Just yesterday, I happened to spy a Honda Civic hatchback and thought to myself what a good looking beast it was. The only trouble is this particular model sported an M-reg numberplate and I'd have to say in my eyes it knocks spots off the car tested here in the looks department.
But putting aesthetics aside for a moment, inside the Civic is spacious with plenty of headroom and rear seat accommodation that puts not only other cars in its class to shame but also those pricey saloons from the upper echelons of the fleet sector. And as for boot space, there is plenty of that at no expense to back-seat passengers.
The interior space is enhanced by the Civic's dash-mounted gear stick that not only allows for short, snappy and - dare I say - slick changes but also frees up plenty of space which drivers can then clutter up with bags or shopping as they see fit.
Many of the Fleet News road testers have praised the Civic for having high levels of standard equipment. Air-conditioning, front and side airbags, ABS, CD player and plenty of electric-trickery are all included in the car's on-the-road price, making it a snip at £12,460. Spend your pennies on a higher SE version or SE Executive level trim and the humble fleet driver will be rubbing his or her hands with glee at the thought of alloy wheels and leather upholstery.
So with all these nice toys, tricks and gadgets up its sleeve, is the Civic able to cut the mustard when it comes to on-the-road performance?
Our long-term Civic has a storming 1.6-litre VTEC powerplant that propels the car from 0-60mph in 10.4 seconds and has a top speed of 114mph. Drivers wanting to make the most of the Civic's engine will find themselves compelled to keep the needle near the red line but with the VTEC hooked up to a tight five-speed 'box, working it hard is not a problem.
A firm(ish) ride makes this car fun to drive while plenty of grip, minimal bodyroll and precise handling all add up to good ride quality.
But revving the engine means lots of intrusive noise from under the bonnet. Another downside is that the clutch can seem a little sharp and takes some time to get to grips with.
It is also a bit touchy when in stop-start traffic with a real lack of low down power that makes crawling at traffic lights a real pain.