The Honda Civic – A legend, a time capsule on wheels

Honda Motors is a celebrated name in the global auto industry as a premium car major, but in the early years it was not even much of a car manufacturer. The Japanese company was primarily an efficient motorcycle maker and its tiny, less powerful cars were residing somewhere in oblivion. The company’s fortune took a turn towards the now eminent car making proficiency, when Honda first launched the Civic back in 1973. Ever since, the Civic has been one of the primary breadwinners for this Japanese auto giant. Now, over 4 decades old, the Honda Civic has been more than a prodigy for the company, and it can be termed as a time capsule which has been carrying forward the company’s success in the world.

First Civic models: 1973 to 1979

Honda Motors made a remarkable impression on the auto industry by introducing the Civic that first debuted in 1973. The Civic provided astonishing space and efficiency in a fun to drive small car that could run at a speed of over 40mpg on highways. The car offered enough space and comfort for four adult passengers, and this was a great ability for a tiny, compact car with minuscule dimensions; with a length of 139.8 inches and a miniature wheelbase of 86.6 inches.

Honda Civic 1973 edition

Honda Civic 1973 edition

The entire arrangement of this new small car was also a marvel for the American car market at that time. The Honda Civic’s compact engine was diagonally mounted and it had a front wheel drive system. The car’s 12 inch wheel size enabled it to offer most of the interior space for the utilization of the occupants. Honda highlighted this fact of the Civic, and its early ads showcased how the car boasts of providing more passenger room compared against many of its larger market rivals.

Since the beginning of the Civic’s journey in the world’s car industry, two body variants were offered for sale by Honda, namely a hatchback and a more spacious sedan. Both the Civic versions were identical, even at the back side, except for the fact that the sedan model had a petite vertical panel that opened up to offer more luggage space than that of its hatchback counterpart.

The early Civic models had some styling obscurities. The turn signal lights of the car looked as if they were extra additions and fixed abruptly after the car was fully built, it also had a weird looking bulging divider in the middle of the front grille. It included standard features of vinyl seats, power front disc brakes, reclining bucket seats and sophisticated wooden dashboard trim. The hatchback also had a smart foldable rear seat, radio and fabric upholstery. Very few options were provided including air conditioner, a rear wiper and automatic transmission for the hatchback model.

The first Civic was powered by an inline 4-cylinder engine that churned out 50hp of power, which was pretty impressive to drive the lightweight compact Civic. The engine was mated to the transmission options of a 4-speed manual and a 2-speed automatic gearbox called the “Hondamatic”.

Back then, the Civic had a really affordable starting price and Honda made it clear that this car was meant to be economical and practical with loads of space for its small size and price.

For the year 1974, the Civic was endowed with a slightly bigger engine with 1,237cc displacement and a bit power boost to 52hp. The Civic’s bumpers’ size grew as well and its overall length stood to 146.9 inches.

Honda Civic 1975 edition

Honda Civic 1975 edition

Honda introduced the Controlled Vortex Combustion Chamber or CVCC engine in 1975. This new CVCC engine was offered as an additional option alongside the standard motor, and offered 53hp of power along with cleaner, more proficient combustion. This engine seamlessly adhered to the new emissions standards in the U.S and the mandatory usage of unleaded fuel. In fact, as California had stringent emissions standards, only the Civic CVCC variant could run in that market. A 5-speed manual transmission gearbox also came into existence then, while the Civic wagon variant with the CVCC engine also made its appearance. This was a significantly bigger, new member in the Civic family which was 160 inches long and had a wheelbase of 89.9 inches.

In 1978, Honda gave a minor cosmetic update to the Civic which consisted of a black front grille, rear faced hood vents and new turn signal lights that looked much more in sync with the rest of the car. The CVCC mill’s power figure was also boosted to 60hp.

The year 1979, saw the Civic’s standard engine to increase its power to 55hp, while the CVCC engine’s power went up to 63hp, other than this everything else remained almost the same.

The evolved, smarter looking Civic: 1980-1983

The Honda Civic attained a new, more stylish, sleeker physic along with considerably increased dimensions in the year 1980. The car’s wheelbase was increased to 88.6 inches for the hatchback model and to 91.3 inches for the wagon variant. The two-door sedan was given a burial, as was given to the standard engine. The CVCC engine became the new standard engine for all Civic variants. The motor came in two displacements, namely 1,335cc which delivered 55hp of power, and 1,488cc that produced 67hp. The engines were mated to a range of three transmissions: a 4-speed manual, a 5-speed manual and a two-speed automatic transmission gearbox.

