Wheels24 reader ROBERT DANIELS believes the new Honda Civic 1.6i-DTEC diesel is a “very underrated vehicle” and more than capable of taking on its fearsome hatchback rivals, namely Volkswagen’s Golf.In 2013, Honda decided to be very sneaky and launched its Civic 1.6i-DTEC diesel in South Africa without telling anyone. Since I love Honda I was more than happy to take delivery of the new diesel hatchback.TAKING ON THE GOLF 7The Civic hatchback is a very underrated vehicle. Many don’t appreciate its styling and that’s possibly because it’s a bit too “futuristic” since South Africans prefer safer looking cars that will age well, such as the Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Auris or Ford Focus. These are formidable contenders and the Golf 7, launched in SA in 2013, is still king. There are however great alternatives such as the Civic which could be a real threat to cars like the Golf 7 if more people gave it a chance.Despite a power output of just 88kW, the 1.6 produces 300Nm which is just 50Nm shy of the much larger engine Civic 2.2i-DTEC which costs almost R60 000 more. I drove the 2.2i-DTEC a few months ago and now believe that the more affordable 1.6i-DTEC is the better buy. Fuel consumption is a frugal 4.9 litres/100km.Honda needs to reconsider having both models in its line-up as this brilliant 1.6i-DTEC renders the more powerful derivative redundant.PLENTY OF SPACEDon’t let the dimensions fool you and the Civic offers plenty of space. The fuel tank is under the front seats which means there is nothing below the rear or the boot. This means that even with the spare wheel, the Civic offers 320 litres of space and with the seats folded flat this expands to 1000 litres. With its ample space, the Civic is one of the most practical hatchbacks on the market. Its versatility is amazing, the cabin spacious and overall it's a very comfortable space to be in.Creature comforts include climate control, power steering, central locking, six airbags, ABS, traction control and a decent audio system. New cars on the market have light steering this can be annoying since you can’t feel what the front wheels are up to. This is not the case with the Civic as its steering feels meaty and balanced in normal driving conditions.‘A BRILLIANT PRODUCT’At R299 900 buyers might opt for more premium models but they will be making a mistake since the Civic is comprehensively specced. This means you won’t need to splurge on optional extras when you purchase Honda’s diesel hatchback.The Civic is targeted at a more mature buyer but any young person eschewing honda’s latest offering in favour of something more fashionable is shooting him/herself in the foot. They will be missing out on a great ownership experience, a brilliant product and a brand that has survived harsh economic climates due to its unfaltering dedication to engineering excellence and quality.