The previous 10th generation Honda Civic saw the return of the practical five-door hatchback layout to the Canadian market and we noticed buyers taking notice with a surprising amount of fanfare. So, when news broke that the all-new 11th generation Civic is once again offered in this form, we rejoiced and asked Honda Canada for an early sample – this is the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring, with a six-speed manual transmission for some simple row-your-own fun to boot.
Styling of the new 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback has matured nicely when compared to the outgoing model. The new Civic’s exterior design looks more European than ever, particularly in this hatchback form. Its low slung silhouette and short rear overhang design offers a sporty coupe-like profile and appears to be lower and wider when compared to last year’s model. 18-inch wheels are standard on the Sport and Sport Touring, upsized from the 16s on the LX, with a unique machined face and black insert finish on this range-topper.
The base LX gets a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine that outputs 158 horsepower, while the Sport and Sport Touring get an upgraded 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 180-horsepower and 177 lb-ft. of torque. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard while a six-speed manual is available – a true rarity these days. We would not consider the Civic Hatchback to be fast by any measure but getting going is no issue thanks to torque arriving early in the rev band, and the short-throw manual gearbox with easy clutch engagement.
One notable drawback to the six-speed transmission’s leisurely demeanor is a lack of excitement that we have come to expect from a Honda product. There is a noticeable rev-hang during shifts, which actually makes for a smoother ride if you’re patient but the downside is not being able to just bang through the gears Fast-and-Furious style. Good thing is that the Civic Hatchback’s steering is incredibly accurate and we enjoyed its responsive handling more than many entry level luxury sport sedans.
The 2022 Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is rated for 7.7L/100km in the city and 6.3L/100km on the highway, for a combined fuel consumption rating of 7.1L/100km. Our observed average was about the same as rated and it is worth noting the 1.5T powertrain is slightly more fuel efficient than the two-litre plant in the base model. Regular fuel is accepted for its 46-litre tank.
Interior is a key area of improvement for the 11th generation Civic. Not only are the design and materials a leap above its predecessors, the feature list is now comparable to some cars costing twice as much. On this top of the line model, we find ourselves pampered with heat on the leather-wrapped steering wheel as well as on all four outbound seats, listening to good quality music through the 12-speaker Bose premium sound system, while our Apple and Android smartphones were connected to the nine-inch touchscreen infotainment unit and charging – all without the need for cables.
The seats felt supportive and are above-average in terms of comfort. Head and legroom are very generous and accommodative – we reckon its passenger space can rival that of the Honda CR-V. The suspension set up is on the firm side but in no way uncomfortable and the Honda Civic Hatchback has done a good job isolating unwanted outside noise. The cargo opening is now 40mm wider, and though its 693-litre cargo volume is 30-shy of the previous generation, it remains a segment leader in that regard. For reference, the Mazda3 Sport’s cargo space is 569 litres and Toyota Corolla Hatchback’s is rated at 660.
There are plenty of driver assist technologies found standard in the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback, including auto high beam, Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Blind Spot Information systems. Choose Sport Touring trim with the CVT and Low-Speed Follow gets added to the Adaptive Cruise Control system, as well as low-speed braking control and Traffic Jam Assist.
With a starting MSRP of $28,000, the Civic Hatchback is an attractive alternative to all the compact crossovers and SUVs that have flooded the market in the past decade. There is a significant price hike to get to our as-tested sticker price of $35,300 for our Sport Touring model with the optional Sonic Grey Pearl paint, but it certainly punches above its weight in terms of features and driving engagement. Plus, there are few choices in this price range that will give you a fully loaded package with a row-your-own manual option so this makes car shopping a little easier for some.
The new 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring is good choice for a wide spectrum of car shoppers – those who are looking for a smaller car that can fit more than a traditional sedan, novice drivers honing in their skills with the help of proactive driver assistance features and a easy-to-learn manual transmission system, and somebody looking a bit of entry level luxury without breaking the bank. It carries the poise and the sophistication to make us forget the Civic we grew up in and loved, and staked claim as the best not-so-hot hatchback.
First Drive: 2022 Honda Civic Touring