Right from its initial launch 4 years ago, the Civic quickly re-established itself as a dominant force in the compact car market with a combination of its futuristic looks, value for money and the free-revving VTEC engines. Now, after a mid life refresh, the Civic is back with a new look and a new set of features.

From the looks alone, it's hard to tell that the current Civic is already 4 years old. The radical exterior looks every bit as radical and as sporty as before, thanks to the high tech details and design elements. To further update the Civic, Honda upgraded the look with new, smoked headlamps, a new aerodynamic bumper, octagon shaped multi-reflector tail lights and a new set of wheels.

Inside, the Civic's futuristic theme continues to the interior's design, with intricate detailing for the controls, like the climate control and the audio head unit. The steering wheel is deep dish, complete with paddle shifters for the transmission, even for this 1.8S variant. On the center console are the aircon controls and the AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB and an aux port, while the Z-type handbrake lever is right next to the stubby shifter. There's plenty of room inside as well as abundant storage solutions with rather large compartments on the center console, door pockets and a capacious glove box.

The engine of this variant is the 1.8 liter SOHC 16-valve i-VTEC, capable of 140 horsepower and 174 Newton meters of torque. It has a nice range to it, and feels very linear all the way up to the redline with a lot of useable torque midrange. The engine is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission, and delivers pretty good fuel economy figures, doing 10.2 kilometers per liter on average in the city and 13.7 on the highway.

As a drive, the Civic delivers a great one. The car is built on a high-rigidity unibody platform, and engineered to deliver precise, sharp and refined handling performance with its MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. The ride is a bit on the firm side, but the suspension settings come into play when you enter a series of corners.

With the performance potential comes a long list of safety kit. There are dual front airbags, along with a rigid structure with side impact beams. The anti-lock brake system is standard, and matches the 4-wheel disc brakes very well for confident stopping power in any road condition.

With a mid life makeover and upgraded features, it's easy to see that the new Honda Civic will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the compact market for the years to come.