By on October 7, 2016

Why Drive Honda When You Could Drive BMW?, Image: BMW of Sarasota

How ’bout that new Civic sedan? I don’t know about you, but I think it’s the boldest mainstream design I’ve seen from a Japanese manufacturer since Honda got rid of the hidden headlamps on the Accord back in ’92. It’s got a ton of surface texture, a vicious fastback profile with a tiny trunk opening, and big wheel arches like a show car.

There’s only one problem; it’s a clear and present riff on the Audi A7. But as we’ll see, this is a game Honda has played before.

Readers of the decent automotive press in the late ’70s — that would be Car and Driver, Road & Track, and AutoWeek — knew there were two automakers who had cracked the code for quality, desirability, and durability: Mercedes-Benz and Honda. They were the choice of the cognoscenti, the men who wanted the best car money could buy. If you had fuck-you cash, you bought a Benz SEL. If you didn’t, you bought the Honda Accord.

1979 Honda Accord Sedan Advertisement, Image: American Honda

To capitalize on the growing Stateside popularity of the Accord, Honda designed a four-door sedan variant. All of a sudden, the primary objection that anyone could have to Accord ownership — the two-door, short-wheelbase, hatchback form factor — was gone. Now all you had to do was suffer through the ministrations of your thoroughly corrupt and despicable local Honda dealer, which might well have performed felony bribery and collusion to get that particular unit of allocation and was determined to make you pay through the nose for its trouble.

The Accord sedan added extra chrome and luxury detailing to the existing platform. But it was the styling of the rear end that raised eyebrows. From the beginning, the taillights were an obvious nod to Mercedes-Benz, so much so that they were quickly revised to have a horizontal separator for the brake light instead of the early W123-style yellow/red/clear blocks.

Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 (W 116 series, 1972 to 1980), year of manufacture 1975, Image: Daimler

There was certainly no mistaking an Accord for a 450SEL, whether up-close or at a distance. But the staid lines, the heavy chrome detailing, and the massive rectangular taillights — those were signals nobody could miss. The Accord sedan was a rip-roaring success. The rest is history.

1994 Honda Civic EX Coupe, Image: American Honda

In 1992, Honda gave the Civic its most dramatic single revision ever, abandoning the bread-van look of 1984 and 1988 for a sleek, aero style that cloaked a car that had gotten significantly larger and more powerful. But the talk of the town was the new Civic coupe. It was the first Civic in history to prioritize form over function, and it did that in a big way. It was hugely popular with young people and would eventually be integral (*wink*) in starting the fast-and-furious Honda movement four or five years later.

We adored the low nose, the high tail, the big wheels, and the open, low-windshield cockpit. But what most of us really liked was that it looked, from most angles, just like this:

1992 BMW 325is 2-door coupe, Image: BMW

The 1990s were the BMW Decade. The three-pointed star was suffering from consumer fatigue and the aging of its pre-Boomer core buyer base. The next generation of 30-somethings was choosing BMW as their preferred status signal. The E36 coupe was on the vanguard of that: sleek, futuristic, blindingly fast courtesy of its 189-horsepower inline-six. But if you couldn’t afford a Bimmer, Honda had a car that gave you the same kind of excitement and street cred, only in a smaller dose.

2016 Honda Civic Sedan, Image: © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

The new Civic is a step ahead for Honda, and it’s a bold attempt to once again add that mixture of durability and desirability to the Honda brand. It’s a very large car, and it’s not hugely space-efficient. Honda is leaving that to the Koreans as they start their inevitable march upmarket.

2012 Audi A7, Image: © 2012 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

Since introducing the A4 in 1999, Audi has gathered momentum. Today, it’s the equivalent of Mercedes-Benz in 1978 or BMW in 1992; it’s the choice of young people with money and taste, and it’s become an aspirational acquisition for anybody who can sniff at that sixth figure on their W-2. Honda’s got the A7 firmly in its sights, but today they aren’t the only people willing to quick-bake some tribute styling. The Malibu has it, too, and there are more fastbacks coming.

What’s next? What star will rise to replace Audi, and what will the Hondas of 2030 look like? I suspect that Honda wishes its Acura division could offer that styling and prestige leadership — but I have my money on a resurgent Mercedes-Benz. Its new product is dynamite and the company has finally made a clear division between its A-class prole fodder and the rest of the lineup. So will the next Civic look like an S-Class, all Baroque curves and drooping trunk? Only time will tell.