Honda Civic 1980-1982 Edition

The Civic variants offered a longer feature list comprising of rear window defogger, a cigar lighter and intermittent wipers. The higher variant also came with radial tires, a rear windshield wiper and washer, tachometer, a clock and side moldings. The Civic wagon version was offered in a single model trim that was equivalent to the higher DX trim model of the hatchback version.

In the year 1981, Honda resurrected the sedan version of the Civic, but in a four-door avatar. A new 3-speed automatic transmission gearbox also replaced the old two-speed AT gearbox.

Year 1982 saw the Civic getting a little peppier with a model refresh. It featured new rectangular shaped headlamps and contrasting black bumpers. A new gasoline model was also introduced with the five-speed manual gearbox. It offered remarkable fuel efficiency of 41 mpg in the city roads, while returning a massive 55 mpg on the highways.

The more aggressive looking new Civic “S” variant replaced the older 1500 GL top variant of the Civic in 1983. This also packed in stiffer suspension with a rear stabilizer and new Michelin tires. A new S variant flaunted a red accent to mark it apart from the rest of the variants.

The more efficient Civic: 1984-1987

The newer Honda Civic grew up even further in 1984. In terms of size, comfort and design, the Civic became a lot more matured and sophisticated. It received an increased wheelbase of 96.5 inches that made the Civic’s four-door sedan and the wagon models identical to the dimension of the Honda Accord. It also packed in a new 1.5 liter mill with 12 valves generated 76hp of max power, excepting the base model of the hatchback that was driven by a new 1.3 liter motor delivering 60hp of power. The new engines were mated to the same transmission options of a 4 and 5-speed manual gearboxes and a 3-speed automatic gearbox. The vehicle’s suspension got a further tweaking that made it more refined and offered enhanced ride and handling.

The Civic range now consisted of 3 hatchback variants of a base, DX and S variants, a four-door sedan, a tallboy wagon and a new two-seater CRX variant. The base model was pretty smart, while the DX variant added the charms of body side moldings, rear window defogger, wiper & washer, a tilt adjustable steering wheel and Honda’s smart split/foldable rear seats. The S variant came with all bells and whistles of sport seats, reclining rear seating arrangement and some added trims. The sedan and wagon versions of the Civic got the same equipments as that of the DX variant of the hatchback.

On the other hand, the new Honda Civic CRX was essentially the same vehicle under a sportier skin. The CRX was offered with two model trims of a base model and the 1.5. The primary difference between these two trims was that the base model of CRX was powered by a 1.3 liter mill offering outstanding fuel efficiency 51mpg in city and 67mpg on highway, while the CRX 1.5 variant was driven by the more powerful 1.5 liter engine. All CRX models flaunted an attractive two-tone color scheme with silver lower body side and bumper accents.

A stylish and neatly designed no-nonsense Civic range with high quality materials and efficient performance was an instant success in 1984.

The super sporty Civic CRX Si was introduced in 1985, which packed in a more proficient fuel-injected 1.5 liter engine that offered a good 91hp of power. The quick responsive and fast Si boasted of refined handling as well. It had additional features of large 14 inch alloy wheels along with high-performance tires, sport seats and an electrically operated sunroof as standard.

Honda Civic 1985 hatchback edition

Honda Civic 1985 hatchback edition

The CRX HF (High Fuel efficiency) model took the place of the base CRX. It packed the 1.5 liter engine that offered only 58hp but offered higher torque figures and better acceleration. The HF offered 52mpg in city and 57mpg on highways.

Honda Civic 1985 sedan edition

Honda Civic 1985 sedan edition

The other models in the Civic range remained the same for the year. However, the wagon Civic later was offered for sale with an all 4 wheel drive system and a new 6-speed manual gearbox. The Civic made its reputation for high quality, intelligent engineering and persistent reliability grow constantly and with it Honda Motor’s popularity expanded as well.

Honda Civic 1985 wagon edition

Honda Civic 1985 wagon edition

For the year 1986, the Honda Civic got new Flush mounted headlights to mark it apart from the previous year models. The refresh for this year Civic range included a more efficient 4-speed automatic gearbox and a sporty Si variant for the Civic hatchback version. This Si hatchback was aimed at those car buyers who loved the sportiness and performance factors of the CRX Si but wanted better space and comfort of a 4-seater hatchback. The new Civic Si hatchback also threw in a few extras including a removable glass panorama sunroof, a large full width panel for the taillights and a color coordinated front air dams and roof spoiler. The CRX variants on the other hand, received the same updates as the rest of the Civic range.

