We are creatures of habit. We eat at the same restaurants, shop at the same stores, watch the same TV shows; essentially, we’re not big fans of change.
Many of us also tend to do the same thing when in comes to our cars. Stories like “this is my 4th Civic in 20 years” are not unusual, especially where cars like the latter or the Corolla or an F-150 are concerned (to name a few). These habitual buyers are crucial (and possibly lack imagination, but I digress…) to manufacturers as they represent believers in the product.
They are not solely responsible for the making or breaking of a car or truck. The success of a product relies on its ability to fulfill the wants and needs of its owner, and do it without a weekly trip to the garage for repairs, and ideally, last a really, really long time. The Honda Civic’s been at it for well over 40 years and it’s not lost any of its momentum. Or nearly…
Bring back the hatchback…
The death of the Civic hatchback by the 7th generation was a sad day indeed, made sadder still by the pathetic SiR hatchback… But beyond that low point, and possibly the first few years of the 7th and 8th gen Civics, this compact car has pleased and continues to do so on such a scale that it’s been crowned the bestselling compact car in Canada for a long time. Honda, do bring the hatchback back though, and not just as the Type-R.
My tester is a little bit of an oddball in the car’s lineup. The EX Coupe with a manual ‘box is far from being the most common on the road at $21,350 but it definitely has its merits. I’m a simple man (not exactly true) and as such, I prefer simpler designs. I was impressed with the 2006 revamp of the Civic for a few moments, I’ve since not been impressed with the car’s looks. The Coupe does not help in the matter.
What the hell do I know about styling? What I can say is that no matter what -- unless you’re the first to get your hands on the promised Type-R -- you’ll never get noticed. Even if you own an Si… There’s little or no flow to the coupe’s lines where the front looks and the rear portions of the car look like they belong to different automobiles.
It’s all there
The cabin’s much the same. There’s loads of design in the dashboard, but the driver-centric aspect makes the passenger’s side seem like an afterthought. I like the screen in this car, unlike the double ones in the RDX or Pilot for example. The ergonomics are easy to adapt to and there’s loads of room up front for the occupants. Fit and finish are good, and there’s really no debating Honda’s typically well-put-together products.
The EX is a popular trim thanks to its standard automatic climate control, rearview camera, and keyless entry. Honda’s LaneWatch blind spot monitoring system that displays what’s going in your right-hand blind spot is, in my opinion, dangerously distracting and completely useless. Thankfully, it can be deactivated.
What’s key with the Honda Civic is how it all comes together. And I know for certain that this is what keeps the buyers coming back for more or what is enticing new members to join the ever-growing Civic Nation.
The promise of a fun drive is what always has me happy about spending a week with a Civic. A manual coupe jazzes it up a little more.
Straight up, if you’re searching for “legendary” Civic performance brought on by the tuner nation and made all the more famous by The Fast and the Furious, you’re looking in the wrong place. In all honesty, despite the 1.8L 4-pot having been bumped up power-wise, its 143 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque are no more than adequate. In true Honda fashion, the engine has to whine far north of 4,000 rpm before anything happens. There’s a long gap after max torque waltzes in at 4,300 rpm and when max hp pops up at 6,500 rpm. So no, it’s not fast, but it’s still real sweet.
This is in large part thanks to the manual gearbox. Its clutch action is light, its friction point is obvious and generous, and the shifter glides from one cog to the next almost on its own. The 1.8L’s honest output numbers are ideally served by the 5-speed manual. Rev-matching is easy and forward progress is plain fun, in the truest sense.
The Civic Coupe drives like a Honda should, albeit with a little less drama than in the good old days, and that’s probably a good thing for new car buyers. Electric steering remains sharp but is very light while the 4-wheel disc brakes (rear drums on the LX) are more than up to the task of the daily grind.
What’s out there?
It is difficult to fault the Civic, especially if you’re looking for a compact coupe as there only two others to consider: the Kia Forte Koupe and the Scion tC. Of the three, the choice is simple. If you’re shopping for a sedan or a hatchback, the world is your oyster. Every major manufacturer has one on offer. My favourites include the Mazda3, Subaru Impreza and the Volkswagen Golf (despite #dieselgate).
If you opt for the Civic; congratulations, you’ve made an excellent choice and are supporting a nation’s habit.