5 Decades Of The Honda Civic Are Worth Getting Excited About

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Here's the history of a true legend of the automotive landscape.

Ahead of its reveal next week, there's a lot of buzz surrounding the Honda Civic Type R. Rumors have emerged claiming that the car will be offered in limited numbers and with a limited spread of customization options. There's also good news, as we expect to be able to enjoy once again a fizzy turbocharged engine and a set of three pedals. But as much as we love the sporty Type R, we need to give the regular Honda Civic on which it is based some respect too. This budget-friendly automobile has been a part of our lives for the past 50 years and is a true legend.

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Honda
Honda
Honda

1. Welcome to the World

The Seventies saw the Honda Civic debut. Developed as a global car, this first-generation car (1972-1979) was meant to appeal to markets all over the world, and it did. As one of the first Honda cars to be offered in Europe, it quickly stole hearts with its design, fuel economy, and practicality. It was also revolutionary; its Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC) engine became the first vehicle to comply with the world's strictest emissions regulations seen thus far, the 1970 Clean Air Act. Produced in Suzuka Factory in Japan, 1 million units were built within the first four years. From then on, its popularity only increased.

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Honda
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2. Coming of Age

In preparation for the next decade, 1979 saw the second generation of the Civic arrive with a refined CVCC-II engine. This improved on the original 1.3-liter engine by offering smoother power delivery and more fuel efficiency. But that wasn't enough, so Honda added a 1.5-liter sedan, hatchback, and wagon to the range, along with a five-speed manual gearbox. A new design for the front fascia helped keep it fresh for a time, but in 1983, it was time for the third-generation Civic. This had a longer wheelbase but will be remembered more for the introduction of Honda's 'Man Maximum-Machine Minimum' principle, which demanded "a human-centric approach to design" that ensured the technology and layout meet the needs of all occupants. A three-door hatch, a four-door sedan, and a five-door Civic Shuttle wagon were offered here, along with a sporty Civic Si that debuted with a 1.6-liter four-pot.

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Honda
Honda
Honda

3. VTEC Baby!

In 1987, the fourth-gen Civic introduced a new range of engines that included VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control). This revolutionary engine offered more performance at high revs and less fuel consumption at low revs, which helped the Civic scoop numerous awards.

In 1991, the fifth generation arrived with sleeker styling for a sportier look and feel before the sixth-generation Civic came to create "a higher value than its class." At this time, fuel consumption was once again a big talking point, so a newly developed VTEC engine arrived, as did the Hondamatic Transmission, a continuously variable transmission (CVT), for the first time. In 1997, it was time for more exciting things, and the Type R arrived.

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Honda
Honda
Honda

4. The Millenial Civic

The seventh-generation Civic debuted in 2000 and became the first Civic to offer hybrid technology in 2001. This model was the world's most fuel-efficient five-seater production gasoline car, achieving 29.5 kilometers per liter, or over 69 mpg. 2005 saw the eighth generation arrive with futuristic styling that was obsessed with triangular shapes. With Magic Seats, where the rear seat cushions can be raised to create a tall loading area, this Civic was truly out of the box. By fitting the fuel tank beneath the front seats, plenty of space was unlocked.

For the ninth-gen Civic, a 1.6-liter DTEC engine helped the Civic achieve a Guinness World Records title for the lowest fuel consumption in all 24 contiguous EU countries with a figure of 100.21 mpg. 2015 saw the arrival of the 10th generation, with a choice of two VTEC TURBO engines and, for the first time, Honda Sensing driver aids. This is also the generation that introduced the 2017 Type R, which set the FWD lap record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in April 2017.

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Honda
Honda
Honda

5. A New Era

The 11th generation of the Civic has now touched down and is offered with Honda's multiple award-winning e:HEV full-hybrid powertrain as standard. While the means of propulsion has evolved over the years, the latest iteration of the legend once again blends comfort, practicality, and style.

"Ever since the first generation that launched to such great acclaim, the Honda Civic has been an iconic model for European customers," said Tom Gardner, Senior Vice President at Honda Motor Europe Ltd. "The 11th generation encapsulates the core characteristics of functionality, usability, and comfort from the very first-generation Civic. It has been engineered to ensure that its powertrain, steering, and suspension deliver the engaging levels of performance, dynamic response, and feedback that have always been central to the Civic's appeal."

We'll see just how good it is when the latest iteration of the Civic Type R is launched next week.

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2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Spy shots Forward Vision Honda
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Spy shots View Out Back Honda
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