The all-new Honda Civic proves that the present is no time to die

Some legends continue to stand the test of time
Nov 23, 2021

“For every Connery, there’s at least one George Lazenby”

Last week, I watched—through totally legal means—the latest James Bond flick No Time to Die. As I saw the action unfold on-screen, it occurred to me that the franchise’s lifespan could be likened to that of a car. Every few years, we get a different film (a refresh, you might say) from the same actor before an entirely new face takes over the tuxedo to usher in a new generation of movies. Many interpretations, all under one name.

Of course, each actor puts their own spin on the character, which isn’t always to everyone’s liking. My father, for instance, reckons everyone that came after Sean Connery has performed nothing more than a hollow impression of the Scotsman who did it best. Again, not unlike the world of automobiles. Take the Honda Civic.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

Throughout the ’90s, the Civic gained legendary status as a sporty sedan and hatchback for the masses, with the various Si/SiR/Type R variants further blowing our collective minds. And then the ninth-generation model came along in 2011 and...well, fell flat. The model was widely criticized, with even Honda admitting its product was uninteresting at best. For every Connery, there’s at least one George Lazenby.

Continue reading below ↓
Continue reading below ↓
Recommended Videos

That all changed in 2015 when the Civic returned to its JDM-legend roots, making waves with a new platform, a stylish design, and a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. It arrived in our market a year later to much fanfare, including TGP’s very own Car of the Year and Readers’ Favorite honors.

So here we are, five years and a pandemic later, with the 11th-generation Civic. Foremost on my mind is the question of whether or not Honda can sustain the nameplate’s considerable momentum. Upon first glance, I have my doubts.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

It’s not that this version looks appalling. In fact, it looks good—but not in a way that inspires your inner boy racer. You see, the Civic has long had an inescapable juvenile appeal that makes you want to be like Hector with his infamous Spoon engines. This Civic, on the other hand, appears to be all business. Up front, it gets a snub-nosed grille inspired by the ever-so-divisive fourth-generation Jazz. Good start, right?

Continue reading below ↓

Along the sides, it does manage to retain the outgoing Civic’s fastback-y shape, but in a much more sterile form. Not helping matters is the fact that the beltline appears lower this time around, making the car’s profile look more like a crossover from certain angles. Out back, the boomerang-shaped lights have been replaced by some more sedate options.

While the top-of-the-line RS variant gets some low-profile tires, all-black wheels, and blacked-out door handles and a spoiler, they appear more like extra accessories rather than details that complete the whole package. It feels as if you’re getting an all-new Accord with some optional Mugen bits thrown in.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

Still, things get better once you peek under the hood. Powering this edition of the Civic is a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with 176hp and 240Nm of torque. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Or better yet, if it ain’t broke, plop the damn thing into the entire range. Yes, as it stands, this engine is the only option available for the Civic in our market. So, business on the outside, but pure fun on the inside, is it?

Continue reading below ↓

When you open the door, this does appear to be the case. The all-new Civic’s interior belies the exterior’s Accord leanings by greeting you with a honeycomb pattern across the dash that’s borderline nonsensical, yet still undeniably cool. The top-spec RS gets leather and suede seats with red contrast stitching, which provides a teaser of the Type R version due out next year.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

It’s not lacking in tech, either. Standard across the range is the Honda Sensing suite of safety features, which includes goodies like adaptive cruise control and a collision-mitigating braking system. Of course, you also get all the usual infotainment refinements. The RS, in particular, gets wireless Apple CarPlay and a 12-speaker Bose sound system.

So, we get a Civic that resembles the gentlemanly Roger Moore on the outside while catering to the Pierce Brosnan-esque ne’er-do-wells on the inside. On the road? Well, it’s a lot like Daniel Craig in that famous parkour chase scene from Casino Royale: deathly quick and precise, with just enough flaws to remind you that it’s human.

Continue reading below ↓

The all-new Civic delivers power to the front wheels via a CVT. Nothing inspiring on paper—I’ll always prefer the more conventional automatic—but it proves adequate in handling the car’s potential. Any fears of turbo lag are quickly dissuaded once you gently bury the pedal. The torque comes along in good stead as the revs steadily climb. There’s no unexpected jolt here, just the lightfooted goodness of a capable engine ferrying a well-designed chassis.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario

The perfectly round steering wheel, neither too big nor too small, is pinpoint-accurate in directing the car through sudden turns. It’s these same turns, though, that reveal the car’s limitations. It’s sharp, yes, but the inevitable understeer and body roll bring you back to compact-sedan reality right quick. Still, you would soon forget those imperfections when you’re jetting around an urban setting a little faster than you should.

Continue reading below ↓

The all-new Civic isn’t perfect. But since when could a car—especially one this popular—ever be dubbed as such? While it won’t please everyone, this Civic stays true to the model’s ethos of fun mixed with a dose of bad-boy charm. And just as every moviegoer will inevitably keep their favorite Bond actor close to their heart, this version could, in due time, become a cherished gem for a newer generation of drivers. After all, when it comes to inspiring boy racers, nobody does it better. 

undefined

Continue reading below ↓

undefined

undefined

Continue reading below ↓

undefined

undefined

Continue reading below ↓

undefined

undefined

Continue reading below ↓

undefined

See Also

Top Gear Philippines is now on Quento! Click here to download the app and enjoy more articles and videos from Top Gear Philippines and your favorite websites.

PHOTO: Paul del Rosario
  • Quiz Results

  • TGP Rating:
    /20

    Starts at ₱

    TGP Rating:
    /20
    Starts at ₱