Count me among the few, at least in my profession, who weren’t too excited about the arrival of the 11th generation Honda Civic.

As I wrote in a column in June, I didn’t find the new car so appealing. Its retreat into conservatively designed territory felt like a huge step backwards, and the manual transmission had been dropped from the sedan and the coupe had been completely destroyed.

Bottom line, that didn’t seem like much to get excited about. But as the past and current owner of Civic, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. After all, the Civic has been the best-selling car in Canada for almost a quarter of a century. What future for this iconic nameplate?

With that in mind, and despite my reservations, I couldn’t wait to drive the new Civic. Since posting the column, I’ve driven both: the sedan in August and the sedan in late November.

This first ride will be based on my fairly short time (three days) with the sedan, but I will also refer to the sedan as a means of comparison.

To reset, the 11th generation Civic is available as a sedan and hatchback. The coupe was discontinued due to sharply declining sales. Two engines are offered: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder (158 hp / 138 lb-ft) and a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder (180 hp / 177 lb-ft). Both engines drive the front wheels and are mated to a six-speed manual transmission or continuously variable transmission (CVT).

As for the models, Honda Canada only offers three for the hatchback (LX, Sport, and Sport Touring), but all can be purchased with a six-speed manual or CVT transmission. As for the engines, the 2.0-liter is only available on the LX, while the Sport and Sport Touring receive the 1.5-liter turbo. If you’re interested in a Si sedan, you’re out of luck – it’s only offered on the sedan. But for those looking for hot hatch performance, there’s good news: The Type R will be returning in 2022.

For this story, Honda Canada prepared me a Sport Touring Tester finished in Rally Red and a black leather interior, with a standard six-speed manual transmission. A CVT is available at no additional cost. The price of $ 35,000 before taxes is a bit steep, but there is a lot of standard equipment for the money.

Standard Sport Touring kit includes LED headlights, taillights and fog lights, 18-inch aluminum alloy rims, 10.25-inch digital dashboard, nine-inch infotainment touchscreen with integrated navigation, heated front and rear seats (outboard), heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bose premium audio system with 12 speakers and much more.

Stylishly, the 2022 Civic Hatch looks a lot like the sedan to these eyes. A little too much I would say. Honda designers gave the hatch a different rear end, with distinctive tail light and fairing treatments, but if one looked at these cars side-by-side from the front, they probably wouldn’t be able to fit them. to distinguish.

For most of its history, Civic body styles have had a much more distinctive appearance. For example, in the 90s I owned a sixth-generation Si coupe, and it had a very different silhouette compared to its hatchback and sedan siblings, which were also unique. Now the hatchback and sedan are mingling, but Honda has been going down this path since 2015, when the 10th generation debuted with an emphasis on “coupe” styling for both sedan and hatchback models. This decision may explain, in part, the disappearance of the coupe. Why opt for the two-door, when the four-door looks so similar and is more practical?

In any case, the Civic Hatch 2022 is dimensionally different from the outgoing 10th generation model. Its windshield pillars have been moved back almost 50 millimeters, its wheelbase is 35 mm longer and its rear track is 12 mm wider. To further distinguish it from the sedan, its rear overhang and overall length are 124mm shorter.

For me, where the Civic really shines is in the cabin. As much as I liked the interior of the outgoing car, it represents a huge leap forward. From the stunning digital displays, especially the 10.25-inch instrument cluster, to the metal honeycomb air lids that span the dashboard, and the simple and tasteful climate controls, this interface is among the best I have tested this year. It is certainly the best I have experienced in the compact class to date.

Nothing seems fancy, the presentation and the tactile sensation are there, everything is in its place and there is plenty of room for everything to coexist. Additionally, the materials are fun to interact with and carry an air of sophistication, both in terms of design and workmanship. The seats offer immediate support, a good driving position is easily found and the adjustment of the many features of the cabin is simple and straightforward. You can just get on board and drive – as it should be.

As for interior space, Honda enlarged the greenhouse to give the ’22 Civic Hatch a more spacious feel. The side windows are larger and smaller C-pillar windows have been added for better outward visibility for rear passengers. The hatch opening is also lower and wider (40mm) to facilitate loading and unloading. The maximum cargo volume is rated at 693 liters.

OK, so Honda nailed the cab, but how does the Civic Hatch ride?

Its good. Very well.

Despite its small size and peak power that sits high in the rev range (6,000 rpm), the 1.5-liter turbo packs a lot of punch under acceleration thanks to a flat torque curve that starts out. at just 1,700 rpm and peaks at 4,500 rpm with 177 lb.-ft. Tucked away in the sweet spot of the power strip, the Civic hatch is both quick out of line and in mixed traffic.

On the drivetrain side, Honda tweaked its six-speed gearbox for better stiffness and shorter trips, and a dual-mass flywheel was added to reduce driveline noise and vibration. The clutch and shifter work together seamlessly, gear changes are quick and precise, with light clutch action that comes with no surprises.

As for handling and ride quality, the Civic Hatch does well on both counts. Honda readjusted the chassis adding new low friction ball joints and front shock absorber mounting bearings for better steering feel. Other changes include new lower control arm bushings and re-tuned electronic power steering.

Honda says these changes not only produce better steering and stability in a straight line, but also reduced noise and vibration. In my experience, they deliver the goods: handling is responsive and nimble, with good steering feedback, while the ride is generally quiet and composed.

Overall, the 2022 Civic Hatch impresses. While I’m still not crazy about its exterior styling, it has more visual appeal than its sister sedan and has intriguing R-type potential. Plus, Honda really nailed the interior and driving dynamics, which , I think, are more important than the exterior visuals.

Do I still wish the Civic’s styling was less conservative? Yes. The 10th generation was a car that broke standards not only for Honda but for the segment and perhaps the industry. 2022 is not that. It’s a course correction. Time will tell if it was the right one.

The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle ratings were not subject to approval.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring

Body Style: compact sedan

Training method: Front engine, FWD / CVT, six-speed manual transmission

Motor : 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (180 hp / 177 lb-ft)

Fuel economy: (Regular 87) 7.7 / 6.3 / 7.1 L / 100km city / highway / combined

Loading volume: 693 liters (24.4 cu ft)

Price: $ 35,000 basic / as tested, excl. taxes

Website: Honda.ca

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