Two months after the 11th-generation Civic made its debut in sedan form, Honda has pulled the covers off the hatchback variant. This is the first body style that has been confirmed for markets outside of the United States, with the five-door being the only available option for Japan and Europe – although the sedan will almost certainly remain the default choice for the ASEAN region.

Design-wise, the hatch builds on the more mature design of the sedan but with a few tweaks beyond the truncated rear. The front end with its slim LED headlights and aggressive triple air intakes is similar, but there’s also a larger concave grille that is exclusive to the hatch, replete with a hexagonal mesh in lieu of the sedan’s horizontal slats. The body-coloured bar above the grille is slimmer as a result.

Along the side, the longer bonnet and the distinctive chrome window strip that extends into the C-pillars have been retained. However, the strong shoulder line now leads into a rear end that is 125 mm shorter than the sedan’s, along with a full-width taillight design that integrates the third brake light. The rear windscreen has also been made larger to improve rear visibility, ditching the split design of the outgoing model.

Meanwhile, the lightweight composite hatch and the more outwards positioning of the hinges have allowed the top of the tailgate to sit 50 mm lower, creating a sleeker roofline without compromising rear headroom. Rounding off the sportier look are the large twin trapezoidal tailpipes and a black rear diffuser.

The shorter rump means that the Civic Hatchback measures 4,530 mm long (4,550 mm for US models), 1,800 mm wide and 1,815 mm tall according to figures released by Autocar Japan. This makes the new car 30 mm longer and five millimetres lower than its predecessor, although its rear overhang is actually 20 mm shorter. The wheelbase has also grown 35 mm to 2,735 mm.

Inside, the hatch shares the sedan’s new Audi-like dashboard, featuring a freestanding seven- or nine-inch infotainment touchscreen, an available 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, a hexagonal metal mesh covering for the full-width air vents and the use of more premium soft-touch materials and tactile switchgear. New available features include a power-adjustable front passenger seat, an air ioniser, Qi wireless smartphone charging and a Bose sound system with 12 speakers.

Larger rear side windows, including a new quarter light window, make for a more airy feel for passengers at the back – who also enjoy 35 mm of extra legroom. Boot space measures 452 litres, which is actually 26 litres less than before; however, the tailgate opening is now 40 mm wider to make it easier to load items in. The hatch also retains a 60:40 split-folding rear seats and the outgoing model’s novel side-pull cargo cover.

As per the sedan, the hatch is offered with the full suite of Honda Sensing driver assists, upgraded with a new Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) Level 2 semi-autonomous driving system that incorporates smoother, more natural responses from the adaptive cruise control and lane centring assist. In Japan, the Civic is also offered with an optional Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) function that blocks off certain parts of the high beam to avoid dazzling other road users – the first time Honda is using such a system.

Other new features in Japan include front and rear pedal misapplication control and low-speed autonomous emergency braking. They join the rest of the Honda Sensing suite that includes autonomous emergency braking, evasive steering assist, lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition and front departure alert.

Powertrain options vary depending on the market. In the US, the base engine is a 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated i-VTEC four-cylinder pushing out the same 158 hp at 6,500 rpm and 187 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm as before. The ubiquitous 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo mill, also offered in Japan, has been upgraded and now pushes out 180 hp at 6,000 rpm and 240 Nm from 1,700 to 4,500 rpm, an increase of six horsepower and 20 Nm.

Both engines are fitted as standard with a CVT, but this time around, only the hatch gets the option of a six-speed manual gearbox, now with increased shift rigidity, shorter throws and a smoother dual-mass flywheel for an even better row-your-own experience. Honda has also confirmed that it will introduce a new e:HEV hybrid (the only powertrain option to be made available in Europe, in line with the company’s promise to offer a fully electrified lineup) and a high-performance Type R next year.

The Civic Hatchback will go on sale in Japan in August and Autocar Japan says that the car will be built there at the Yorii plant in Saitama for local consumption. In the US, production will kick off later this year at the same Greensburg, Indiana plant that builds the sedan.



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