[Images: BMW of Sarasota, American Honda, Daimler, BMW, © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars, © 2012 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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70 Comments on “A Little Japanese Sausage: 35 Years of Honda’s Takes on Leading German Cars...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Had so many Hondas/Accuras in the family from 1981 until now that it would take more time than I currently have to count. Civics, Civic Realtime AWD Wagovan, Accords, Preludes, Elements and Integras.

    Not once (knock wood) experiencing a premature repair or breakdown.

    At one time if my memory is correct some magazine claimed that the Prelude outperformed the 3 Series in a slalom? I am sure that the B&B can correct me on this or provide more information.

    Our ’86 Accord sedan (with the pop-up headlights) is still my wife’s favourite of the very many vehicles we have had. Purchased as a very low mileage demo, with a manual transmission. Had the dealer install A/C, as Hondas did not have factory air at that time as part of Mr. Honda’s policy. Also had them install a 3rd brake light which was not legally required in that model year in Ontario.

    At one time Honda was synonymous with inexpensive fun and reliability. Lost much of the fun factor years ago. And too bad that they messed up Accura. The Legend, Vigor, Integra line-up was truly formidable.

    In the late 80’s one of my Uncles traded a late model Jaguar sedan for an Accord sedan, and never regretted it.

    Edit: Yes it does appear that Honda is restoring ‘fun’ to it’s lineup. James May spent some time decrying Hondas for lsoing sight of their original market and building ‘boring’ vehicles. And I for one really like the fact that they are returning the Civic hatchback to our market.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s still there. Go test drive the V6 Touring Accord and find out for yourself.

    • 0 avatar

      “Lost much of the fun factor years ago.”

      Most of us now view fun as suspect. Enthusiasts just haven’t caught up.

    • 0 avatar

      “James May spent some time decrying Hondas for lsoing sight of their original market and building ‘boring’ vehicles.”

      This seems a bit cliche at this point, when has Top Gear featured an automaker and NOT cried “They made great cars, now they make boring cars, but now they’re fun again!”.

    • 0 avatar

      I have had several Hondas myself, several CRXs and Accords, a Civic and an Integra. They represent a good, quality, fun to drive car with all the character most of their Japanese counterparts (namely Toyota and a lot of Nissans) lack. Yes they are mostly FWD econoboxes, but they’re very good at that.

      No, they aren’t the nicest riding or the cheapest to fix, but I would rather spend more on repairs to drive a CRX again vs. a Corolla.

      I don’t always prefer a Honda, but I generally prefer one to many other cars.

  • avatar

    All I know is that my 2 month old 2016 Accord Touring V6 Sedan is absolutely incredible. And I say this as an avowed Mazda fan. It replaced my 2008 TSX (which replaced the 2006 Mazda3 Sport GT that my Dad totaled) and it’s essentially a E Class for less than half the money. Handling and ride is right, breaking is amazing and that Honda V6 + 6AT combo is so deliciously smooth and quiet that on the very first day, my Dad popped the hood to see if they screwed us over by giving us an Accord Hybrid instead lol. So ya, I can def see Honda copying ze Germans but hey, I could never afford a E Class but in many ways I have one now that will probably last longer.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a big fan of the current-gen Accord, and have actually talked several friends into getting one over a Korean imitator, but Senator, the Accord is no E-class

      • 0 avatar

        General, actually :) He led the Romans to victory against Attila.

        Oh I didn’t say the Accord is an E Class! I’m saying for less than half the price I’m able to own something that’s quite remarkably similar to it and built well to boot.

        • 0 avatar

          The “similar car for less money” idea is a slippery slope. Sure the Accord is near enough the E-class, but isn’t the Civic near enough the Accord for less money still? Isn’t a used lexus with a CPO/Carmax warranty closer to the E-class and potentially priced lower than the Accord?

          Look, the Accord V6 is a nice car. And the milage / power tradeoff (or lack thereof) is astonishing. But it’s not the budget E class it once was. And when you need new rotors after 50k miles you’ll realize where Honda saved some money verses the Mercedes.

          • 0 avatar

            When you replace the brake rotors, you will see how you save money with the Honda versus the Mercedes, too.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah, because the Mercedes won’t need *anything* super hyper expensive by 50k miles….

            Hehehe. Sorry, can’t even say that with a straight face.

          • 0 avatar

            @yamahog, actually no. The Accord and the E class are similar in interior size, while the Civic is much smaller.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            The pad-and-rotor prices for Japanese cars are amazingly cost effective – $250 for pads and rotors for my Outback, even upgraded to cross-drilled. MUCH less expensive that replacing just the rear brakes on my Saab.

