The Honda Civic is now available in coupe, sedan, and hatchback models. The hatchback comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 174 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque paired to a 6-speed manual transmission. Those numbers might not have it qualifying as a hot hatchback, but the manual transmission says otherwise. So which is it? Is this a sporty hatchback for driving enthusiasts, or is the Civic hatchback an altogether different animal?
The phrase “hot hatchback” conjures images of guys ripping down the street in loud, fast little cars with unnecessary aftermarket products like underbody lights and overly large spoilers. They’re fun cars with lots of power. Then there are hatchbacks that are more about practicality than fun. These cars aim to make it easier to haul cargo and aren’t so focused on a spirited sprint down the highway. The Civic Hatchback aims to be a little of both.
It looks fantastic with a low body and plenty of angles for an aggressive first impression. The Sport model tested included fog lights, an underbody spoiler kit, and a dual center exhaust as standard features. It looks every bit the hot hatch.
Inside, the Civic Hatchback Sport isn’t fancy. The fabric seats are manually adjustable, but the steering wheel and shift knob are wrapped in leather and the foot pedals are textured aluminum. There’s a cavernous center console with room for the largest beverage you can buy at the local convenience store and there’s a 12-volt power outlet.
Infotainment options are limited with a 5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, and Pandora, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto until you get to higher trim levels. The minimalist interior with just a few sporty touches works for the hot hatch vibe.
The engine provides plenty of power for the Civic and the 6-speed manual lets you use that to your best advantage. A rocket the Civic is not, but that’s also what made it so good. The problem with many hot hatchbacks is they’re great if you just want to hit the gas and get mashed back in your seat all day, but awful the rest of the time. The Civic hasn’t forgotten that you may just need to get to work or pick up some friends. We don’t live in a scene out of The Fast and the Furious.
The manual transmission is the key to the whole deal, letting you decide whether you want the engine to work to its limits or prefer a leisurely cruise. It’s one of the smoothest 6-speed manuals we’ve driven in recent memory with an easy clutch that isn’t tiresome in heavy traffic.
Base price on the 2017 Civic Hatchback Sport is $21,300 with fuel economy of 30 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are downright impressive, but premium fuel is recommended, which will take a bite out of your wallet.
The Civic Hatchback combines fuel economy and affordability with a drive that balances hot hatch fun with practicality. It lets you enjoy a taste of the hot hatchback life in a car that still works beautifully as a daily driver.