History of the Honda Civic - A Full Biography
Honda is a worldwide known company that deals in the manufacture of various products related to industries such as automotive, telematics and aviation. It was founded by Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa in the year 1948 and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Today the company is successfully operating its plants in countries like the United States, China, England, Malaysia, India, Canada, Pakistan and many more.
Although, Honda had been in existence for a long time, it was mostly known for its motorcycles until the Honda Civic was launched in the year 1973. Since then there has been no looking back and to date many variants of Honda Civic have been introduced on to the market. Let us have a look at its history.
1972 – 1979 (1st generation Civic)
The first generation Honda Civic was presented in 1972 and was made available for purchase in 1973. This model had features like vinyl seating, woodgrain-accented dashboard, front disc brakes etc. Its predecessors were Honda N600 and Honda Z600. However, while Honda N600 had a 599 cc engine, the 1st generation Honda Civic enjoyed 1,170 cc engine. In addition to that, the hatch version of Honda Civic included cloth upholstery, an AM radio, a rear wiper, radial tires, air conditioning, automatic transmission and a rear seat that could be folded down. The 4-door sedan version was not offered in the US.
It was the oil crisis of 1973 that led to the rise in the demand of Honda Civic. During this time, Americans started preferring economy cars. However, due to the poor quality of American economy cars, the interest of the people shifted towards Japanese economy cars that were known for their high quality. That is how Honda Civic became a popular choice especially in the US market.
In 1974, Honda Civic's bumpers and engine size were increased for good. By the time the year 1975 approached, people had an option to choose from Standard Civic Engine and CVCC engine. The new "Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion" (CVCC) Engine included a head design which promoted a much more efficient combustion.
The 5-door hatchback made it's debut in 1978.
1980 – 1983 (2nd generation Civic)
1980 saw a better version of Honda Civic models, the 2nd generation. They came with larger dimensions than the first generation ones. While the wheelbase of the hatchback measured 88.6 inches, it measured 91.3 inches for the wagon. Now, three transmissions were being made available:
- Three-speed automatic transmission
- Four-speed manual transmission
- Five-speed manual transmission
Even the engine powers were increased in the 1980 Civic. 1980 also saw the introduction of a 4-door sedan as well as the 3-speed automatic transmission. In 1983, Civic "S" was brought into the market. It was a sports oriented car. Another car was spawned on the Civic platform and was known as Honda Prelude. This model was revised time and again and paved way for the launch of Honda Ballade and Triumph Acclaim.
1984 – 1987 (3rd generation Civic)
This 3rd generation saw an increase in the sizes and features of the Honda Civic. Although the body panels of the sedan models, hatchback and station wagon varied, they all shared common underpinnings.
It was also at around this time that Honda took on the "Si" badge for the Civic. The Honda Civic Si were mainly made available in hatchback form. The Civic Si included: tilt steering wheel, roof spoiler, 5-speed manual gearbox, color keyed airdam, removable glass sunroof etc.
The two seat CRX was also launched in the market in this period. It was known for its light weight and compact dimensions. Moreover, a new 1.5 L CVCC engine was also introduced. The third generation also saw the launch of another Si model featuring 1.6 L DOHC ZC engine and upgraded suspension.
Apart from that, 1984 was also the year when for the first time 4WD engine was introduced and which was later on improved in 1987. The push button operated 4WD system was upgraded in 1987 as Realtime system where rear wheels would automatically engage whenever front wheels would lose traction. This Realtime system is still being brought into use however with more technological improvements.
1988 – 1991 (4th generation Civic)
In 1988, the 4th generation Honda Civic underwent significant changes. Wheelbase now measured 98.4 inches. Other changed specifications included:
|Honda Civic Hatchback||Honda Civic Sedan||Honda Civic Wagon|
|Length – 156.1 inches
Width – 65.6 inches
Height – 52.4 inches
|Length – 166.5 inches
Width – 65.9 inches
Height – 53.5 inches
|Length – 161.7 inches
Width – 66.1 inches
Height – 56.1 inches and 56.9
inches in FWD Wagon and 4WD
All the Civic models except the CRX were sleeker than before. Such a body style supported increased glass area, lower wind drag and lower hoodline. The models available were:
It was presented as hatchback and had standard interior, engine output, instrumentation and transmission. 4-speed manual and automatic transmissions were available.
It was introduced as hatchback, wagon and sedan. Features included optional power steering, optional rear wiper, optional wheel covers, cloth seats etc. This model offered 5-speed manual transmission and automatic transmission was optional.
