A LONG-DEPARTED relative’s last company car was a 1958 Pontiac; huge, blue and white, loaded with chrome and brutally beautiful. Or downright ugly if you favoured styling from England or Europe. Japanese was not yet an issue and Honda only made cheap, plasticky motorbikes that no-one took seriously. The point is that Pontiac’s MY58 offerings included seven sub-ranges, each with its own engines and transmissions. And each derivative looked slightly different.Everything changed in 1959 and for 1960 the designers returned from their easels with something newer.Things are different now. Shapes remain essentially unaltered for years on end; just engineering updates every so often and a mid-life crisis-relieving tweak or two when the current style starts looking old. The old mantra, “New shape, you gotta have this!” has made way for yet more electronic “stuff” that manufacturers declare is what we really want.The Honda Civic for 2019 does not add any gadgets and styling updates are subtle — a redesigned front grille; a bolder, three-dimensional front bumper; chrome garnish for the front of the 1.8 Comfort, around the fog lamps of 1.8 Elegance and 1.5T Executive models and new chrome detailing at the rear to highlight its wide, low stance. As always, the wheels are new — 16” double-spoked alloys in Shark Grey for Comfort, 17” scythe-styled rims in Dark Grey for Elegance and Executive, and similarly sized Berlina Black units for Sport.Cabin finishes were refined for a contemporary, textured look that varies according to model and sound-proofing has been further improved.Model-specific details remain basically unchanged, with one of the more popular items being the high-resolution, seven-inch LCD display that forms the centrepiece of the digital audio system. It enables connection with numerous smartphone functions, including maps to ease navigation. It’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on Elegance, Sport and Executive, making this the most connected Civic yet.The range still comprises four models. There’s birth-dad’s 1.8 Comfort, the 1.8 Elegance he really wants, new trophy-dad’s 1.5 Turbo Sport and his elder brother’s 1.5T Executive. They share a seven-step CVT. Only Honda and one or two others ever got it right.Basic 1.8 Comfort kicks off with an electric parking brake with auto hold; hill start assist; electric windows and mirrors; LED running lights; automatic air conditioner; 60:40 split rear seatbacks; a four-speaker sound system with five-inch display, Bluetooth and USB; ABS brakes with EBD and stability control; six airbags and auto-off headlights.By Executive level the car is fully loaded with keyless entry and start; remote starting; walk-away locking; automatically adjusting LED headlamps; satellite navigation and Honda’s Sensing Suite with forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control with low-speed following assistance.That’s over and above goodies inherited via the Elegance model: front fog lights; heated leather seats; speed limiter for the cruise control; warmed and folding outside mirrors; seven-inch display audio with HDMI jack, touchscreen and eight speakers; rain sensing wipers and paddle shifters.Uncle Buddy’s Pontiac certainly had more room inside and a bigger boot, but nothing at all like this. He might have been envious. Or just confused. Life was simpler back then. SOME NUMBERS: Prices range from R364 500 to R507 600Engines:a) 1 799 cc, SOHC, 16-valve, four-cylinder producing 104 kW at 6 500 rpm and 174 Nm at 4 300 rpmb) 1 497 cc DOHC, turbocharged four-cylinder, developing 127 kW at 5 500 rpm and 220 Nm between 1 700 and 5 500 rpmFuel tank: 47 litres Luggage capacities, seatbacks up: Maximum towing masses, braked/unbraked: Warranty: Five years/200 000 km with three years’ roadside assistanceService plans: Five years/90 000 km, at 15 000 km intervals for 1.8 litre and at 10 000 km for 1.5 turbo.