The 2022 Honda Civic sedan has finally arrived, donned in conservative body panels that make the automobile come across as more attractive and adult than its predecessor. While the tenth-generation model had a lot going for it, its appearance was quite polarizing. Honda designers created an angular buffet that made every Civic look as though it had been customized inside a videogame where caricatures of gearheads argue with each other about who will become the local street racing champ.
It was perhaps too exciting for a vehicle that’s primarily designed for mundane tasks, which is why Honda ran in the complete opposite direction with the eleventh generation. Reminiscent of the straightforward fifth-generation model, the newest Civic boasts the cleanest bodywork we’ve seen in decades and will provide a significant amount of wiggle room for designers to better differentiate performance variants.
While the Honda Civic Sedan Prototype we saw last year was already a shoo-in for the production model, there’s always a chance that the brand will go against its own instincts and try to dazzle us with something that’s never coming to market. But it’s one of those “snowball in hell” kind of deals.
In addition to Honda being ultra-consistent and delivering prototypes that actually represent for-sale models, an example of the 2022 model year Civic leaked in China and we doubt the company has any intention of redoing the exterior just to surprise our market.
Honda received much flogging from the press for the last-generation Civic. The 2012 model was the result of Honda improperly reading the Magic 8-Ball amid the global slowdown. Honda’s decision makers assumed shoppers would be looking for something more modest, perhaps even austere, and changed direction to suit. The competition, assuming shoppers would be looking for greater creature comforts in a smaller package, went the opposite direction and doubled down on luxury features.
The conventional wisdom has been that Honda “stepped in it” with the ninth-generation sedan. Journalists complained about the plastic quality, the styling and … customers paid little attention. The Civic’s sales dipped slightly in 2011 during the changeover, but rapidly rebounded to over 315,000 units a year since. Some would say that Honda’s “emergency refreshes” were the reason for the sales success, but I propose a different answer: the continued sales success of the lesser-than Civic and an increase in sales of “premium” compacts showed there was plenty of room in the segment for both.
Whatever the reality, one thing is for certain: When it came time to design the tenth-generation Civic, Honda had “austere” removed from the company dictionary.
It only took Honda 15 years to get the Civic right again.
After Honda, a company known for engineering prowess in the 1990s, attempted to make the Civic a more palatable option for plain jack and janes — enthusiasts either hung on to what they had or went elsewhere.
To me, the last real Civic was the sixth-generation model, which Honda sold from 1996 to 2000. It was also the last generation that Honda sold as an honest to goodness hatchback in North America. Sure, the British-built Si came to our shores later, but you needed to shell out big bucks for Honda’s pride and joy from Swindon.
Thankfully, the automaker is going back to its roots — 15 years in the past — to deliver a driving experience I’ve missed since saying goodbye to my 2000 Honda Civic Coupe many, many years ago.
And, to top it all off, there are now two flavors — regular and turbocharged.
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