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