Honda Civic CRX Si 1986 Edition

Honda Civic CRX Si 1986 Edition

Honda revised the all 4 wheel drive system for the Civic wagon in the year 1987. This new Real Time 4WD could channel power to the wheels automatically when the drive condition required it, and thus offered smoother, hassle-free and enhanced drive experience.

The further contemporary Civic: 1988-1991

This new generation model of the Honda Civic became all the more contemporary and adorned a more sleeker and attractive body design along with more powerful powertrain in the year 1988. This time, the Civic range grew bigger once again. All the Civic models got a wheelbase that became a remarkable 98.4 inch long, excepting the CRX models which also got an increased wheelbase of 90.6 inches.

The new-gen model became leaner and meaner looking with wider windshield, lower height. The sleeker styling also facilitated lower wind drag and offered functional advantages for the car. Honda also endowed a range of new powertrains to make this new stylish model complete. A new 1.5 liter 16-valve engine with the capability of churning out 92hp provided power for the DX variants of the Civic hatchback and sedan versions, the new LX sedan as well as the wagon models. The same 1.5 liter engines less powerful version delivering 70hp powered the Civic base hatchback variant. The fuel efficiency winner CRX HF came with a 1.5 liter eight-valve engine offering 62hp of power and 56mpg. The standard CRX model offered 92hp. The high performance CRX Si and Civic 4WD wagon were powered with a large 1.6 liter 16-valve engine that delivered a max power of impressive 105hp. The entire Honda Civic range was now powered by the more refined and powerful fuel injected engines.

Honda also implemented the double wishbone suspension for all 4 wheels of the vehicle taking inspiration from the Formula One race cars. This resulted in great agility in handling and enhanced comfortable drive experience.

The Civic hatchback Si was discontinued, as the new Civic sedan LX was introduced. The LX sedan came loaded with superb features including power windows, central lock and power folding exterior mirrors. Intermittent wipers and a tachometer also made way into this model.

In year 1989, the Civic Si hatchback came back along with a power panoramic moon roof and the same powerful engine with an increased power figure of 108hp.

Year 1990 witnessed the Honda Civic arrive with redesigned bumpers and new taillights. The hatchbacks Civic variants received bigger reverse lights in white, while the sedan variants got a new horizontal taillight layout. A new EX sedan variant also got introduced in the Civic range and topped the sedan lineup. The EX features the engine from the Si variant, 14 inch alloy wheels and all the present day features of the LX variant except the cruise control. Four-wheel disc brakes and restyled dashboard made way to the CRX models.

Honda Civic 1990 edition

Honda Civic 1990 edition

In year 1991, all the Civics remained same and this year marked the end of the sporty CRX.

The more matured and powerful Civic: 1992-1995

In this time period the Honda Civic went on to become even more contemporary, sleeker and more stylish in keeping with its growing popularity. By now, Honda had become a commendable name in the global auto industry and its very important iconic Civic had to be a representative of its maker’s growing success. Thus, the vehicle became even sleeker with a wedge shaped designed and even more expanded dimensions with a wheelbases measuring 101.3 inches for the hatchback and 103.2 inches for the sedan variant. Year 1992 saw the discontinuation of the wagon version.

Honda Civic 1992 edition

Honda Civic 1992 edition

The Civic hatchback comprised of the model trims of CX, DX, VX and Si. The base CX was powered by a 1.5 liter engine generating 70hp; in the DX the same engine generated 102hp; the VX was powered by the 1.5 liter VTEC-E delivering 92hp while providing more fuel economy; and the Si got the same engine with VTEC offering an impressive 125hp. The VX was also fitted with lightweight alloy wheels and offered mileage of 48 in city and 55 on highway despite being a bigger 5-seater vehicle. The Civic’s sedan version came with unchanged trim levels, namely, DX, LX and EX. The first two trims came powered by a 1.5 liter engine generating 102hp, while the high-end trim EX packed in the Si hatchback’s potent engine delivering 125hp. A 5-speed manual gearbox was standard for all Civics, while a 4-speed automatic gearbox choice was there for the DX hatchback and all trims of the sedan version.

Honda also increased the safety level on the Civic by providing a driver’s airbag as a standard feature on all models and ABS on the EX sedan variant.

