The Civic constantly reminds me of how good of a car it is. Not only is it available in many different flavors – coupe, sedan, and hatchback form with regular, sporty, and super sporty performances, but its the quick-reacting chassis, ergonomically friendly controls, and a plethora of storage cubbies are what make the Civic a very easy car to enjoy.
However, its aging design and the continued onslaught of newer competition have revealed several blemishes in its armor and some of those shortcomings are noticeable during everyday use. But are they significant enough to ruin the charm of this Hatchback Sport Touring model?
The Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is equipped with features expected from Honda’s Touring trim such as with LED headlights, a leather interior, and premium audio, while its Sport label adds a dose of go-fast looks without the cost of major go-fast hardware.
What wasn’t expected, is the outdated feeling of certain designs as the rapidly changing market has seen significant advancements in tech and luxury expectations in a short time.
The Lane Wait-and-Watch Camera
Honda’s Lane Watch Camera system utilizes a wide view camera that’s mounted in the passenger mirror and displays the image on the central infotainment display. When it debuted, it was ahead of its time – it provided blind zone information without the cost of a radar system. Now that the radar technology has become less expensive and is readily available in competitors’ similarly priced vehicles, the short-comings of the camera system are less easy to shrug-off. The camera display requires a fraction of a second to turn on and the camera image requires some mental processing time as well before the system becomes truly useful – compare that to the radar systems’ go/ no-go indicator light. It does, however, provide more useful information, especially in an urban environment where bicyclists and haphazard scooter riders may be hiding alongside.
The Steering Wheel Controls go Click-Click
First off, the steering wheel feels great to hold. Its shapes and soft leather are a delight and better than most. Its controls are placed within a thumb’s reach, however, once they’re pressed, the click-click sound and feel give the impression of being low rent. Simply look to the Honda Insight and larger Honda Accord for examples of where the design could be by now, three years after the Civic’s debut.
Two-Thirds Auto-dimming Rear View Mirror
This design’s primary purpose is to reduce the glare of headlights automatically, however, the additional glass of the hatchback design highlights the fact that it’s rather poor at doing just that. The auto-dimming aspect is controlled by electrical currents on the surface beneath the glass but that electrically charged surface doesn’t extend to the edge of the reflective glass. The result is a constant glare from the cars behind and a strong desire to throw out this “upgrade” and simply install the manual, positional-dimmed, rearview mirror.
Good Power with Room for Added Finesse
While overall power is strong from the 1.5-liter turbo-four, a deep dip with the toe is required to get up off the line until the turbocharger’s boost kicks in. Then, just as the engine’s power builds, the CVT’s logic lowers the ratios and the acceleration rate quickly increases, requiring a concentrated effort with the throttle pedal for moderate smooth accelerations from a stop. Once underway, there’s little to complain about except for a droning noise around 3,000 RPM from the sport exhaust. It’s worth noting that a six-speed manual is standard (-$800) which would nullify nearly all drivability complaints.
More Room in the Back – for Cargo, not People
The open rear cargo area is one of the most compelling reasons to purchase the hatchback instead of the sedan or coupe. It approaches crossover-level of utility with the rear seats folded, however, when occupied, there’s actually less legroom than in the sedan and the hatchback’s arching roofline and unique structural design requirements encroach on real-world headroom.
Great Handling. Period.
Excellent steering feel, crisp initial turn-in, and straight-line stability make the Civic an easy car to drive and a fun one to hustle through the twisties. The excellent communication extends to the active safety systems, specifically the lane keep assist system, where it’s clear as day when it is helping keep the car in the lane. It’s quite accurate too.
The Familiar Honda Love
Examples of Honda ingenuity and efficiency are throughout. The cargo area retractable cover retracts to the side and allows for an open cargo area with the seats folded. The large center console can be configured a number of ways to fit everything from a shallow coffee cup to a large tablet. The front seats provide great lateral support and enough adjustments to provide a comfortable position on long drives. Lastly (but not least), the Civic’s exterior and interior trim fit and finish remains impressive for a sub-$30k car – a testament to Honda’s quality regiment.
Unique with a Purpose
Honda’s reputation for delivering an enthusiastic Civic has proven true once again with the Hatchback Touring Sport. Overall, its faults are relatively minor and its practical interior and exterior design achieves a sense of value that proves the worth of this unique Civic.