What Is It?
Honda has taken the wraps off its 2017 Honda Civic hatchback prototype one day before the start of the New York International Auto Show, and we have to say that we think it is one sharp piece of work. Calling this car a prototype instead of a concept tells us we’re pretty much looking at the 2017 production model. Like the Civic sedan and coupe, the 5-door hatchback is wrapped in a racy exterior design that makes cars such as the Mazda3 and VW Golf seem tame by comparison.
In a nod to enthusiast drivers, Honda announced it will marry a 6-speed manual transmission to its new 174-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. This pairing will also occur on all turbocharged models across the Civic line, while the continuously variable automatic transmission will remain an option. Fuel economy figures have yet to be determined but are expected to remain near best in class.
From a styling standpoint, the Civic hatchback has a more aggressive stance than its sedan counterpart, with wider wheels and tires and more prominent air intakes. LED headlights and daytime running lights seem to flow out from beneath the Civic’s sculpted hood onto the flared wheel arches. Similar design themes are echoed at the rear. We’re not sure the center exhaust pipes or front air intakes will make the production-model cut, but we sure hope so.
Later in the year, Honda is expected round out the Civic lineup with a sporty Si trim and a high-performance Type R rumored to produce around 300 hp.
Priced in the low to mid-$20,000 range
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The newest Civic takes the economical common sense for which Honda is known and wraps it in a seductive 5-door hatchback with loud overtones of performance and fun. Taking a page from the Civic’s early years, the 2017 Honda Civic hatchback is once again a worthy competitor to the Mazda3, VW Golf and Ford Focus. In short, this is the Honda Civic that Honda Civic fans have been waiting for 20 years to drive.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Ford Focus — The Focus may be growing old, but it still offers up a smooth ride, quiet cabin and more technology than the Civic. There is also the high-performance Focus ST and RS and the eco-friendly Focus Electric.
2016 Mazda3 — The Mazda3 is known as one of the best-handling and most fuel-efficient hatchbacks on the market. Mazda’s high-end interior treatment makes the Mazda3 a joy to drive, but its interior sound levels are higher than most compacts, and its audio/navigation interface is still lacking.
2016 Volkswagen Golf — The Golf favors a comfortable ride over aggressive handling, and its styling is more mainstream than that of the Civic. On the flip side, the materials used in the Golf’s interior are nearly Audi-like in their look and feel. Too bad the diesel engine is still off the menu.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze — The Cruze hatchback offers sleek styling, a roomy interior and a fuel-efficient turbocharged 1.4-liter engine. At 154 hp, the Cruze isn’t as powerful as the Civic, but its MyLink touchscreen infotainment system is superior to the Civic’s setup.
Used Volkswagen GTI — The GTI delivers 200 hp and has some of the best sport seats of any compact pocket rocket. Fuel economy isn’t hurt by the more-powerful engine, but ride quality tends to be on the harsh side.
Used Lexus CT 200h — The Lexus CT 200h is a hybrid hatchback with more style than a Prius and a more luxurious pedigree than the Honda Civic.