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.

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