        • 0 avatar

          I think, 2016 v6 Accord is more like 5yo bmw 528

    • 0 avatar

      My mom drives a 16 accord touring v6 coupe and ive driven multiple of the sedans, while its a great car the sedan is nowhere near an e class, i would consider its build qaulity similar to c class possibly a little worse, but it is leagues better than a cla and better than anything else in the segment for the price

      • 0 avatar

        I think the E Class comment I made is being taken too seriously lol. I didn’t at all mean to say its as good…in fact I still lust for the E 63 AMG every day because my neighbor small business guy has one in black. BUT, for $40,566 Canadian, I’m only about 7-8K more than a loaded Civic here but I’m driving a car that feels like a luxury car, moves fast and has 278HP. far more expensive lower trim 3s and Cs don’t rock this much power :)

        • 0 avatar

          Then why didn’t you just say that LOL?

          If you’re just classifying cars by whether or not they’re sedans with leather and waftable torque, why not compare your Accord favorably to a Bently/Rolls/Mercedes S class LOL?

        • 0 avatar

          I’m with you there.

          My mom has a current gen V6 Touring, and the fun per dollar value has to be amongst the best on the market.

          Yes, the paint is thin, it’s a bit loud relative to the competition (17 in winters are so much nicer than the OE 18s), the gas tank is about 10l too small to make it a proper long distance hauler, and the infotainment system is a bit bonkers –

          BUT – it’s a family sedan that sounds GLORIOUS when you’re stomping on it, it handles well, and it’s well equipped. Did I mention the sound? I’m more a fan of my German V8’s, but the metallic thrum of the earthdreams approaching redline can’t help but put a smile on my face.

    • 0 avatar

      Hell, the 1992-1995 Civic Sedans looked E-Class-ish from the rear 3/4-view.

      Accords and Civics aren’t E-Class-worthy (given that the interiors are a little down-market from even past efforts. Doesn’t mean they’re not good! (I look forward to a little higher-quality fitment next Accord–my moonroof sunshade is coming apart in front; Accord-ing to my dealer’s service manager, a local trim shop can fix it better than new for ~$100 or so, but….)

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Have you not driven a refined car before your new Accord? Seriously? It’s a nice car, but it’s not comparable to an E-Class. Different league to go along with it’s different price bracket.

      You’re much better off comparing your Accord with a Camry because that really makes much more sense. To say that you’re getting a similar car for half the money is a bit like saying that your 50-cent apple is every bit as good as a dollar orange.

      • 0 avatar

        Didn’t mean to imply E-Klasse equivalency. Yes, the Accord competes in the same league as Camry, Fusion, 6, Sonaptima, Altima, etc.! Then again, Accords and their ilk don’t start out in the mid-40Ks, either! (Or is that C-Class money?)

        The 5th-Gen Civic Sedan’s roofline had a hint of E-Class Benz to it.

    • 0 avatar

      Great Car, just wish current car designs would make the digital screen(s) obsession optional.

      I dont want to drive my cellphone/tablet around stuck in my face. Really i just like The Car!!! one screen buried in the dash is more than enough.

  • avatar

    The Audi A4 was introduced in 1994 as a ’95 model. Typo?

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. For the US The earliest cars were ~7/95 mfg dated. Those would be the A4’s still wearing the fender football Audi logos but without the lower door edge moldings. The ’96 didn’t even have a US specific trunk lid (nor did the ’98 wagon).

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      1999 was the facelift and it was when the car took off IMO.

      • 0 avatar

        I think the ’96 was the car that had the big impact. At least in my neck of the woods, it was the car that turned Audi from a weird nerd car to “like a BMW but cooler.” By the time the facelift came the turnaround was already in full swing.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree. I acquired a ’96 A4 in September ’95 as a company car. The A4 transformed Audi’s fortunes in North America, and was followed by the A6, A8 and TT in relatively quick succession.

          The ’99 refresh built on the success of the original.

  • avatar

    Don’t forget the mid 80s to early 90s plays on the E30, all the way down to the Hoffmeister kink. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…. word to the CLS aping, fortune changing late aughts Sonata, Ford’s reappropriation of the Aston grille etc….

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I think the 2006 was a much bolder move for Honda than this one. They made something that didn’t look like anything else on the road – completely distinctive. I thought it looked like a monorail train car. I didn’t really care for it, but it was definitely out of the norm.

    It was such a departure that Toyota completely scrapped their redesign of the Corolla and started over to try to compete with it.