In year 1993 a two-door notchback coupe was introduced that shared the sedan version’s 103.2-inch wheelbase and came in the DX and EX trim models. The DX had the same equipments as the DX hatchback trim, and the EX packed in the features as the EX model of the sedan version including the electrically operated moon-roof. The EX coupe was also available with an optional package that also added a passenger airbag and audio unit. The EX sedan added some more equipments to its already great features list including air-con and the powerful sound system.

Honda Civic 1992 Two Door Edition

Honda Civic 1992 Two Door Edition

Honda also debuted the del Sol to fill up the vacant place of the CRX. With a smaller wheelbase than the Civic hatchback, the del Sol came with a removable top and a comfy two-seat cabin. It was driven by the engine choices of 1.5 liter offering 102hp or the 1.6 engine delivering 125hp its S and Si model trims.

In year 1994 saw the Civic models get updated safety features. Dual front airbags came as standard on all Civic variants, and antilock brakes were offered as optional on the Si hatchback, EX coupe and LX sedan. A new LX sedan variant bridged the gap between the basic DX and feature-rich EX trims. Power windows, central locks, power external mirrors, tachometer, stereo with cassette player, cruise control and 14-inch alloy wheels came as standard on the LX trim.

A new VTEC variant of the del Sol model was also introduced that referred its powerful 1.6 liter engine that offered an awesome 160hp. This del Sol variant also offered bigger brakes, stiffer suspension and high performance wheels. It offered the earlier feature list with an added passenger side front airbag.

The close-to-present sleek Civic: 1996-1999

An overhauled Honda Civic lineup came in the year 1996. The new design flaunted larger headlight clusters and tail lights, a chrome-accented grille for the sedan version and a bold character line that ran along the length. All the Civic models grew again, this time by 2 to 4 inches depending on the model type.

Honda Civic 1996 edition

Honda Civic 1996 edition

The Civic sedan variants remained same as before, i.e. DX, LX and EX trims. A new HX trim joined the DX and EX trim levels for the coupe. The HX coupe offered high mileage figures and good power figures. The revised 1.6 liter VTEC-E engine offered 115hp for the HX coupe with a mileage of 39mpg in city and 45mpg on highways. The HX later also got an automatic CVT transmission that claimed flawless performance and a fuel economical manual transmission option. The hatchback range offered only two trims of CX and DX. A new 1.6 liter engine generating 106hp with lower emissions powered all the trim levels of CX, DX and LX, while a more powerful 127hp generating VTEC engine drove the EX variant.

The design overhaul did not make way to the del Sol model, but received a mildly refreshed front face. The vehicle received an array of tweaks to keep it sporty. The base S trim received a new 1.6 liter engine making 106hp, while the Si variant got the stiffer suspension of the VTEC engine.

A year later, all the Civic models were riding on 14-inch wheels. Added features included of the DX getting full wheel covers and the sedan LX got an air conditioning system. On the other hand, the EX coupe with manual transmission was stripped off the optional antilock brakes. The del Sol model received no changes as it was its last year of existence.

A Civic range got a mild refresh in 1999 with restyled front fascia, redesigned tail lights and updated climate control system. A more value for money package of the sedan DX variant was introduced by Honda that offered the most wanted and practical features of keyless entry, air conditioning, power door locks, CD player, automatic transmission and of course a reasonable pricing.

The same year, later witnessed the return of the Civic Si in the coupe form for the sporty car enthusiasts. It packed in a potent 1.6-liter VTEC engine that generated 160hp, stiffer suspension, larger 15-inch alloy wheels with high performance wheels and 4-wheel disc brakes, while packing in the great feature list of the high-end EX variant. The Si further boasted of a front spoiler, trendy body graphics and side sills to mark it apart from the rest of the lineup.

The Civic continues its modern journey: 2000–2005

The new generation Civic lineup was introduced towards late 2000. The design revamp this time did not increase the exterior dimensions of the vehicle, but the interior space was enhanced by flattening the rear floor. Honda also upgraded the front suspension from the double wishbone system to a MacPherson strut. This allowed cost savings for Honda and also provided more engine room for Honda’s newly introduced K-series engine. Honda pumped up the power figures on some trim models. The main trim levels namely the DX, LX, EX, and HX continued. The Civic Coupe was discontinued in Honda’s home market this year.

Honda Civic 2000 edition

Honda Civic 2000 edition

The coupe and sedan versions of the Civic continued for the global market, while Honda also offered a three as well as a five-door hatchback models. The Type-R received an overhaul and also packed in the more powerful i-VTEC engine and used the three-door version of the hatchback avatar.

