Get used to the new Honda Civic. Whatever you make of its sometimes-controversial new shape, the 2016 Civic is certainly attention-grabbing. And Honda hopes future derivatives of its new compact keep up the momentum.
Honda showed the thinly disguised Civic Hatchback prototype this month at the Geneva and New York auto shows, and if its thinly disguised Civic Coupe prototype shown at this time last year is any indication, what you’re looking at is the new Civic Hatchback that will be at dealerships later this year.
And that’s a great thing, because the 2016 Civic sedan and coupe proved Honda can be on their game and make a compelling compact car again. The Civic manages to go above what’s expected of a $20,000-ish car today.
The compact hatchback market, however, is getting crowded and competitive again after years of being left for dead by mainstream automakers. Aside from the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra GT and Kia Forte5, a new Chevy Cruze hatch and the renamed Toyota Corolla iM are also vying for attention. And then there’s the Volkswagen Golf, which punches far above its price class in terms of performance and refinement.
The Civic is in a good place, however, thanks in part to a lot of useful technology on offer – lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are widely available. There’s also the strong turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine available that provides a great combination of performance and fuel efficiency. Its story will get better for 2017, when the hatch arrives, because Honda will finally offer a six-speed manual transmission on turbocharged Civics. That transmission is already a treat to use on base Civics with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, so one could only imagine the feel of it when that turbo boost kicks in.
Count on the Civic Hatchback to combine ease of use with fetching looks, something that might be just what the segment needs to get attention in a crossover/SUV world. Because what the world needs now is more hatchbacks like this.