    That car also managed to be very roomy inside while maintaining small dimensions outside. That’s something this car just doesn’t do.

    This car took elements from other existing cars and smashed them together. Everyone is doing the faux fastback. Everyone is making their cars seem taller.
    In fact, everyone is trying to do what AMC did in the 1980s. Tall 4×4 cars and the Jeep Wrangler.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you Land Ark, it amazes me that everyone manages to forget about the 2006 redesign. It was hailed as being revolutionarily different within the compact sedan market, a market which at the time was still lacking a lot of the competition it faces today (Cruze, Focus, Elantra, Forte). But Honda went out on a limb and, despite having the driest of competitors (namely the Carolla in its 4th year) did something crazy but still functional and clean.

      To me, the current design is interesting and (mostly) attractive, but fundamentally derivative. The 2006 design was all its own beast, and it worked.

  • avatar

    Ah, that SEL is still stunning to see, even after all of these years. But my “Blau mit Weiss” heart pangs after that E36 coupe (I had one, but in green. Amazing what “only” 189 HP could feel like). But during the late 80s/early 90s, most of my family had Hondas, and for good reason. Sis had two, first a 1989 CRX Si. That car still lives on in our minds as legend. Probably the most fun I ever had on four wheels (that I can discuss on an open forum, anyway). She traded it for a 1992 Prelude Si, that while much nicer never really captured our hearts as the little CRX did. My cousin had two first gen CRX, the second being a 1988 Si. His sister (other cousin) kept a 1988 Honda Civic LX for what felt like an eternity and finally passed it down the family line somewhere in the early 2000’s. My uncle (father to above-mentioned cousins) owned two Accord two doors (one 1988, the other a 1989) and then a mid 90’s loaded Accord four door that I thought had it been equipped with a manual, would have been perhaps the perfect car. Super sight lines, open glasshouse, clean interior, nimble handling and dead-cold reliable. Yeah, for years it appeared as if Honda had perhaps lost the map to the road that made them what they are. But a co-worker out here has a silver four-door Accord Sport (I believe 2016) that just looks fabulous. My favorite car within Honda’s line up right now. Not sure how I feel about the Civic yet. Just too busy from a design standpoint. Still, it seems as if “fun” is creeping back into Honda’s playbook.

  • avatar

    For a couple of generations, Honda has attempted to position the Civic as a youth car. (The two-tier dash comes to mind.)

    More recently, Toyota has developed a more aggressive design language. I would surmise that this latest Civic is more of a response to the Corolla than borrowing from Audi.

  • avatar

    The number 1 problem I have with American Honda has been their dealers.

    In the Southern California region, they are essentially unapproachable.

    “You want our car? Yes? No? We don’t care. You will pay $1500+ over sticker either way, will get add ons shoved down your throat, will get no choice of options/color beyond the 20 total cars we have on the lot, no we won’t find one for you, no we won’t deal. We done here? I’ve got more potential customers to tell to frig off and send RUNNING to the Toyota/Mazda store across the street…”

    5 different dealers in my area were this exact same way. I’ve heard legend that there is a single (1) fair dealer somewhere 100+ miles away in the LA area, but have never had the inclination to seek it out.

    Several times over the years our family has been in the market for a Honda, only to find out the dealers stock so few cars (by intent) that they can claim each and every example on the lot is rare, and make you take what you get for thousands over sticker.

    Sorry I don’t want to play by those games.

    Compact/standard transportation vehicles are not a commodity, it’s not Soviet Russia, its San Diego in 2015. Toyota has NEVER added an ADM to any standard car I’ve seen, same with Mazda in my area.
    All of the Mazda/Toyota dealers I went to stocked hundreds of cars, not the 20 of Honda dealers, and when I demanded (twice) manual trans in a specific color, no options, neither balked.

    So I went and bought their cars, twice. I think Toyota builds a superior vehicle to Honda as well, and now that their dealers as of 10 years ago finally got off the high horse that the 1993 Camry put them on, are actually really great to deal with. Gave me so much money off my last car (leftover 2015 bought May/16), I drove off the lot and the value actually increased.

    Honda? I would consider buying their cars via a direct sales Tesla type model. Under the current system? Forget it. They are still living in the 80s Honda mentality where if you beg them enough, maybe they will sell you some base model automatic car with $1k pinstripes. The rest of the world has moved on and their Mexico built cars just aren’t that good anymore.

