2017 Honda Civic Hatchback

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback

By Benjamin Young,

Honda Canada is calling 2016 the “Year of the Civic.” While this sounds like marketing speak, there are solid facts to justify the title: it was named the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Canadian Car of the Year, the North American Car of the Year, and it is currently the best selling passenger car in the country. Now, the manufacturer caps off the good news by announcing the arrival of the hatchback variant, soon to be found at a dealership near you.

2017 Honda Civic HatchbackA hatchback has almost always been present in the Civic lineup, since the time the very first model was released in the early 1970s as an entry-level subcompact. Only in recent years did the five-door disappear from showroom floors, but returns again in the 10th generation for a primary reason says Steve Hui, Honda sales and marketing senior manager, during an introduction at the head office in Markham, Ontario.

“More and more, when Canadians are buying cars it’s about versatility,” said Hui, adding the form factor is perfect for people who want their vehicles to be able to do everything. “The Civic Hatchback caters to someone that is extremely active and social. They need the extra room and versatility to support their lifestyle.”

If the front end looks familiar, that’s because the majority of the B pillar forward is shared with the sedan, minus the grille and front bumper. The other half, however, is completely new. Inspired by European styling — the hatch is built in the U.K., after all — the lift-gate steeply rakes downward, intersecting with the upper corners of the taillights that blend into a flared lip section. A cool discreet spoiler sits on top of the rear window, and the rear bumper features a pair of large blacked-out vents giving a distinctly aggressive appearance.

Sold in LX, Sport and Sport Touring trims, the latter two receive a little extra differentiation such as a full aero kit, 18-inch alloy wheels and a center exit dual exhaust system.

Getting back to what makes the vehicle versatile: due to its practical shape, this Civic can hold up to 728 litres of cargo behind the second row seating, which is 82 L more than the Ford Focus and 156 more than the Mazda3. My co-driver and I placed two carry-on bags inside and could have easily fit two more.

For privacy, the hatchback has a tonneau cover hidden inside a housing mounted off to the side that slides across, rather than a conventional cover retracting outwards from a bulky bar that needs to be removed when hauling large objects.

2017 Honda Civic HatchbackThe interior remains largely identical to the sedans and coupes, and the engine is also familiar. In Canada, all hatchback versions of the Civic use the same 1.5 L turbocharged four-cylinder engine similar to the unit found in upper level 10th gens. Outputs vary slightly between the grades: the base LX generates 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, and via performance tuning, a different exhaust system and the requirement of premium fuel, Sport and Sport Touring eke out an additional six horsepower for a total of 180. Both a six-speed manual transmission and CVT are offered.

As expected, the small displacement motor can become noisy under heavy throttle. The acceleration actually surprised me, though, particularly when exiting an on-ramp to merge onto  the highway. The car pulled quickly and strongly and produced a good amount of power throughout the rpm range. Handling, like every other modern Civic, is excellent. Same goes for fuel efficiency — practicing virtually no fuel-saving driving techniques, the combined city and highway consumption over several hundred kilometers averaged approximately ????

Slotting in above the other two body styles in terms of features and pricing, the LX starts at $21,390, the Sport at $25,190 and the Sport Touring at $29,390. All come with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility, as well as optional Honda Sensing safety suite with technologies including a collision mitigation system, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

Hayato Mori, senior product planning manager, says the Year of the Civic will continue on beyond 2016.

“It isn’t going to end with this third variation, either. In the future we will be bringing out more models in the form of Si’s and Type R’s,” says Mori.

“Our goal is to keep expanding this big bang of Civics to appeal to more Canadians.”

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