Quick Take
Now they've done it. Honda's gone off and messed with their monster-selling Civic subcompact, and... Read more »
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Now they've done it. Honda's gone off and messed with their monster-selling Civic subcompact, and now the J-(ennifer) Lo(pez) Generation is all chapped about it.

"God, it's ugly," admitted a J-Lo hot-rodder recently to a reporter for Automotive News, adding, "it's not as performance-oriented as it used to be.... And the horsepower gain is negligible because it's a heavier car."

Reporter Mark Rechtin's opinion of reactions like this one is unvarnished: "By their ripcord impact on trends and culture, the young enthusiast buyers have a nationwide impact on Honda's image in general—and on Civic's marketability specifically." And this, he says, is true despite the relatively small number of Civics actually purchased by twentysomething loudmouths.

Honda has defensible reasons for making its styling changes, but these explanations aren't likely to win much respect from the bare-midriff-and-droopy-drawers crowd. What do gearheads care if the Civic is roomier and safer for families? For the last five years, Civics have been the car platform of choice for "slamming" (i.e., lowering suspensions to asphalt-scraping levels) and "jamming" (i.e., cramming trunks, back seats and door panels with humongo stereos of earwax-melting power potential).

Speed junkies have been stuffing Civics with all manner of turbo- and superchargers, with or without afterburner-style nitrous oxide (NOS) injection systems, all for the sake of ratcheting up top speeds to insane levels and cranking down quarter-mile street-racing times to the lowest limits that physics allows.

Bragging rights and wrongs

So when Honda brags about the cabin space it has saved by trading out last year's sophisticated double-wishbone front suspension with 2001's more rudimentary MacPherson struts, Gen J-Lo doesn't wanna hear about it. All they know is that you can't easily "drop" the front end of the car with a short set of coil springs anymore. And so what if the rear footwell is now roomier because it's perfectly flat, thanks to a rear suspension redesigned without trailing arms? Back seats are for subwoofers and speaker cabinets, man; and anyway, the chicks in the back like to sit on their feet.

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