When all-new versions of consumer cars are released by manufacturers, more often than not you can easily identify them even if their badges are missing. That's the new Ford Everest and that's the new Mitsubishi Lancer. If you lined up all the generations of Toyota Corollas, I could tell you which ones came first, second, third and you know what I'm getting on about. I can't say the same about the Honda Civic. Their design philosophy couldn't be further from Porsche.
Is this a bad thing? Not at all, because they're progressive. Where the design language leaps, the rest of the car does as well. It's a bold move forward that leaves no stone unturned, and its one that has not failed to impress. If its predecessor is an iPod Classic, this is the iPod Touch. This is Honda at its finest. So really, forget everything you know about the Civic and just be re-introduced to this one. It's a completely different automobile altogether.
The exterior is striking. I can't say that it is a timelessly beautiful design, but it is modern and sharp. It looks unusual and futuristic, which really suits the character of the car. It is quite huge and when it appears on your rearview mirror, it has a very commanding presence to it - a feat that its competitors don't possess.
While the reasons for its head turning abilities may be attributed to the fact that it is new in the market, the fact that all the stares were focused on it while I drove behind in an M Performance BMW coupé tells you all you need to know about its presence.
"It has European performance car figures from a Japanese motor no bigger than the free Coca-Cola you get from Shakey's Pizza."
The interior is leaps and bounds better than the model it replaces. It has a far more premium touch. From the leather seats to the lovely steering wheel, Honda have gotten this licked. I've never connected terms like 'roominess' and 'space' with the Civic, but this time I can. I stand at 6 feet 2 inches tall, and with my driving position in front left untouched, I can sit right behind it comfortably.
Surely it's no Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but the very fact I've mentioned that car speaks volumes about the space that's made available to you. And because its roofline stretches further to the back than a traditionally-designed sedan would, I'm left with a decent amount of headroom. Sayonara, claustrophobia.
"For reasons that I cannot explain, this CVT is the exception to the rule."
Yes, the instrument panel is more digital than ever before, and it isn't much to my liking. I think they could have done better on the tachometer graphic, but that's just me. Besides, once you get moving and you get to put the Civic through its paces, you end up having too much fun to even care about your preferences as far as the digital display goes. The engine sounds great as well. There hasn't been a decent sounding mass compact sedan of late, until this one. It has a gargling baritone quality to it.
As a general rule, I hate CVT transmissions, especially on exciting cars. It is the equivalent of drinking two cans of Red Bull and popping two Valiums afterwards. It never fails to hamper the excitement, but in this car, I don't mind at all. For reasons that I cannot explain, this CVT is the exception to the rule. It's quick and responsive. It extracts all 174 horses and pulls you from 0-100 km/h in a blistering 6.8 seconds. That's about two seconds quicker than its predecessor, and in car terms, that would be light years away.
A celebration of turbo and tech.
It has European performance car figures from a Japanese motor no bigger than the free Coca-Cola you get from Shakey's Pizza. What kind of sorcery is this? And when you're done playing around with the car, you'll start to admire its cruising abilities. You don't need to drive the wheels off the car to enjoy it.
It's such a complete and well-built car, most of its flaws will go down on preference. After that, you can settle down and tinker with things like Apple Carplay or the built-in navigation system or you can even marvel at the effectiveness of its LED lighting when the sun fades.
"It pushes the envelope even further, and how dare it call itself a compact car."
I can't stress enough how shocked I am with this car. I cannot say that this is what the Civic should have always been, because there wasn't anything particularly wrong with the previous one. Surely, it was no front-runner as the best in its class, but it did what you expected a compact sedan to do. This new one however, exceeds expectations. It pushes the envelope even further, and how dare it call itself a compact car. It should be ashamed, because it's only marginally smaller than a Honda Accord.
In fact, if I were to be gifted a choice of an Accord or a Civic, I'd take the latter. It has all the character that the Accord has lost along the way. It is charming and satisfying to drive. Once in a while, there are cars that take risks. They throw out the rulebooks, and come out guns blazing. This monumental change is usually reserved for manufacturers like Maserati or BMW, not Honda - and most certainly not the Civic. After all, they could have just made a slightly better version of the model it replaces and it would have sold like Lemonade from a stall filled with topless spring breakers.
Ultimately, in my eyes at least, the Civic is the greatest of all time in its segment. If it wasn't the best in some years, at the very least, it was always in contention. This all-new model is a leap into a different galaxy altogether. It is Steph Curry for 3. It brings real genuine fun to the segment and not just fabricated fun through the eyes of marketing and sales executives.
It may have lost its way at times in its road to reinvention, but those times always pave the way for brilliance. I have no doubt in my mind that this is the very best car that Honda makes at the moment. It is big, fast, bold, avantgarde, and an absolute hoot to drive. I've given it a 10/10, and the only reason I've done so, is because I can't give an 11.