This was launched only as sedan and boasted of high level interior. The interior was equipped with tachometer instrumentation, electric door mirrors, electric door locks, electric windows and standard wheel covers and clock. LX had cable clutch transmission of 5-speed and an optional automatic 4-speed transmission.
It was available as sedan and had upgraded features that gave it an upper hand over the previous models. SI – SI was the sportiest Honda Civic and was introduced only as hatchback. Features included tachometer, color matched bumpers, larger exhaust, dash clock, passenger door mirror etc. Additional options were fog lights and air conditioning. However, no automatic transmission and no automatic power steering were available.
This was launched as RT4WD and FWD versions. RT4WD featured 6-speed manual transmission or automatic 4-speed transmission. On the other hand FWD featured 5-speed manual transmission or automatic 4-speed transmission.
1992 – 1995 (5th generation Civic)
The 5th generation Honda Civic was sleeker and had its wheelbase increased to 101.3 inches and 103.2 inches for hatchback and sedan, respectively. This Honda Civic generation made use of lightweight materials so as to manufacture an efficient economy car. Also, cowl was raised in these cars that allowed crisper handling and smoother ride. Trims available were as follows:
- For hatchback – DX, CX, VX, Si
- For sedan – LX, DX, EX
- For coupe – DX and EX
1996 – 2000 (6th generation Civic)
The 6th generation introduced in 1995 retained its crisp handling that sprouted from double wishbone suspension at the front. In fact, this was the last generation that had Honda Civic with double wishbone suspension. Coupes were available in DX, EX and HX trim levels, Sedans were offered in LX, DX and EX trim levels and Hatchback line up was reduced to CX and DX trim levels.
During 1997, all Honda Civics had 14 inch wheels. DX models were now equipped with full wheel covers and LX sedans included air conditioning. In 1998, Civic Si made a re-appearance. The new Civic Si had many changes than the standard Civic. New features included stiffer anti-roll bars, progressive rate-springs, tower brace that enhanced cornering ride. It also featured four-wheel disk brakes, firmer suspension, side sills, 15 inch wheels, body side graphics and the like.
Other than this, the Honda Civic was available in a wide range of colors from Cyclone Blue Metallic to Roma Red to Midori Green Pearl to many more.
2001 – 2005 (7th generation Civic)
2001 Honda Civic Model (7th generation) was released in 2000 and retained more or less the same exterior dimensions like its predecessors. However, the 2001 model came with increased interior space with a flat floor in the rear for rear seat passengers. Double wishbone suspension was replaced with MacPherson strut. In 2003, new tail lights were added to the Civic and in 2004 the front end was given a facelift with features like new headlights, grille and bumper.
2002 was marked by the arrival of Civic Si. The new Civic Si had its body style resembling that of the European-built hatchback. It featured 5-speed manual shifter, revised steering box, added sound insulation and 160-hp engine.
In 2003, the hybrid model set its foot in the market. It had 85-hp gas engine and offered the comfort of a Honda Civic Sedan. 2004 brought styling refinements; like LX now had 15 inch wheels; base models offered new center console, CD player and air conditioning. Honda Si was given 16 inch wheels and the hybrid model received height-adjustable driver seat.
2006 – 2011 (8th generation Civic)
The 8th generation Honda Civic offered 2-tier instrument panel. For this generation, Honda split the Civic into two platforms. One was for coupe and sedan and the other one was for hatchback that was designed exclusively for European market. The hatchback was available with three doors as well as five doors. An improved version of Civic Si was released in the US market. This Civic Si flaunted sportier exterior and many cosmetic alterations. Changes were also made in the exhaust system, suspension and wheels.
2012 – 2013 (9th generation Civic)
2011 was marked as the 9th generation of Honda Civic. This generation's Civic was introduced in North America in April 2011. In February 2012, it was launched in the European market too.
2012 Honda Civic received some criticisms for its cheap interior materials, frail exterior styling changes and degraded driving dynamics than its predecessors. As a result of harsh criticisms, Honda has introduced a revamped Honda Civic for the year 2013. The revamped Honda Civic boasts of many eye-catching features. These include the following:
- New front fascia
- Chrome accents
- Rear backup camera
- Pandora radio access
- Revised rear end that includes extra light clusters and new tail light designs
- Redesigned hood to name a few.
Apart from that, the 2013 Honda Civic has improved the quality of its interior material, as well as the handling and riding experience.