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Why Honda won’t offer the 2015 Civic Hatchback to North America

Looking to Europe and Asian markets, hatchbacks are all the rage. While Honda offers the much coveted Civic 3 and 5 door ‘ over there,’ you won’t find a 2014 Civic Hatchback in North America. We believe that North America wants one.

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If you've ever driven down the wrong side of the road in England or Ireland as we have, you know that “ big” has a much different definition in the land of the “ Ire.”

You won’t find full size SUVs and massive motor-homes blasting down a narrow 2-lane in Ireland.

The reason is simple, with the exception of full-sized delivery van, dump truck, tour bus or city transportation, the normal mode of transportation for the majority is a small or ( rarely) midsize coupe or sedan. Yes, you will see a handful of small mostly Japanese or Korean SUVs there. We drove a Rondo for 10 days and love it.

The same is true for most of Japan and Asia. Streets are small and the roads are crowded. The 3 and 5 day hatchback provides the utility of a minivan, or crossover while offering greater maneuverability and a measurable difference in fuel economy. With fuel prices approaching and sometimes exceeding 1.5 Euro per liter, the sales leader in Europe and Asia is generally the maker that can provide reasonable performance and utility tied to outstanding fuel economy.

The Honda Civic 5 door was awarded 2009 Ireland’s “Car of the year.” And as reported last week by Torque News, Honda will re-introduce the Civic Type-R hatch to Japan and European markets mid-year 2014.

*The U.S. and Canada hasn’t seen a new Civic hatchback offering since 2005.

We haven't seen a “Real Time”( all-wheel) Civic since 1987 and find that sector of the market awarded to Subaru without contest. The Honda fans are less than happy with this gaping void in Honda’s North America offering.

We’ve cruised the Civic Owners forums and find adventurous( young) last century Honda hatch owners pumping up the loud pedal a bit (700hp,) while converting these last century hatchbacks to all wheel drive. What they want is a Civic with the road sticking capability of a Subaru; without buying a Subaru.

While this may be an extreme example of ‘want and wanton,’ it does lead to the question: Why has Honda abandoned the “economy” car all wheel drive hatchback configuration in North America? In speaking with Revlimiter’s Jacob McCants of Eureka Ca., in his opinion( owns a modified WRX,) you can’t compare a FWD vehicle to an all or 4 wheel drive car. They’re not the same animal.

While Jake can appreciate the Civic Si, it simply doesn’t handle as well as his WRX.

To answer this question, we look to the 2014 CR-Z, Fit and very soon to arrive Vezel.

As reported earlier here, Honda intends to shoehorn the 2015 “Fit” into Honda’s entry level category while continuing to Up-size and accessorize the Civic line.

When we look to the 2014 Civic, we find a coupe and sedan quickly approaching the (size) realm of the Accord. Although, when you put the cars side-by-side in a direct comparison, the 2014 Accord is much larger and offers a V6 as well as a Hybrid model.

You won’t find a V6 in the Civic line and certainly while more than adequate, the Civic does not offer the ride comfort that the midsize Accord does.

But, when we step back a generation or so in the development of the Civic, we find the car to be super- sized in direct comparison to its ancestors. So, in North America while you won’t find an all wheel drive or hatchback offering in a Civic configuration, you will find the soon to be released made in Mexico Honda Vezel crossover. Think of the Vezel as a ¾ size CR-V. Yes, its also grown a bit in ‘girth’ competition with the metrics,Hyundai and Kia as the North American market pushed pushed for a larger entry-level SUV.

According American Honda Motor Co., the Vezel will combine the utility of an all wheel drive crossover with the driving manners of a 3 door sports coupe. Yes it does have a hatch. However, much like the CR-Z and the Mazda 3, it doesn't seat 5 adults. But it does offer decent performance, high fuel efficiency and a cutting edge futuristic design. In short, it looks great.

looking to model year 2015, Subaru will be alone in its niche for another year or so as Honda measures the North American market. Don’t expect the Civic Type-R to appear in a North America showroom anytime soon.

* Thank you Joe.

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Joe Zeisel (not verified)    February 20, 2014 - 7:53PM

Honda has actually sold the hatchback in the U.S. for two generations after 1995. The 2001-2005 civic si was only available in a hatchback in America. I think you need to do a little bit more research and not talk to subaru WRX owners regarding honda civics. As far as a subaru and honda civic being different animals, it is absolutely true. But the subaru wrx will never hold a candle to the popularity of the honda civic in the 90's and the early 2000's, it will never be as light nor affordable or easy to modify.

I think something a lot of people don't realize about the post 2000 automobiles is that safety standards have changed small automobiles into no longer being small. In 1992 you could purchase a 2000 pound honda civic and get 52 miles per gallon on the highway, no hybrid, no electric, just a 1.5 liter gas engine. New honda civics weigh 50 percent more, and although they produce more horsepower in stock form, they aren't as easy to make as nimble and quick as the older models. It is just like the musclecars from the sixties.

Parks McCants    February 20, 2014 - 11:07PM

In reply to by Joe Zeisel (not verified)

Good evening Joe. I agree with you 100%. Jacob's comment as to the Civic, Subaru comparison is in direct relationship to Subaru's all wheel drive system. I, like you, actually miss the simplicity of last -century automotive electronic, engineering and body design. Yes: E.P.A. safety and emission standards has impacted the size and weight of automobiles; while not necessarily leading to higher gas economy. But, it would be hard to argue the safety advantage of airbags, crumple zones and safety cages. I bought my first Honda product back in 78" you're preaching to the choir. Thanks for the clarification as to the 01-05 Civic Si. I'm personally looking for a 2 door Civic hatch for a spring build.
project. What year and model do you recommend? Send me to a link if you have one. You own a performance hatch? I'd like to see it. Thanks for dropping in.

