The Honda Civic is an automobile manufactured by Honda. It was introduced in 1973 as a 1169 cm³ or 1238 cm³ engine-powered small hatch or two-door small sedan. With a "east–west" engine like the British Mini, and front wheel drive, the car provided good interior space despite overall small dimensions.
Early models of the Civic were typically outfitted with a basic AM radio, rudimentary heater, foam cushioned plastic trim, two speed wipers, and painted steel rims with a chromed wheel nut cap. Honda's current Civic has become somewhat more luxurious. Still, many regard the Civic as representing a good value for the money, combining good performance, reliability and economy, as well as a very low rate of depreciation, resulting in a low total cost per mile or per year.
Models and equipment
Initially the Civic was sold as either a four speed manual, or two speed "HondaMatic" model. Later models went to five speed manual and full four speed automatic gear boxes. Like the Mini, the gear box / differential was integral with the engine unit, but drive shaft technology in the Civic was well ahead of the universal joints of the Mini.
The Civic evolved through 1335 cm³ (1980) to larger capacities and more creature comforts (air conditioning, power windows, etc) through the 1990s and into the 2000s.
Beginning in 1996 , Honda produced the first iteration of Civic to receive the "Type-R" appellation (applied first to the Integra Type-R), with the EK9 chassis Civic Type-R. The EK9-generation Civic Type-R had a maximum output in the range of 180 hp (143 kW), increased over the more common 160 hp (119 kW) B16A engine in the SiR/VTi models, and included various alterations to the chassis to improve handling and reduce weight (such as better welding of the frame, and removal of the radio and noise-suppressing materials).
In 2001, Honda announced the release of the Civic Type-R for the EP chassis, a more sporty variant of the most recent model of Civic and successor to the EK9 Civic Type-R. Unlike the EK9 version, which was produced solely in Japan, the EP Civic Type-R is produced in the United Kingdom and exported to Japan. The EP Civic Type-R has a specific output of 200 PS (197 hp/147 kW) at 8000 rpm, a six-speed gearbox, a reworked exterior with bullet-like hatchback design, aeroform bumpers, spoiler, and 17 inch wheels. The interior of the Type-R includes Recaro seats and a Momo steering wheel, and the model also includes Type-R-specific badging, a helical limited-slip differential, and has been reported to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in about 6.8 seconds (6.6 in facelifted mpdel).
The hybrid version became available in 2003, which uses both a small (1.3 L) main gasoline engine and auxiliary electric motors. The electric motors are powered by a battery array which is charged by regenerative braking during deceleration, which reduces exhaust emissions and extends fuel mileage.
The new Sport Hatchback model with a futuristic styling was unveiled in August 2005 for the European market only. This model features from launch 2 petrol and 1 diesel engine, and these are the 1.339L I-DSI and 1.798L i-VTEC petrols with 86PS and 140PS respectively with 108 and 130mph top speeds and 14.2 and 8.6 sec 0-100km/h sprint. The diesel is a 2.204L I-CTDI from the Accord, F-RV and C-RV with 140PS and is capable of 129 mph and 0-60 in 8.4 seconds.
While the Civic is sold in largely the same form worldwide, differences in the name of the models exist between markets. In Japan the hatchback Civic is just called "Civic" while the sedan model is called "Civic Ferio" - however with the current release of the new Civic in Japan only in sedan form, this naming convention has stopped. In Europe and the United States "Civic" generically refers to any of the coupe, sedan or hatchback models, though in Europe the coupe is actually branded the "Civic Coupe". A five-door or station wagon model called the Civic Shuttle (also Civic Pro in Japan) was available from the early to late 1980s (this brand name would later be revived for the mid-1990s Honda Shuttle people carrier, known in some markets as the Honda Odyssey).
