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The latest battle began with the arrival of Chevy‘s new 580-hp Camaro ZL1.But Ford has quickly regained the high ground with its all-new 2013 Ford Shelby GT500.But we’ll reserve the 2.0-liter’s final judgment until we can sample it with the CVT in either LX or EX guise.

Steering wheel turns lock-to-lock have been shortened from 2.8 to 2.2 to make the car feel livelier, and variable steering ratios were affixed to minimize the impact on the turning circle, which grows only slightly from 35.4 to 35.7 feet.The steering effort has a smidge greater heft than before but is still pretty light overall.The sloping roofline affects passenger entry into the rear, and it’s visually hard to believe there’s more back-seat space as the official specs attest.You do seem to sit deeper into the rear bench, so friend and family ride-alongs should be fine as long as they’re not terribly tall and won’t bump their heads getting in and out.Early Civics offered modest conveyance with a dash of enthusiast zest that most competitors wouldn’t bother with.

But the compact car deck has become stacked in the past half-decade—coinciding with a down period for the Civic—as newer and shinier C-segment sedans with impressive features and driving zeal have drawn our attention. Following an undistinguished ninth generation, the Civic is out to show that it may be over 40, but it’s still got it.

The Honda Civic, now more than 40 years young and coming into its 10th generation, has never been as challenged as it has been recently.

Honda, the great purveyor of Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC) technology during the industry’s darkest disco days, gradually developed into the pinnacle of economical and reliable transportation for the masses.

The 1.5-liter, turbocharged inline-four possesses a healthy 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque with a peak boost pressure rating of 16.5 psi.

Armed with a continuously variable automatic (the only transmission choice with the turbo) the engine slings a preproduction, top-of-the-line Touring sedan from 0 to 60 mph in a relatively quick 7.2 seconds and through the quarter mile in 15.5 seconds at 92.4 mph, faster than the EP3 Si.

During the ninth generation’s early days, it looked like Honda might be content to let the Civic scrape by on nameplate equity.