    Anyone that even DREAMS of a Type R that lives here…good luck. I am expecting $20k ADM minimum. Go buy one in another state. I

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had several Honda bought new in the L.A. area.
      2003 Accord EX 4 dr, 2005 Accord EX 2 door and 2012 CRV EX fwd. All of them were discounted.
      Sorry to hear of your experiences. I did need to leave the downtown, Westside area to score those deals.

  • avatar

    I for one welcome the “boring dreadful dull terrible” newer Hondas. You can go for more than 100k on a water pump!

    • 0 avatar

      Try 13 years and 124k. I’ve spent about $500 if that in the last $50k miles. It is not luxury comfortable, but I spent many times more on my BMWs, even if I fixed things myself.

      I will replace my Honda with a bimmer again or an S2000. I need to start to save for repairs now.

  • avatar

    If this article is about copying Germans, Mazda has been for while. You get into my 2011 Mazda3 at night – it is Audi/VW for sure. The newer ones, like cx5 – BMW

  • avatar

    Seriously derivative styling, but… those are some of my favorite cars. The civic and integra were so … right for their time. The Accord that was so good it turned the entire dealership network into … well, drug dealer ethics come to mind. This newest civic has me thinking about FWD again. …. maybe. The FoRS is strong with Ford right now…

  • avatar

    I still like the ’88 Civic over the ’92 one. The only bit of the ’92 I ever fancied were the door handles. They’re decent to drive though, pretty zippy. I borrowed one in college from a friend to drive home a couple times.

    • 0 avatar

      The 88 Civic sedan may very well be one of the few compact sedans done right. The one after didnt quite have as much “class”.

      • 0 avatar

        Very cleanly styled, subtle, and with the full rear reflector was especially nice.

        • 0 avatar

          Another cool thing about that Civic was the engine, 90 something hp with factory fuel injection (an option even on Accords of that time, letting most Civics have more hp for once).

          • 0 avatar

            Whatever, I want the LeBaron GTS.

          • 0 avatar

            Ryoku, not quite right. ’88 Civics debuted the D series engine with D15B1 on base hatchbacks with about 70hp, D15B2 on DX/LX had 92hp. Fuel injection was of a somewhat cheap/low-end throttle body sort. Basically two injectors sitting atop the intake manifold in the same basic location that a carburetor would normally sit. Pretty laggy feeling throttle IMO, I never cared for it on my ’90 Wagon. The EX Sedan, Si Hatchback, and 4wd Wagon got the up-market D16A6 motor with true sequential fuel injection (1 injector per cylinder mounted near the intake valve on the intake manifold) like we normally think of port injected systems. These had 106hp.

            Accord in ’88 had the A20 motor, that in carb’d tune made 98hp, and a decent 120hp when fuel injected on the LX-i and SE-i. So power wise it still had the edge over the throttle body injected Civics, although in terms of acceleration it may have proven to be a draw.

          • 0 avatar

            At gte:
            My bad, but for diy purposes I’d still take the Civics engine over anything carbbed from that period. Though, I could possibly live with it in a nice Accord hatchback.

  • avatar

    The a7 is a proper lift back and elegantly styled. The civic has a worthless trunk and garish styling. If you gonna rip something off, dont do it half way.

  • avatar

    I absolutely adore the A7, and if I get my own f*ck you money it’s going to be the first thing on my shopping list. And I like the overall profile of the new Civic. But the problem is in the detailing: The Civic has the right general shape, but just *too much* going on, front and back. The A7 is everything it needs to be and not a bit more. The Civic is everything it needs to be and a bunch of other stuff just in case, and for me it’s trying too hard. If they stretched it out and simplified it it would probably be gorgeous; as it is, I’ll wait for my ship to come in and buy the real thing.

    • 0 avatar

      The early pictures of the 2018 Accord hint at a similar A7 shape but likely with more conservative styling in the rear. Very curious to see how that comes out next year. That and an interior refresh would be great to see.

  • avatar

    When the Accord lost the pop up lights in ’90, I initially despised the new style. Later, I saw it as being the smoothest of all the look-alike early 90s cars in terms of aping the Audi 5000/100. I bought a very used one later which turned out to be my longest owned and most reliable vehicle to date.

    Ten cars later, I got a Fit EX three weeks ago after being ordered for 2 months. Love it. Thought I might have made a mistake by not waiting for the Civic hatchback, but it’s too large and too surfaced for my tastes.

    Still trying to get 80 yr old Mom out of ’98 LeSabre, and picked her up yesterday. She’s ridden in the Fit twice and seems to like it. It would be perfect for her. “Mom, you can get this with an automatic (CVT, don’t confuse her) instead of a manual like mine.”

