new for MY2020?

Along with the facelift, Honda has tweaked trim levels, which become SE, SR, SPORT, EX and Sport Line. The car I sampled was a 1.0 VTEC Turbo EX Sport Line with manual transmission, a combination of engine and gearbox which surely has to be the pick of the range.

Power might only be 126 PS yet the way the little three-cylinder revs so willingly should you want it to, makes this a genuinely sporty choice. A bonus is having 200 Nm of torque, as if you prefer the CVT automatic, that drops to 180.

The Civic remains one of the better choices in its class for the keen driver. The combination of light weight, steering with just the right amount of feel and what has to be the best manual gear change in any C segment hatchback make the Sport Line 1.0-litre the pick of the range. That, plus all the other attributes of this car, such as the clever way the seats fold so easily liberating up to 1,267 litres of space. Even with the seat backs up, you still get 478 litres.

The new Sport Line model grade includes front and side skirts, a rear diffuser, a small rear spoiler, high-gloss dark alloy wheels, and various bits of black-out trim where chrome-effect pieces would otherwise be. This and all other MY2020 Civics also have full LED headlights and daytime running lights.

Inside, the seats for this new top trim level come with red stitching, and that’s repeated on the steering wheel, gear shift boot and door panels, while the pedals are aluminium. As for standard equipment, that extends to a reversing camera on the new touchscreen, blind spot alert and cross traffic monitoring, as well as the full suite of other safety tech which Honda bundles into its Sensing package. That includes forward collision warning, road sign recognition, lane keeping and departure warning, an intelligent speed limiter, and adaptive cruise control with cut-in prediction.

There are two other engines in the updated Civic range. The petrol 1.5 VTEC produces 182 PS and 240 Nm, with emissions from 128 g/km for the six-speed manual model and combined fuel economy of 46.3 mpg. As for the revised diesel, this is still called 1.6 i-DTEC. Its equivalent numbers are 120 PS and torque of 300 Nm, with Combined emissions of 90 g/km (six-speed manual transmission), and consumption of 62.8 mpg.

The 2020 Honda Civic 1.0T EX Sport Line manual costs from GBP25,510 (add GBP1,400 for the CVT). Combined CO2 emissions are 110 g/km (NEDC) and fuel consumption is 45.6 mpg.