Other models have been built off the Civic platform, including the Ballade, the CR-X, Quint, Concerto, Domani, CR-X Del Sol, and the Integra. Also, at various times the Civic or Civic-derived models have been sold by marques other than Honda — for example, Rover sold the 200, 400 and 45, each of which were Civic-based at some point (first 200s were the 2nd generation Ballade; from 1990 the 200 and 400 were based on the Concerto; 400 was the Domani from 1995), as was their predecessor, the Triumph Acclaim, based on the first Honda Ballade. The Honda Domani, another series based on the Civic, was sold as the Isuzu Gemini in Japan (1992–2000), and confusingly the 5-door hatch Domani was sold as the Honda Civic (along with the "real" EK Civics) in Europe from around 1995-2000. In Thailand, the Civic was available as a four-door Isuzu Vertex (1995–2000). The sixth-generation station wagon was sold as the Honda Orthia (Honda Partner as the downmarket commercial variant). The seventh-generation minivan model is called the Honda Stream or the Honda Civic Stream.
The three-door-hatchback body style has been somewhat unpopular in the United States, but has achieved wide acceptance in Canada, as well as popularity in Japan and European markets. Starting in 2002, the Civic three-door hatchback has been built exclusively at Honda's manufacturing plant in Swindon, England - previously a five-door "Civic" (essentially a rebadged Domani as sold in Japan) and the "Civic Aerodeck" (probably based on the Japanese model Partner or Orthia) were built here for sale in Europe along with the Japanese EK series Civics. Accordingly, all instances of the current model (left- or right-hand-drive, anywhere in the world) are British-made cars designed with Japanese engineering, except for the US-built two-door coupé.
An interesting engine development used in all 1980 to 1983 models as well as all carbureted models through 1987 was the CVCC system, where a small auxilary inlet valve allowed a rich fuel/air mixture into the cylinder near the spark plug, while the main charge was lean. This design could meet clean air emission standards without the power robbing emission control devices fitted to many cars of that time. This engine was a rare example of commercial development of a Stratified charge engine.
Current generation Civics use variable valve timing (VTEC), and are approaching the size and weight of the early Honda Accord models, which were initially introduced as a larger, up-market alternative to the Civic in the mid 1970s.
Modifications and the enthusiast community
In many areas, the Civic is popular as a platform for modification and customization by an enthusiast community. Civics prior to the fifth and sixth generation had a high power-to-mass ratio compared to many competitors which allowed for naturally better acceleration, braking and handling given similar parts. As well, advanced four-wheel independent suspension inspired by Honda's racing research allowed class-leading handling in the 1988-1991 series which continued on until the 2000 model update. Also, because of parts interchangeability, many Civics which were originally equipped with lower-power motors can later be equipped with a newer Honda engine, turbo, or even fitted with a non-Honda engine. The City Turbo engine is a good fit to the Civic engine bay in many models, and provides a significant increase in the power-to-weight ratio compared to the non-performance motors, thus boosting performance. A hybrid version is also available that uses a combination gas-electric hybrid engine for propulsion, which reduces exhaust emissions and greatly extends fuel mileage.
Also, many fourth-, fifth- and sixth-generation Civic models can be similarly upgraded by replacing their original economy-oriented motors with a DOHC VTEC engine — commonly one of the B series motors such as a B16A, which was also original equipment in some performance models of the Civic.
With the release of the movie The Fast and the Furious (which featured various tuner cars, including the Civic), popular awareness of the Honda Civic as a tuner car increased. However, antipathy toward the Civic also arose, such that the Civic has been given the epithet of "rice" car by some (see also Rice boy regarding a stereotypical import-car enthusiast who applies modifications to his car which are considered gaudy, excessive or of poor taste).
The most recent models, while still competitive as tuner projects, have succumbed to added weight, reduced suspension technology and higher centres of gravity which has significantly reduced their appeal amongst passionate drivers. These changes made the car safer on the whole though, and helped the Civic sell better to the average consumer.
In its 2006 Civic Si concept models, however, Honda strongly indicated the Civic line will see a return to sportiness and performance. This newest generation of the Civic offers a 197 hp (150 kW) K20-powered Si.
The Civic was Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year for 1980. The Civic has been on Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list six times, in 1985, 1988 through 1991, and 1996. The Civic GX, a natural gas version of the vehicle was named Greenest Car of 2005 by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Honda claimed 5 of the top 10 Greenest car slots, 3 of which were models of the Civic.