Justin (not verified)    October 12, 2015 - 4:21PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

I was just talking as one Civic enthusiast to another.
I drove a 1999 Civic SI and a 2000 SI, and then switched to 97 Integra type R. The type R being funniest car I have driven.

Tested a 2004 Civic SI and clearly a different driving experience but it was boring to drive compared to the SI/R.

Ending up going with a 2004 VW R32, then 2008 VW R32. Those cares are fun to drive.

I'm looking at the 2016 Civic to see if Honda has regained its soul.
Then again maybe its just my nostalgia talking.

Joe (not verified)    October 9, 2014 - 11:54PM

I hope they keep hatchbacks away from North America, I'm in my 20's and if they make the si into a hatch I won't be buying one next year, way to ugly and cheap looking!

Randy (not verified)    December 28, 2014 - 9:21PM

In reply to by Joe (not verified)

There would be nothing holdin honda back from having the civic si in the coupe, sedan, and hatch opion? Similarly to what they did all the way through the 90's and early 00's with the coupe and hatchback si. I am also in my 20's and I would love to have a new civic si hatchback. Its all in taste

Cindy Lou (not verified)    October 16, 2014 - 2:20PM

I have 215K on my 1999 Honda 5-door. I don't like the cutesy look of the Fit. I want another hatchback! Why would they sell it in Europe and Asia and not here? I didn't see a good reason in the article. If people want them, why deny buyers?

Parks McCants    October 17, 2014 - 2:45PM

In reply to by Cindy Lou (not verified)

Welcome Cindy Lou. The answer to your questions is only known to the powers to be at Honda Motors. What we do see coming to North America in 2015 is a small hatch crossover based on the FIT frame. It will be smaller than the current Civic yet offers the looks and utility of a Honda hatch. Note: I love the styling of your model. Safety requirements and manufacturing principle has out sized it. 95% of all Honda cars now sold in the U.S. are assembled in North America. In Europe and Asia the hatchback effectively replaces light trucks and minivans as the family utility.

Mike (not verified)    October 23, 2014 - 1:25PM

America NEEDS even the FWD 2 door Honda Civic. We still drive our 340,000 miles 1997 2 door civic hatch. It still gets interest, in spite of the rust patches. A US made 2 door hatch would ell fast. I am 250 lb 6 ' athletic American. 4 doors a for snores, and are a burden when we rent since my wide shoulders dig into the door column or the seatbelt mount. Stop bringing in only 4 door soccer mom cars to the US. We are not all that boring. keep it simple: no power windows, no power locks, no power seats or heated seats...pounds for safety and no more for electro junk...just drive people! Bring the fun back to driving, and make certain that there is a manual stick option at a reduces price...that is driving! Reduce the weight and engine size...we really cannot drive over 125 mph on our under funded highways, stop trying to cut off other drivers while you are on the phone/navi/radio... You know who you are, and drive safely!

Parks McCants    October 23, 2014 - 6:10PM

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

Welcome MIke. Car manufactures design and produce cars based on buyer feed back. While you and I like the simple utility of a two door hatch or coupe the market demands more. Good luck keeping your 97' running, Honda will never make another car like it.

subaru nut (not verified)    November 29, 2014 - 11:16PM

As far as I know, there is no Civic in the Japanese Domestic Market either! The Civic is well regard in Great Britain overall also because it is built there. Honda CIvic Type Euro or simply Euro. Honda is more and more into the hybrids right now. I believe Subaru is surfing the big wave these days. I am looking forward for the hopefully soon to come (maybe next year, maybe next next year) jdm impreza (both sport and g4). Also, I would like to see some scoobies with that FA20F! engine of theirs but with manual gearboxes also. Maybe their arttronic seqvential gearbox or whatever they call it, is all bread and butter, but to be forced to pay more and to be forced to get 'automatic', if you want something bigger than their jdm 1.6 liter is unfair to say the least.

MC_K7 (not verified)    April 26, 2015 - 4:06PM

Honda did confirm they will bring back the hatchback in North America for 2016 so I guess this article isn't true anymore.

It all comes down to personal tastes. I prefer hatchbacks over sedan or coupe. I find hatchbacks better looking in general. In my mind a hatchback is sportier, and a sedan is more boring and family oriented. A coupe is sporty too, but just not as practical as a hatchback. The reason I think hatchbacks are sportier is probably because all rally cars are hatchbacks. And in Europe all the sportier versions of small cars, or all the "extreme" versions if you prefer, always come in hatchback forms. Just take the new Ford Focus RS for example, 320 HP and 4-wheel drive, this is one brutal hatchback!

Even though I live in North America, my tastes are probably more European. I live in Quebec, Canada and hatchbacks are very popular around here. But the mentality here is probably closer to Europe compared to the rest of North America. You can tell right away by car tastes, as soon as I drive out of Quebec, you stop seeing hatchbacks. When I go to Ontario or in the U.S., all you see are those huge sedans and ugly SUVs.

Callygirl (not verified)    August 7, 2015 - 1:30PM

I would be very disappointed if they don't sell the Honda Civic SI Hatchback in 2015/2016. I love the way it looks and I am looking for a new car within the next year or so. Only because as my car is aging and when it needs repair work, it is getting harder to find parts for it. I still drive my 1989 Honda Civic SI and it is in really nice shape. Still get offers to buy it every six months or so. It runs like a champ. There is no other affordable car in my price range that I care for or like. The only other cars I like are very very expensive cars which I cannot afford. But I like small cars, always have.