The Origins of the Honda Civic
The story of the Honda Civic begins in the early seventies, with an incredibly lightweight and admirably plucky little machine that housed a surprising amount of technology for the time. In an era where the cars it competed against used finicky drum brakes and weighed more than two tons. In dramatic contrast, the first generation Honda Civic weighed barely 1,500 pounds and featured front disc brakes and gas mileage that would be impressive today.
While the comparatively extreme fuel economy the first Civic was capable of was the first thing that got the attention of the American car-buying public, what truly endeared so many to the plucky hatchback was just how practical and spritely it was. For something roughly half the size of the standard American car of the mid-70s and far less than half the engine size, the Civic punched far above its minuscule weight from the get-go.
Through the seventies and into the eighties, the Civic evolved through its second and third generations. Gaining power, size, and refinement, it became much more livable, staying ahead of the competition.
The fourth-generation was still half the weight of what many Americans were buying at the time but offers all the same comforts for driver and passenger. This was in addition to the substantial amount of space in the rear, which was now much more accessible. This fourth-generation, often called ‘EF’ by enthusiasts due to the car’s chassis code, continued Honda’s expansion of the Civic line.
The sports-oriented Si trim and CRX model took the basic Civic package and focused on making the driver’s experience as thrilling as possible while still retaining the ability to pack more cargo in the rear than many sedans of the time, let alone sports cars. While the Civic continued to be a giant killer on technical racecourses, it kept trucking as a workhorse and family hauler as well. Sedan and wagon variants were available, and there was even an all-wheel drive variant produced during this generation.
Jumping Forward In Time
Moving from the ’80s into the '90s, the Civic was already an automotive icon. But through the subsequent EG and EK generations, the small car’s star would only glow brighter. Growing into a smoother and more aerodynamic shape, the EG generation of Civic retained all the great traits passed down the generations.
What both the EG and EK variants of the '90s would be best remembered for among enthusiasts, however, was their solid reliability and extreme ease of maintenance and repair. EG and EK Civics were almost on the level of the original Model T in terms of how easily and quickly even the most intense operations could be performed. Because of the vehicle’s light weight, the individual parts were cheap, and because of Honda’s forward-thinking and elegant engineering, it is commonly said that EG and EK Hondas can be pieced together just like Legos.
While these traits were great for the average motorist, they were transformative for enthusiasts, many of whom grew up tinkering with '90s Hondas. There are many legends born of what these light and simple cars could do when modified, and those legends are what led the EG Civic to be the first on-screen car seen in The Fast and The Furious. In the first race of the series, a modified white EK coupe is prominently featured, doing battle with Japanese sports cars far further up the automotive food chain and price list than a humble Civic.
Up through the 2000s and 2010s, the Civic became more refined yet again while adding new options and dramatically more modern engines.
The 2021 Civic, in all its forms, comes from a long line of elegant engineering that solves the problems of a small car with well-thought-out, simple solutions. Whether the 2021 Civic in question is a sedan, hatchback, or coupe, it has been made with the same higher-level thinking that has made the Civic a global automotive icon for the past half-century.
The 2021 Honda Civic is a sharp car, inside and out. The thoroughly modern interior looks and feels like something out of a car with a much higher base price than $21,250. Just because the Civic remains a people’s car does not mean that it’s spartan. On the contrary, the Civic has a litany of standard and available features that add convenience and comfort to every drive.
Comfort and Entertainment
Heated seats are available front and rear, as are an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and a 540-Watt 12 speaker Premium Audio System with a subwoofer. Infotainment features run deep with the 2021 Civic, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, alongside HondaLink and Bluetooth connectivity.
The overall interior space of all the Civic variants is as impressive as always, with the amount of space available in the sedan and hatchback types especially large. Drivers and passengers will feel quite comfortable in the Civic Coupe as well, with plenty of head and legroom available.
Just like the original Civic, the current 2021 Civic Hatchback shows just how much can comfortably fit inside a well-designed small car. In fact, with more than 46 cubic feet of space in the back with the rear seats folded down (hatchback models), many who believe they need a bulky SUV could seriously consider getting the far more economical and stylish Civic.
Engines and Chassis
What makes the Civic tick has always been one of the most interesting parts of the car throughout its history. While previous Civics relied mostly on an extremely lightweight design, the 2021 model combines being lighter than the competition with having better engines.
The higher trim levels of the Civic now include the legendary K20 engine, which is quite possibly the best four-cylinder engine ever made for a production car. Jaw-droppingly lightweight, extremely durable, and impressively powerful even in the economy-oriented versions, the K20 2.0-liter engine is commonly swapped into older Japanese sports cars.
Veritably worshiped by enthusiasts, and for a good reason, the K20 engine comes from the factory in the Civic Coupe and Sedan, as well the turbocharged and shockingly fast Type-R.
The other common 2021 Civic engine is also gaining popularity among the car enthusiast crowd, despite its small displacement. This is the new 1.5-liter L15 four-cylinder engine, found in all non-Type-R 2021 Civic Hatchbacks. Coming from the factory with a turbocharger on all models, the L15’s small size makes it impressively lightweight for a turbocharged engine.
Power is nothing without control, but the Civic was never meant to prioritize speed over agility. The 2021 models feature some of the stiffest unibody frames ever put on a Civic, giving a feeling of solidity and confidence while improving the ability of the suspension to cope with varying road surfaces. While every 2021 Civic features excellent road-holding and handling, the Type-R takes it to another level, with specially tuned suspension and more powerful brakes.