The cars we loved.
Every since it became my first car, I have always been partial to the Honda Civic. In the recent past there was little reason to be excited. Sure they had the reliability and quality that comes with an attention to detail that went beyond their price range, but they had become boring to drive and more so to look at. It wasn’t always that way. The announcement of a new Civic once came with high expectations that were always met or exceeded.
All the news reports and pictures suggested Honda might be on to something. Now that the real deal has been available for a few months, it think its safe to conclude that Honda seems to have got its mojo back with the new 7th generation Civic. longer, lower and wider, it’s as big as some early Accords. The new TRON inspired styling is a hit and the performance and efficiency is where a Civic should be – right near or at the top of its class.
The Civic get the details right inside and out. The exterior is sleek and sporty with a fastback design that mimics the Audi A7’s profile. At other angles the sedan looks like Nissan’s new Maxima. All of its visual references put it in good company, but it’s the interior where the Civic seems to shine the most.
The sweeping dash with a flowing center console looks like the interior duds of a much more expensive car. It’s great to see Mazda and Honda offering compact car buyers interiors that don’t look or feel like cheap compromises.
In addition to the nicely proportioned sedan, there is a coupe and four door hatchback. Arguably, it’s the sedan that is the most attractive of the trio. The coupe is less graceful in its overall execution, especially the busy rear. The compound angles and geometric creases look as if they run out of canvas too soon, not as pleasing as an Audi TT profile, yet just as conflicting. Allowing a longer rear overhang as in the sedan might have solved the problem. As is, it’s a taunt sporty look for the most part that reminds me of the pretty/ugly dichotomy presented by some Accord coupes before Honda ironed out it’s aesthetic issues – not for everyone.
The hatchback sedan is another mixed bag with proportions that look a bit bulky from the side profile. Photos of the hatch in Si trim look impressive while the standard car was less so. Interestingly, the hatch does not resemble the 2016 European car of the same configuration in any way (that might have been a good thing). Still Honda’s track record with four door hatch cars (remember the Crosstour?) has been hit or miss. The hatch is a welcomed addition nevertheless and has the potential to be the most attractive of the Civics by virtue of its versatility.
The sedan would have been a better starting point for a trick hatch design in much the way Audi’s A7 is a hatch, but hides it in a sleek sedan shell. Honda would have a knockout if it took this same path. I’m willing to bet that the typical Civic buyer would have sacrifice some cargo volume for style in this instance. Seeing the actual car in person might change my mind…
Civics come in a wide number of trim levels. A fully loaded top line Touring model can set you back nearly 30k! That price point was almost unheard of a few years ago for a compact car without a Audi or BMW badge on it. With a loaded Mazda 3 or Ford Focus reaching the 30k mark, the new price point is becoming the higher end norm.
With two engine choices at the moment, the Civic line promises high efficiency and some level of performance. A 2.0 four cylinder with just under 150 hp and joined by the first turbo in an American Civic, a 1.5 liter four with 174 hp. Both engine choices can come with a six speed manual or continuously variable transmission.
As with Civics, efficiency is important and even with the more powerful engine EPA highway figures reach the magical 40 mpg mark. It’s slightly higher with the continuously variable transmission. Kudos to Honda for still offering manuals, even though most people don’t want them. The maker of the NSX realizes that there is some marketing street cred in offering them to enthusiasts.
The new Civic faces an increasingly tough compact car market in America as Mazda, Hyundai and others are increasingly upping the level of polish in their small cars. The Civic has already made a good impression on the automotive press who have praised it in as a return to form. For the Honda faithful, the Marysville, Ohio designed Civic was just what the doctor ordered just as Honda’s most popular car was going through a mid-life identity crisis.