Honda’s experiment of building cars in Swindon comes to an end in the middle of next year. 

This is just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Civic car, which ironically will be the last model to be built in a town which also gave birth to railway engines and Spitfire aeroplanes. Honda joins them on the industrial scrap heap.

The company will have built almost four million cars in Swindon in a period just short of 30 years when they pull up the drawbridge. But it will have cost the company more than two billion pounds and 4,000 jobs will have disappeared from the Swindon landscape.

With great irony of all the factories that Honda use around the world the production quality is no better than that at Swindon, even if the workforce is due to lose their jobs. A great, great shame.

You can feel that quality that when you get behind the wheel of the latest Swindon model as Honda has revealed a range of upgrades for their 2020 Civic, which encompasses exterior styling enhancements and improvements to the infotainment system and materials used in the cabin to further enhance the car’s usability and premium feel.

The refreshed Civic builds on the car’s muscular stance by adding a new elegant, symmetrical lower front grille around the fog lights, with smoothed surfaces and sleek styling blades. A simpler grille beam configuration and new air-intake design give the front profile a cleaner, more aerodynamic design.

Upgrades to the Civic’s face also include full LED headlight clusters, and redesigned LED daytime running lights that follow the dynamic lines of the styling blades. New 16-inch alloy wheels are available for the entry-level model, while mid- and top-range models can be styled with sporty Shark Grey 17-inch alloys for customers wanting a more dramatic look.

It truly is an excellent car which is great to drive, feels 100 per cent safe and fun to be with. Quality just drips from it.

Adding to the range of existing colour options, the Civic is available in a stand-out new paint finish, Obsidian Blue, probably the best in the fleet.

The refined interior of the Civic has been upgraded with the inclusion of new textured interior panels that reinforce the sophisticated, premium ambience. The Civic continues to combine class-leading versatility and practical usability, now with the added benefit of an electric eight-way adjustable driver’s seat available on top-of-the-range models.

The intuitive, connected infotainment system connects the driver with the car seamlessly and incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Honda has enhanced usability by adding physical buttons and dials for the infotainment and climate controls, in response to customer demand.

The Civic retains its range of highly-efficient and powerful engines, with CVT or six-speed manual transmissions. The 1.0 litre VTEC Turbo unit, with 126 PS and 200 Nm of torque, achieves NEDC CO2 emissions from 107 g/km for the CVT-equipped model, and WLTP fuel economy from 49.6 mpg. The larger 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo petrol option produces 182 PS and 240 Nm of torque, with emissions from 128 g/km for the six-speed manual model and combined fuel economy of 45 mpg.

Honda’s recently revised 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel engine offers 120 PS and torque of 300 Nm, combined with emissions of 90 g/km when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, and fuel economy of 60 mpg.

The refreshed Civic retains a sophisticated chassis set up that delivers outstanding handling and ride comfort. A lightweight, highly rigid bodyshell – the product of innovative new engineering and construction techniques – complements the lower centre of gravity and the sophisticated MacPherson strut suspension system to deliver an engaging and fun driving experience.

The safety features of the Civic have active safety and driver assist technologies, installed on all grades. The safety system incorporates Collision Mitigation Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System and Traffic Sign Recognition.

Building on its 40-year heritage, the latest Civic remains a class-leading, practical car, now with added refinement and new dynamic styling. 

Swindon will go offline next year and when the new Civic hits the streets in less than a couple of years Japan is likely to be the production HQ and it will be the 50th anniversary for the Civic, the first arriving in Japan in 1972.

In 2016 Honda reached the 100 million-unit milestone in automobile production since they first started in 1963 with the production of the T360 mini-truck and the S500 sports car.

Since then Honda has increased annual production, enhancing its line up and exporting their vehicles to an ever wider range of countries.

Car production did not actually start in Swindon until 1992 – engines were built first – the factory at South Marston  provided work for 4,200 people at its peak. 

Production was up to a maximum of around 230,000 cars per year. Now it is around 100,000 as it dwindles downwards.

Goodbye to an old friend.