Fleet managers, however, are not likely to get that excited. The Type R’s 197bhp engine might well get the petrolheads dribbling, but it’s hardly a dream for those more concerned about fuel efficiency and emissions.
So those company car drivers looking for sporty thrills and the Civic’s futuristic lines, but without the tax headache, could do worse than look towards the Type R’s little brother.
The Type S is more lukewarm than hot, but spices up the experience offered by the original Civic. Out go the rear doors, which moves the B-pillar back and smoothes the lines, although the three-door still suffers from the regular car’s lack of rear visibility. In comes a ground-hugging front splitter and chunky side-skirts for a more aggressive look.
Inside, the seats have been pumped full of steroids to provide extra support round corners, and there’s a new, slightly smaller steering wheel.
The main changes are to the suspension, which has been given a thorough work-out to hone its athletic qualities. The rear track has been widened by 20mm for improved dynamics, and both the springs and dampers have been stiffened.
The important thing for tax-payers is that the engine line-up is unchanged from the standard five-door Civic. This means the same fleet-friendly 2.2-litre diesel engine is available, producing 138bhp, 251lb-ft of torque and 138g/km of CO2.
Driving the Type S around town shows few differences to the common-or-garden Civic. Those with sensitive derrieres might feel bumps in the road a little more thanks to the revised suspension, although the ride is far from spine-shattering. The tweaks only start to show themselves on the open road.
The subtle visual changes that the Type S boasts are reflected in the way it drives. It feels, well, sportier.
The diesel engine was great in the original car and it continues to be here, pulling throughout the rev range, but the handling is sharper and the car remains flatter through the bends.
Although the regular car doesn’t shame itself on B-roads, the Type S is genuinely enjoyable to take off the motorways.
Best of all, it retains virtually all of its practicality. There’s plenty of legroom in the back and a decent-sized boot which can accommodate a huge amount once the rear seats are folded completely flat. All the standard car’s features can be specified, from satellite navigation to the panoramic glass roof.
For those aching for a bit of sportiness but lacking the budget for the full-on Type R experience, the Type S represents a happy compromise. It’ll carry the shopping and return 54.3mpg, but still bring a smile to your face when you want it to.
P11D value: £17,402
CO2 emissions (g/km): 138
BIK % of P11D in 2007: 18%
Graduated VED rate: £110
Insurance group: 10
Combined mpg: 54.3
CAP RV (3yr/60k) £7,125/41%: Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £354
We don’t like:
THE Civic is the best-specced with climate control, rain-sensing wipers, and 17-inch alloys. The spec of the 118d and A3 befit their entry-level status. The BMW even has steel wheels, but does have Efficient-Dynamics – the technology which massively improves mpg and CO2.
THE 118d is way ahead, but the emissions-based tax bands don’t allow it to press home its advantage. The Civic’s lower P11d price means it will be the cheapest, costing a 22% taxpayer £57 a month in BIK tax. The BMW costs £60, while the A3 and the Golf come in at £63.
THE Civic and Golf are the most expensive because they are towards the top of their respective ranges and run fatter tyres on 17-inch alloy wheels, with the Civic’s especially dear and taking up £1,400 of total SMR cost. The entry-level Audi and BMW run on 16-inch wheels.
A3: 3.25 (pence per mile) £1,950 (60,000 miles total)
118d: 3.27 £1,927
Golf: 3.72 £2,232
Civic: 4.14 £2,484
AGAIN, the BMW is a long way ahead with combined fuel economy of 60.1mpg – staggering for a 143bhp car. The A3 and Golf, sharing the same engine, average a pretty respectable 51.4mpg while the Civic manages 54.3mpg, putting it in second, £444 behind the BMW.
118d: 6.90 (pence per mile) £4,140 (60,000 miles total)
Civic: 7.64 £4,584
A3: 8.07 £4,842
Golf: 8.07 £4,842
ALL four cars are predicted to perform well in depreciation terms, with none predicted to dip below 40% after three years/60,000 miles. The 118d loses the most (those steel wheels no doubt a factor!) and the cheaper Golf and Civic the least. But it’s a very close call.
Civic: 17.12 (pence per mile) £10,272 (60,000 miles total)
Golf: 17.12 £10,272
A3: 17.36 £10,416
118d: 17.55 £10,530
BMW has reinvigorated the 1 Series with its EfficientDynamics package, to the point that it wins here against very strong opposition thanks to in the main to its very low fuel bill. But none of the others are a long way off with the most expensive, the Civic, only costing £700 more.
118d: 27.72 (pence per mile) £16,632 (60,000 miles total)
Golf: 28.10 £16,860
A3: 28.68 £17,208
Civic: 28.90 £17,340
THE BMW 1 Series is now a very good car indeed, and in cost terms even this bog-basic one stacks up. The A3 and Golf do nothing much wrong either while the Civic ends up a little more expensive to run, but has easily the most generous specification. For a fleet manager with an eye purely on cost, the BMW would be the choice, but factor in the needs of the employee as well and the Civic fulfils the brief of being very attractive, at the top end of its range, while not breaking the fleet bank balance. It sneaks it by a whisker.