Once upon a time, the Honda Civic was a go-to recommendation for buyers shopping for a compact car. It was rarely the cheapest option, but a Civic offered good quality, economical operation, and a greater degree of sportiness than many rivals.
In recent years, however—and particularly with a disastrous 2012 model—the Civic lost its way.
A clean-sheet redesign for 2016 has changed all that, moving the Honda Civic back into the go-to category, winning it a North American Car of the Year trophy. Initial plans call for three body types: The sedan has already hit the showrooms, the coupe is just about to go on sale, and the hatchback will arrive later this year.
The coupe's design is, perhaps, even more successful than the sedan's. Though the coupe is five inches shorter, the two variants share their 106.3-inch wheelbase, and the coupe's sportier stance is achieved with reduced overhang.
We're still not sure about a shelf-like chrome element that dominates the grille, but everything else about the coupe's dramatic design works. Of particular note are the rear fenders' aggressively sculpted haunches, and an LED strip that joins the C-shaped taillights in a distinctive signature, even when they aren't illuminated.
Interior styling is elegantly subdued, with a low seating position and an excellent view forward; the view rearward isn't as good, but there's a camera for that. Materials are of good quality, generally, and accent trim is a bit flashier in upper trim levels.
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No one buys a sporty coupe with the expectation that anyone will actually fit in the back seat. And it turns out that Honda research found most Civic coupes are rarely occupied by anyone but the driver. So most prospective owners won't mind that rear headroom is in short supply. Even passengers of average height are likely to feel the glass of the sloping rear window at the top of their heads.
Interestingly, though, legroom is in more than ample supply—a full five inches more than in the outgoing coupe. As a result, taller rear-seat passengers may need to crouch down, but they can still stretch their legs.
At 12.1 cubic feet, the coupe's trunk isn't as large as the sedan's, but it's a well-shaped space with a large opening, and the split-folding seats have a sizable pass-through for additional versatility.