If you’re looking for a Honda and want to do some research, it might be best to stay off the forums for a while as the tumultuous typhoon of emotion for the cleverly engineered and assembled Civic floods the Internet. People seem torn on the 10th generation Civic, and while traditional purists decry the vehicle’s shape and larger proportions, progressive enthusiasts are embracing its wild LED lighting, clever cockpit, and sporty suspension.
Regardless of what the forums are hooting and hollering about online, the fact is that the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback snagged the 2016 North American Car of the Year award and is cleaning up elsewhere too. Shouldering this honor and moving forward with strong Euro-inspired styling cues, the hatchback version plans to offer buyers the five-door versatility and infuse it with direct-injected turbo technology. This means that for as pedestrian as the 1.5-liter turbo motor may seem to adrenaline junkies, what you see here today will indeed be the platform from which the USDM version of the mighty Civic Type-R shall springboard from in 2017.
“The Civic Hatch has been a staple for Honda in Europe, but has long been the forbidden fruit for Honda fans in the U.S.,” says Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda Division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Now, we’re bringing this sporty, stylish, and versatile Civic Hatchback to North America, as we amp up the performance of our incredible Civic lineup with each new Civic model.”
Nevertheless, this still means that the nuts and bolts of the matter involve the hatch being based off both sedan and coupe platforms, with LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Sport Touring trims being available. While an Si model is still M.I.A., Honda claims that every single Civic Hatchback will come with the aforementioned 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which makes 174 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque in LX, EX, and EX-L trims. Opting for either a Sport model or a Sport Touring version will give drivers a little more oomph though, with 180 horsepower and the same amount of torque issuing forth from a less constricting center-mount exhaust.
The automaker says that while all trims can be had with a CVT transmission, a performance-oriented manual gearbox for LX, Sport, and EX trims can be opted for. The Japanese company is also expecting an EPA efficiency ratings of 31 city, 40 highway, and 34 combined for its CVT-equipped versions, placing it right at the top of its class.
The Civic hatch is also supposedly going to be more rigid and lightweight than before, and features things like a fully independent suspension system with liquid filled bushings. Sport-tuned electronic power steering with variable gear ratios help turn-in times, and once added, these perks will compliment stronger disc brakes, an Electronic Brake Distribution system, and Hill Start Assist.
Interior-wise, buyers can expect many of the same futuristic, spacious, and high quality cabin materials that made the Civic lineup such a smash hit with critics last year. This means that it will offer buyers what Honda claims to be “class-leading volume and cargo capacity,” boasting 122.9 cubic feet of cabin space, along with 36 inches of best-in-class rear seat legroom, and the largest cargo carrying capacity in the current competitive set.
As far as safety goes, the entire Honda Sensing suite will be available on most trims and will come standard on Sport Touring models. Things like Collision Mitigation Braking Systems and Forward Collision Warnings piggyback on one another, while integrated Lane Keeping Assist works in harmony with Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Departure Warnings, and Adaptive Cruise Control all make Honda’s of today damn near self-driving. In our experience, the H-badge still reigns supreme when it comes time to retract one’s hands and feet and let the car drive itself.
Other available features buyers can opt for are the Honda Display Audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (on the EX and anything above it), heated front seats and side mirrors, power driver and passenger seats, a remote engine start, and all kinds of cool interior amenities. By selecting the Sport Touring line, buyers can automatically upgrade to the Honda Sensing suite, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and LED headlights. Unfortunately, things like heated rear seats and other niceties do not come as standard equipment, and have to be added during signing for an additional fee.
Targeting top safety ratings, both in regard to an NCAP five-star Overall Vehicle Score and an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK ranking, Honda claims it is looking for the hatch to land a “GOOD” rating during all crash test modes, and a “SUPERIOR” rating in frontal crash prevention when equipped with Honda Sensing. Developed jointly by R&D teams in Europe and Japan, the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback will be manufactured exclusively by Honda of the UK Manufacturing in its Swindon, UK plan, and will serve as a segue between the solid Civic Sedan and the ostentatious Type-R. At least until the Si arrives.