‘Reborn’ Civic? The Civic never died! True enough. Honda’s global small car is now into its 10th generation, making it one of the longest-running nameplates on the market.
But, like most cars that claim decades-old lineage, the Civic has more than a few times come out of its cocoon bigger than before and with an all-new look. Is today’s Civic really a Civic, in anything more than name?
It’s surely a Honda: all the quirks and hallmarks are there… but a Civic? To those with an appreciation for change and progress, sure. And if being patently a small-ish Honda is all the qualification it needs, then, yes, it absolutely fits the bill (even if the shoe doesn’t fit).
But, wow. The new Urban EV concept, revealed this week to my absolute surprise – and it’s not often these days that car makers bother to keep secret their big motor-show plans – is the real deal, in my book.
Okay, yes, it’s an electric hatch. So it doesn’t have propulsion in common with the first Civic, launched back in the very early 1970s. And, when it launches in 2019, it most certainly won’t have a manual transmission – nor, probably, those big wheels fitting so snuggly in the concept’s flared guards.
But, just look at the styling! It’s not often a manufacturer unveils a car so clearly an homage to the icons of its past. There’ve been but a handful – of varying success and loyalty – including Fiat’s nuova 500, the Beetle, and of course the Mini Cooper.
Amusingly, and I think perhaps without complete awareness, many of the comments on our earlier article talk of similarities to the first Golf and the Peugeot 205 – although the earlier 104 would be the better call.
Throw the Golf’s little brother the Polo into the mix, while you’re at it, and surely a number of others.
Like the first Civic, these are, of course, cars of their time. Boxy styling was precisely what was going on back then, and if you put all of those classics side-by-side, it doesn’t take much work to spot the prevailing design trends.
So, does this Urban EV concept look like those European rivals? Sure, of course. That said, the Civic predates the Golf by a couple of years, and the 104 is of roughly the same vintage.
Likewise, the Civic was notably a more curvaceous thing than the rigidly angular Golf.
Of course, Honda could have done itself a favour by retaining the original Civic’s headlight ‘boxes’, sitting proud at each corner of the face around the squircle lights.
Indeed, my good friend Bobby took a moment and added in some subtle lifts to improve the family look- see below. I’ve used his own first-gen Civic as an example throughout this post, too.
So, for me, and with only a few months to go, I’m happy to declare the Urban EV – a reborn Civic, electrified for a new generation ready for its own iconic Honda hatch – is my favourite concept of 2017.
Matt Campbell agrees: “Yep. I want one. And I don’t want it to be watered down. I want that one.”
If the confirmed production version looks even half as good, and if Honda is kind enough to bless us with an Australian launch, I intend to buy in. You can hold me to that.
Bring it on!
Above: the Urban EV, with a slight tweak to the headlight frames. Courtesy, my good mate Bobby.
What do you think, am I out of my mind or is this is a compelling thing? Would it be the sort of EV you’d consider buying?
With thanks: First-gen Civic photos courtesy of Kyle Thomson.