Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: February 7, 2022
The hatchback has always been our favourite body shape for the beloved Civic. Its fastback proportions, cavernous trunk, and functional liftgate made us prefer it over the Sedan and Coupe. There’s a reason why the Type R was only offered in hatchback form.
The five-passenger, five-door hatchback is back for the 2022 model year and if the sedan that we tested is anything to go by, then it surely won’t disappoint. The paint colour doesn’t, and is a shade they call Boost Blue, the same bold, stark, contrasting hue that was offered on the Civic Type R back in 2020.
Like the sedan, the new design is much more understated and mature than before, sporting cleaner lines and a tidier and more inoffensive shape. It’s slightly longer than the previous hatchback but it appears almost as large as the Accord from certain angles. Overall, there’s much to like here, and the same follows with the interior.
The cabin design is clean and ergonomically sound, with a new hexagonal-centered steering wheel and a honeycomb mesh that stretches the entire width of the dashboard and somewhat elevates its premium vibe. It also conveniently and neatly integrates the air vents. But it’s the dials, knobs, and the rest of the switchgear that reminds us that Honda knows how to engineer touchpoints. Everything from the click of the climate control dial to the resistance of the window switches feel expensive and sourced from the top-shelf, far from the economy-rate its price-tag suggests. In fact, these pieces wouldn’t feel out of place in a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class. And it’s the little things that help the Civic stand out, like how the heated steering wheel is heated 360-degrees around, not just at the 9- and 3-o’clock positions like in the Lexus RX or Toyota Venza.
The instrument cluster is now fully digital on Touring models, and there’s a new 7-inch and optional 9-inch center touchscreen that integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment system is nothing to write home about - it’s somewhat easy to use once you get a hang of the button locations, but I’m sure most will prefer the familiar layout of smartphone integration.
Top trims are also equipped with a 12-speaker Bose sound system, wireless phone charging, GPS navigation, and leather-trimmed seating surfaces. Honda didn’t forget about safety either, and loaded the Civic with newly designed front airbags and rear side airbags, and an updated suite of driver assistance features including a wide-angle front view camera. Of note, Honda’s unique right-side blind spot camera is gone, but in its place is a blind-spot monitoring system that can now manage both sides.
Rear seat legroom and headroom remain about the same as the sedan, which is still more than enough for my six-foot figure to find comfort in for long distance journeys. But the real reward of the hatchback is with its SUV-like trunk space. It’s no wagon but the hatchback carries nearly double the cargo volume behind the rear seats than the sedan, and it’s almost identical to the boxier Volkswagen Golf GTI. The trunk opening is not as squared off as the Golf’s, and is more domed shape, but the low floor and 60/40 folding seats make it just about perfect. Pandemic Costco runs don’t always require an SUV, you know.
All Civic Hatchback trims are available with a manual transmission option, a notable feature as the Civic Sedan and Accord do not. Case in point that Honda really gives a cahoots about their customer base, and haven’t forgot about the driving enthusiast. The three-pedal option will probably only account for what, 1% of sales? So the fact that they went through the trouble to offer, certify, and market it in this bleak automotive landscape says a lot. So bravo, Honda. Now get back into F1 please.
The Civic Hatchback is available with two engines. The base engine is available with the base LX trim, a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder dishing out 158 hp and 138 lb-ft of torque. The Sport and Sport Touring models come with a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that produces a healthier 180 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque.
The Civic we drove was the fully loaded Sport Touring model loaded with a CVT. It’s a well-mannered gearbox that isn’t as engaging as a regular torque converter automatic like in the Camry, but is actually refined, quiet, and doesn’t buzz and drone on the highway. It aided in efficiency too, and over our seven-day test drive, we actually averaged the exact same fuel economy as the sedan: 7.9 L/100km. And like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Civic only requires regular 87-octane fuel despite its engine being turbocharged.
Acceleration from the turbocharged four-cylinder is average, with a slight hint of turbo lag before it wakes up. We never had any issue getting up to speed on highway ramps thanks to a meaty mid-range, and even under wide open throttle, it emits just a moderate drone while gently humming along at cruising speeds.
The new Civic Hatchback is more rigid than before, and as a result the ride is much smoother and more cohesive. There’s slightly less wind and road noise pummeling into the cabin, and it demonstrates better stability when riding over bumps and expansion joints. The overall ride feels grounded and secure, with perhaps a pinch more firmness than a Mazda3. We noticed greater high-speed stability on highways as well likely due to the Civic’s longer wheelbase and wider rear track.
Steering feel and body control continue to be the Civic’s key attributes. With the help of a revised MacPherson front suspension featuring new joints and bearings, you can continue to whip the Civic around corners at speed and not have to worry about excessive body roll or the front end washing out. There’s plenty of joy to be had with such a communicative front end and a willing chassis, and it’s jus tnot something you will find in the Hyundai Elantra or Nissan Sentra. The Civic, no matter which engine you choose, is just a car you want to hustle around twisty streets and take advantage of its witty reflexes and composed ride. I always like to think that if Porsche were to make an affordable, economy sedan for the masses, it would drive something like this.
There are three driving modes to choose from with the little rocker switch on the center console. That being said, the Eco, Normal, and Sport modes are all quite nuanced and the differences between them are hardly felt in anything aside from the throttle pedal - it’s slightly more sensitive in Sport, but much more lethargic in Eco, as expected. We didn’t find much use for the paddle shfiters either, as the shifting algorithm was tuned well enough that we didn’t need to manually take over the rowing.
With superior cargo space and an identical ride and driving quality to the sedan, the hatchback is our pick of the Civic litter. In our eyes, it looks better too, and who doesn’t love having the option of a six-speed manual, even if they aren’t going to choose it.
Model: 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring
Paint Type: Boost Blue
Base Price: $35,000
Price as Tested: $35,300
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,529 / 1,900 / 1,415
Curb weight (kg): 1,412
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 180 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 177 lb-ft @ 1,700 - 4,500 rpm
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 7.7 / 6.3 / 7.1
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 7.9