    “I know Hondas are good. Your sister hasn’t had any problems with her Pilot. But have you seen the new Civics? That’s something I’d consider.”

  • avatar

    Stop it….just stop it…The new civic is ugly A.F. The taillights look like klingon eyebrows. It’s hideous. I’d rather drive an HRV.

  • avatar

    I always thought the 79 Civic front end was “inspired” by the Audi 100. Soichiro H. was always keeping an eye on all the German marques.

  • avatar

    The Audi is an attractive car but the rear end of the A7 makes me think of The Incredible Mr. Limpet’s face.

    Speaking of A7 like rear ends, this ’61 Impala wagon Ridler Award finalist probably got the idea second hand from the current Malibu and Impala, but it’s nicely done.

  • avatar

    Did not buy 2016 Civic but got a competitor instead. Civic has striking styling. I was not concerned whether Honda was copying any German brand this year when car shopping. Mainly considering price, reliability, utility, total cost of ownership. Not sure an enthusiast would look at such things. Local Honda dealer did have added dealer markup on most of the showroom cars. I ignored this and just asked for a quote on the Civic LX auto with no options in any color. Civic cost thousands more than the Toyota competition at the time. Both auto trans models of Civic and Corolla have the CVT. Both CVT’s ok in normal driving. But an enthusiast always has to condemn CVT’s. Consumer Reports rates Corolla higher in reliability. My personal experience with Honda is not good at all. Added dealer markup. Bad dealer service dept. Bad breakdown history on my Honda. Includes expensive transmission, AC, frequent brake warping, all engine mounts more than once, pwr windows, leaky timing belt tensioner, IAC valve, Egr system and ports, ignition coil, other oil leaks and other issues. Did not buy Civic. Been buying cars over 35 or so years. Whether any are copying the German is not important.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I will take a Japanese or South Korean car any day over a German vehicle on the basis of value and reliability. German cars sell mainly on status and perceived quality from the past. Now you can lease snobbery at an affordable price. As for performing better at 0 to 60 the Germans win but how many of us drive on the Autobahn or race our vehicles. If you can afford a BMW, Mercedes, Audi, or Porsche then you should be able to afford the higher cost of parts and repairs then you don’t need to prove anything, but there are many who buy German cars who cannot really afford their upkeep. I would rather pocket the savings between a Japanese or South Korean car over a German car and put it in my retirement fund.

  • avatar

    The new Civic is trying way too hard to be clever and stylish. Too many creases. Odd tail lights. Overdone wheel arches. It’s a design that will not wear as well as any of the past “classic” Civics. The original Accords, the ’92 Civic – Honda’s best designs had a measure of style and restraint that makes them even look fresh today. That’s what the best German designs do – they advance the ball effortlessly. THey make it look easy. The current Civic lacks any sense of restraint. Maybe I’d by one if I wanted prove how stylish I am. But that’s trying too hard for a car of this ilk.

  • avatar

    The best handling Honda I had was our ’86 Accord four-door, once I replaced the original tires with Pirelli P6’s. With the four-wheel upper/lower A-arm independent suspension and Pirelli’s, and good rack and pinion steering, it drove like it was on rails. Response was fantastic. Most fun factor for the price I’ve ever had.

    Do they do four-wheel independent suspensions like that anymore? I recall that the original Datsun 240Z had the same arrangement. The only problem is, as they accumulate miles, the pivot bushings on the A-arms get sloppy and are apparently expensive to replace. But when fresh, with great tires, the ’86 Accord was a hoot to drive.

  • avatar

    Since I was a Fiat nut back in the day, I clearly recall one of Al Cosentino’s rants in his catalogue about how Toyota (another Japanese mfg) had a full page ad saying they had made more twin cam engines than anyone else in the world. IIRC, they implied they practically invented it.

    And of course Fiat had that place in history, not Toyota. Al was pissed.

    The Japanese have made good money taking other peoples’ ideas and copying them, then re-selling them to Joe Public. The cognoscenti see this easily, but those people are in the clear minority. It will continue, because it’s successful.

    About the only innovation I saw Honda bring to the automotive world back then (we’re talking the 1980s) was the CVCC combustion chamber. But if you worked on those, clearly there was an uncle in the family with a hose and tube factory, and they used them quite liberally.

    I worked on a lot of cars back then, and never could quite understand the Japanese engineering way of thinking. Their marketing, however, was completely transparent.

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