When the redesigned Civic launched last year it was – surprise, surprise – a resounding hit.  And you can check out my review by following the link up above.  But you know what you couldn’t get then; a stick shift and an additional 10 cubic feet of cargo volume.  But that’s been remedied here in the new Civic Hatchback.  



There is no more Civic Coupe or Civic Hybrid but there is a stellar new sedan, frisky Si model and an upcoming high-performance Type R.  And when you begin with a car that’s this good you might as well make as many variants as possible. 



So here’s the Hatchback, priced with a $1,000 premium over the Civic with a trunk for a starting MSRP of $24,365 including destination.  How much different is it than the sedan? 




It’s 5” shorter, can be had with a 6-speed and takes cargo volume with the seats up to over 24 cubic feet or the same as an HR-V. That’s basically it.  And the sedan does have a couple of advantages…more paint choices and better gas mileage. 



This top-of-the-line Sport Touring trim comes only in black, white or gray and in an apples-to-apples comparison loses up to 3mpg when equipped with the standard CVT.  But if you crave this kind of short throw shift for yourself fun make sure you choose one of the 4 Hatch trims that starts with the word Sport otherwise you’re getting a CVT…not a bad one but still. And then if you want the stick and the turbo? 


Well, you’re looking at it…you’ve got to go Sport Touring. 





The good news is that the manual is a no-charge option and the turbo is actually more fuel efficient than the 2.0-liter base engine. 




In typical Honda fashion there’s just about zero personalization options but at least everything you see here is standard for an as-tested price of $31,260.  And for that price you are getting a well-stocked car with leather, sport pedals, heated seats, a moonroof and the full panoply of driver assistance features. 



And it’s the Sport Touring that’s the only hatch that gets such goodies as parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear view mirror with garage door opener, a power passenger seat though one without height adjustment, and more substantive stuff like wireless phone projection, the big touchscreen with navi, an awesome sounding 12-speaker Bose sound system with sat and HD radio, a wireless phone charger, rear USB ports, and the bigger and better driver info screen. 

Outside, this is the only one to get fogs and dual exhaust finishers.  





Maybe you simply prefer the shorter hatchback design or you want to actually use your Civic for carrying more stuff.  This one has about double the standard cargo volume of the sedan with the exact same interior dimensions.




The retractable cargo cover that goes side-to-side as opposed to forward and back is very clever, there’s a small hump behind the rear seats otherwise this is a wide, flat carrying space, and there’s a cargo hook from which to hang bags.  And with no reduction in passenger volume the hatch’s added versatility makes a ton of sense. As for the drive…     



The light clutch pedal with super easy engagement, the fluid throws of the shifter – this is a great example of how a manual transmission car can still provide enjoyable motoring even in commuter type traffic.  And then when driving for fun the stick just ratchets up the excitement in a car that’s a delight to drive with an excellent balance of comfort and road feel.  But do I wish for more power here which is why the Si Hatchback would really hit the sweet spot for me.  Only problem is that car doesn’t exist.    

Rated at 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, launching from a standstill takes over 7 seconds to reach 60mph but anytime you add a stick to the equation the car just feels quicker and certainly more fun to drive.  Honda says the Hatch’s suspension tuning offers a somewhat sportier flavor than the Sedan’s but it’s difficult for me to really discern.  Either way this is the one I’d want to drive especially considering the other option is the CVT.  It also sounds pretty good.  It feels light, agile, and precise without the tax of a true sport model meaning it’s comfortable to use every day.  It’s the kind of car you look forward to driving with all of the practicality and attainability you expect from a Civic.  

Are there trouble spots?  Well, the infotainment system is brutally slow to load and populate with radio presets, etc but is otherwise a worthy and easy to use touchscreen and if you want to nitpick there’s no seatback pocket on the driver’s side,



no HVAC vents on the rear center console and a flaccid armrest.  But people space in general feels much roomier than ever and the look, with the honeycomb patterns and designer trim, exudes sportiness and quality.




With sharp styling, an exciting drive and SUV-fighting cargo room, the Hatchback is yet another variation to the Civic lineup worth keeping.







Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,