First, and most important: Yes, there will be a stick-shift Civic Hatchback, and not just in the entry level models. Three-pedal enthusiasts will be able to get a six-speed manual with either the base 2.0-liter engine or the hot-rod 1.5-liter turbo, the latter in top-of-the-line Sport Touring trim.
With that elephant out of the way, we can talk more about the changes to the new car compared to the suddenly old 10th-generation Honda Civic Hatchback. What struck us first about the 2022 Civic hatch is how smooth and simple the back end looks. The twin spoilers that adorned the old model are gone, and the change makes all the visual difference, emphasizing the new car’s sleek, coupe-like profile.
The styling changes aren’t limited to the Civic’s rump. Honda also changed the panel that mates the hood and the grille, with a reverse-slanted angle that contrasts nicely with the Civic sedan’s Accord-like vertical panel. The grille itself has a unique honeycomb pattern. Armchair designers, take note: This car is a great overall lesson on how to differentiate similar vehicles with minimal parts changes.
The newly unadorned hatch—the actual hatch door, that is—is made of resin (don’t call it “plastic”, even if it is—the Honda folks get annoyed), which allows for a lighter hatch employing very spindly hinges with a bigger opening. That’s especially important for this car, as Honda thinks a lot of Civic hatch buyers will use it to carry cargo rather than people.
Honda didn’t have precise cargo measurements for us, but it said we can expect a cargo measurement slightly smaller than the old car but still best in class. Folding down the rear seats yields a cargo chasm that reminds us of the landing deck on the Death Star—Chewie could land the Millennium Falcon back there blind drunk and with one paw tied up in his bandolier. He’d better bring chocks, though, because the seats don’t fold down completely flat.
Up front, the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback’s cabin is pretty much identical to the sedan’s cockpit, and that’s a good thing. We like the nifty honeycomb pattern that hides the air vents, and we’re impressed by the switchgear’s quality. The metal trim on the climate-control knobs and window switches are the kind of upscale touch that lets you forget the Civic is an entry-level car. And if you forgot, the Civic is the entry level Honda car now that the Fit is dead.
Honda will offer the 2022 Civic Hatchback in four trim levels. The LX and Sport models will come with the 158-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The 2.0-liter is paired with a continuously variably automatic transmission in the former and offered with either a six-speed stick or the CVT in the latter. Moving up to the EX-L or Sport Touring gets you the 180-hp 1.5-liter turbo engine. The EX-L comes with an automatic transmission while the Sport Touring can be had with a stick.
Honda talked about a sportier driving experience in the 2022 Civic Hatchback, but we expect the difference between it and the sedan to be minimal. That said, Hatchback models get a more aggressive tire and enjoy a stiffer body structure than the sedans. As for specific chassis and suspension changes, our U.S. Honda contacts had not received any specifics from Team Japan. Even if the changes are minimal, that’s fine with us; the new Civic sedan is already a fine-driving little car.
One more tidbit: The new Civic Hatchback will be assembled in Greensberg, Indiana. We’re all for more U.S.-market cars being built in the U.S., and it also gives Honda better ability to change its model mix depending on which body style proves more popular.
Overall, we think the new 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback is a good-looking car featuring ideas well above its entry-level station. But we wonder how the tamer look will go over with the young folks to whom the hatch is meant to appeal. It was the old Civic Hatchback’s resemblance to the bewinged Civic Type R that made it a hit with the kids, and the kids are critical for the Civic: If you didn’t know, it is the best-selling vehicle among first-time new-car buyers.
Honda says the 2022 Civic Hatchback will go on sale later this year. We’ll get a more specific timeline and specs closer to the on-sale date—and, of course, a first drive.