Is the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback a True Sports Car?
We took the turbocharged Civic Hatch canyon carving and drag racing because that’s what makes it happy.
I was surprised by the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport; a car for which I had high expectations. At first I found it boring, and somewhat of a letdown. That was the first surprise. As a relatively lightweight (2,900-lb.) compact car with a tractable 1.5L, 180-hp turbocharged four-cylinder and a six-speed manual transmission, I would have expected to be laughing my butt off after the first minute behind the wheel. Instead, even after my second full day with the car, I was underwhelmed. Driving the new Civic Hatch was a typical economy car experience: great for all the reasons that would earn high marks from Consumer Reports, but deflating for me: the petroleum-blooded enthusiast.
And then I started driving it like I stole it, and that’s when the gray skies of mediocrity opened to reveal the Civic’s true sunshine. The 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback wants you to manhandle it. It lives for heavy throttle inputs, sharp shoves at the brake pedal, and your wrestling of its steering wheel.
The funny thing is, the steering itself is light … a little too light for my liking, but if you treat the steering like it has no electric assist, the car starts to feel on edge — kind of like a sports car.
Once I discovered this, I started getting addicted to the Civic Hatch. That was the second surprise. Now the car was exceeding my expectations.
When I started driving it like I stole it,
the gray skies of mediocrity opened to reveal the Civic’s true sunshine.
Would I have loved it to romance me within the first 30 seconds? Yes, but there’s something to be said about the way the turbo Civic carried out its character development with me. I had a “romantic comedy” relationship with it: a little unsteady at first with how I thought of it, but once I got it in the right conditions and figured out how it wanted to be treated, it was a bit of a laugh, and those laughs led to some feelings.
After we were finished filming the video above, I had one more night with the car, so I ran away with it from Los Angeles to San Diego to get a satisfying 300 final miles on the odometer before I had to give the car back to Honda.
The next day I was sad to see it go, but hopeful for the people who end up buying these cars. Now anytime I see one on the streets, I think to myself, “That’s awesome. You’re driving a sports car in disguise.”
This is why the review above is not your typical Honda Civic review. We treated this car like the sports car it truly is. That’s why we took it drag racing and canyon carving. Please do the same if you own, or plan on owning one of these.
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photos [Manuel Carrillo III]