This time period, when the Honda Civic was in its seventh generation model, was marked by the introduction of the Civic Hybrid. The Civic hybrid which was powered by a 1.3 liter frugal engine was Honda’s response to its Japanese rival Toyota’s Prius which being the pioneer in the hybrid market went ahead with astral popularity.

The Civic evolves further, receives different platforms: 2006–2011

Honda again brought in the new generation Civic lineup in the year 2006. This time around, the Civic range which has been so far using the same platform for all body styles got two different platforms; one for the sedan and the coupe versions, and the other for the hatchback version. The Civic hatch also utilized a less complex rear suspension from the Honda Fit hatchback and featured bolder styling.

Honda Civic 2006 edition

Honda Civic 2006 edition

The hatchback Civic was still offered in a three and five-door versions. The Si and Type-R versions continued to charm the auto enthusiasts and shared the same engine with different mechanical specifications. The Civic Si became even sportier and featured several cosmetic changes. It also got suspension tweaks, new wheels, enhanced exterior styling elements, and a new exhaust system. Honda also marked the end of the Civic Type-R variant in its home market at the end of this generation model, and the Type-R variant has still not returned to Japan till date.

Honda Civic: 2011 to 2015

Honda unveiled the current or the 9th generation model of the Civic in January 2011 at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. The Japanese car major described the concept model as a contemporary, energetic, sleek and aerodynamic vehicle. Honda displayed the concept models of both the coupe and sedan versions at the auto event.

The production version model of the current generation Civic hit the U.S. market for sale in April, 2011.

This generation model first got Honda’s new Eco Assist technology. This technology is essentially an information system that helps the driver to assume an enhanced fuel efficient driving approach. The Eco Assist technology is proven to enhance fuel economy by around 10 percent for the hybrid version.

Honda Civic 2011 edition

Honda Civic 2011 edition

All Civic models now pack in the standard safety features of Anti-Lock Brake Systems, Vehicle Stability Assistance and Electronic Brake Distribution. Honda also lowered the noise and vibration levels on the Civic for enhanced drive experience.

The ongoing 2014 Civic range comes with improved visual appeal and enhanced interior space. Honda has endowed a lot of significant changes for the current year model. The Coupe version gets redesigned front and rear styling, while all the Civic models get mildly upgraded cabins. All the models excepting the gasoline and hybrid versions also get bit more powerful engines, while the 5-speed automatic gearbox is replaced by a smoother CVT transmission. The LX coupe and the Si variants get stiffer suspension, while the hybrid offers slightly enhanced fuel efficiency.

Honda has also introduced some new premium features in the current model including pushbutton start, improved smartphone integration, a larger infotainment display and a great blind spot camera.

Honda Civic Civic: 2015 to 2018

Honda is expected to offer a refreshed Civic range by the end of this year that will be offered in the same current sedan and coupe body styles. The 2015 Civic is expected to pack in more features and further improved drive dynamics. Larger wheels, advanced air-con, tilt and telescoping power steering wheel, a one-piece fold-flat rear seatback, larger display screen, Bluetooth and noise connectivity, cruise control, a rearview digital camera and a new audio system with iPod/USB are supposed to be packed in the upcoming new Civic.

honda civic 2016 edition

honda civic 2016 edition

The next generation model of the Honda Civic will be released sometime in the year 2016. The next-gen Civic is expected to attain an all new much sportier and racy design language. As Honda has already revealed the design sketches for the upcoming Type-R concept, the global audience is eagerly waiting for the new car. The next-gen Civic is expected to be a fantastic looking, high performance machine that is meant to sizzle the roads. Armed with mindboggling design and unbelievable power, a super car based on the next-gen Civic is also expected to hit the U.S market later that year.

The Civic is and will remain one of the primary breadwinners for Honda, and the company will definitely do everything possible to make it a superb attention grabber going forward. Thus, the Honda Civic will carry forward the company flag well into the future.

The Current generation: Honda Civic 2018 to current

Yes, the Honda Civic is back in the Indian market. In its 10th generation, the Civic is undoubtedly larger and sportier-looking than the earlier one. And this time around, it gets both petrol and diesel engines.

Honda-New-Civic-2019 edition

Honda-New-Civic-2019 edition

The question is, though, will Honda’s new Civic give its competitors, the Skoda Octavia, Toyota Corolla Altis and the Hyundai Elantra sleepless nights? Well, to answer that question, we list out four things that work for the Civic, and two that don’t.

SOURCES

TheTruthAboutCars.com
Netcarshow.com
Caranddriver.com
Carsguide.com
MSN
KBB
About.com
TheCarConnection.com
Topgear
USA Today