So I went test driving cars this past weekend. One of the cars I sampled was a Honda Civic. The 2006 redesign is one slick puppy I must admit. Acceleration, handling, and responsiveness are top notch for a car in this class. Unbelievably, my tall frame can actually fit in the backseat. Plus it sips gas, an all important consideration, now more so given rising gas prices. It has an impressive list of standard features and it pretty much comes down to not which package but which trim you want—whether it be the one of the three standard trims, the eco-friendly hybrid (though the Prius is still the reigning king in this class), or the sporty Si. There are available options for customizing the trim even further, but other than fog lights, many are simply superfluous. Yet, since I’ve been considering the Mazda3, the MazdaSpeed3 and the Subaru WRX, I found it rather odd that a 5-door Civic was lacking in Honda’s line-up. I certainly recall a 5-door being available in past iterations. It’s not that Honda doesn’t make them, it’s that they don’t sell them to North America. WTF, Honda?!
So through research I managed find out that Honda Civic 3-doors and 5-doors are sold in Europe and other select markets. It seems to have been designed and manufactured specifically for the continent. What the Honda designers failed to realize is that something that is universally practical is also universally appealing. Some car owners, yes even those in America, would prefer more storage space that a 5-door has over a 4-door without having to upgrade to a larger vehicle. Then get this. The Civic 4-door has a 40/60 split rear seat as an option. For the 5-door it’s standard and what’s even cooler about the ones in the 5-door is that not only do they fold flat, but they also fold up! Brilliant! The problem with 40/60 split seats in sedans is you have to deal with that annoying hole between the trunk space and rear space that’s never quite big enough for your bulky long items. It’s been a pet peave of mine with the Honda Accord and Mitsubishi Mirage I’ve owned and it’s why I’ve been researching hatchbacks.
Besides oozing practicality the European Civic is downright sporty-looking in it’s base class, not just the Type R and Type S trims. Granted I like the lines on the US Civic, it just doesn’t appeal to me as much as the European model. I guess Honda USA wanted to protect their investment in the Fit. I mean who’d want that if they got to test drive a Civic 5-door.
Yet I suppose fair is fair. The Civic 4-door sedan isn’t available in most European markets except in the hybrid trim. I guess Honda doesn’t want to take on the Mazda3 5-door, the current king in its class.