How the humble Honda Civic remained Canada’s favorite car for 23 years – .

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How the humble Honda Civic remained Canada’s favorite car for 23 years – .


While Honda first arrived in Canada in 1969, it wasn’t until 1973 that the Honda Civic arrived and made its presence known. It is, after all, the car credited with saving Honda as an automaker – in the 1960s it was famous for its motorcycles, but less so for its cars of the time. The new Civic took conventional wisdom and, like the Mini before it, shattered it.

In its first year in Canada, the Civic got off to a bleak start, selling just 747 units. However, since then it has become the best-selling passenger car in Canada, a ranking it has enjoyed for 23 consecutive years.

While it’s not practical to take a full review of each of the 11 generations, there have been a few milestones along the way.

The second-generation Civic arrived in 1980. To broaden its appeal, Honda offered a four-door sedan and, of course, three- or five-door hatchbacks. The world also got the Civic wagon. Its tall, upright stance made it versatile, but it was also a seriously unsightly piece. To his credit, however, he got four-wheel drive.

The third generation arrived in 1984 with more elegant styling and the two-seater Civic CRX. The fourth generation looked better and featured the CRX Si with a 1.6L engine developing 105 horsepower. Handling has also taken a big step forward with the introduction of a new double-wishbone front suspension. This made the Civic one of the most agile small cars on the road at the time.

In 1992, the fifth-generation Civic continued to grow stylistically, and the lineup now included an oddity in the form of the Del Sol. It was basically a Civic coupe with a removable roof panel. As a replacement for the much-loved CR-X, it didn’t fare so well.


From the sun

In 2001, the seventh generation Civic landed. It was equally controversial, as the double wishbone suspension was replaced with MacPherson struts. The outcry focused on the fact that the former was supposed to be better than the latter in terms of outright handling. History has shown that the design works. The 2017 Civic Type R, using essentially the same suspension, completed the famous Nürburgring in 7: 43.8, a time comparable to that of a 2010 Nissan GT-R, which, I remind you, had 485 horsepower and all-wheel drive!

Another momentous Civic moment came in 2002 when Honda brought the Civic SiR to Canada, imported from the company’s plant in Swindon, UK. It shared its platform, 160 hp 2.0L i-VTEC engine and manual transmission with the Acura RSX. It was also the first Civic to be equipped with electric power steering.


2002 Civic SiR

As for the Acura, the Civic went upmarket in 1996 when the uniquely Canadian Acura EL arrived; at the time, this Civic-based model offered an affordable way to enter Honda’s premium portfolio. Shortly after the dawn of the new millennium, Honda introduced the first Civic Hybrid. It took much of its technology from Canada’s first gasoline-electric hybrid, the 1999 Insight, and delivered a posted average economy of 5.8 liters per 100 kilometers.

Honda is not beyond the blunder. The Civic introduced in 2012 was instantly reworked in 2013 due to the poor response to refresh. It was then reinvented again for 2016 – it was a complete makeover that touched everything. The key was the fact that it eliminated the two-tiered dashboard that many didn’t like and introduced turbocharged power for the Civic for the first time.

Part of the Civic’s appeal is that it has been produced in Canada since 1988. Honda Canada Manufacturing (HCM) is based in Alliston, Ontario, just over 100 kilometers from Toronto. Thirty-three years later, Honda still builds the Civic in Canada – the longest run for a car at any Honda plant in the world. In all, over nine million Honda cars and light trucks have been produced in Canada, of which over five million are Civics. The latest is the all-new 2022 Civic being reviewed elsewhere.


2022 Civic

Twenty years after the doors opened in 1986, HCM’s four millionth vehicle rolled off the line. Unsurprisingly, it was a Civic, just like the five millionth series car in 2009. In 1998, HCM added a second plant, which doubled production capacity to 390,000 units per year. A decade later, an engine assembly line was added. This nugget underscored Honda’s reputation as an engineering company – it remains the largest producer of engines in the world.

Honda engine innovations over the years have included Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC) and Electronic Variable Valve Timing and Lift (VTEC) control.

In the beginning, one of the main attributes of the Civic was the CVCC engine. When introduced in 1975, the 1.5L four-cylinder produced 53 horsepower. Most importantly, it reduced emissions and improved fuel economy. With the oil crisis and the coming into force of stricter emissions regulations, the Civic’s ability to meet these new rules without the need for emissions controls made it an instant hit, as did the fact that it could. burn leaded and unleaded gasoline.


1975 Honda CVCC.

Meanwhile, Detroit-based automakers struggled to get their emissions under control. While Chrysler and Ford have licensed CVCC technology, GM has dismissed it as “a little toy motorcycle engine.” This angered Soichiro Honda so much that he shipped a Chevrolet Impala with a 5.7L V8 to the company headquarters. After tinkering around and installing reworked cylinder heads based on the CVCC design, the big V8 was cleaner than the original engine and it did not need emissions control – the catalytic converter was quickly becoming the go-to technology for cleaning the engines. broadcasts in the mid-seventies. Of course, the Honda Impala also got better gas mileage.

The goal behind VTEC is to provide better performance at high rpm while reducing fuel consumption at low rpm, and this by using different cam profiles. Later intelligence was added (I-VTEC). It incorporated a cam phase shift, which brought even better performance and reduced emissions. Lately, Honda has switched to turbocharging to provide better power and greater efficiency. The Civic Type R is the epitome of the new breed: 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque between 2,500 and 4,500 rpm, that says it all.


2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

The other intangible element is the Civic’s ability to do whatever the owner wants, especially when it comes to performance. This aspect ranges from a re-flashed chip and cold air intake (adding around 30 horsepower) to insanity.

The golden mean is found in the hot-rod Civics found on the floor of the SEMA show in Las Vegas. The extensive lineup included everything from the Civic model of RealTime Racing introduced in 2005 to a unit prepared by Honda in 2011. The Civic Si HFP (Honda Factory Performance), which arrived in 2012 as a limited edition model, included a kit body, lowered suspension and HFP wheels fitted with Pilot Super Sport tires.

For those with a fertile imagination, the work extends to madness. A Civic with a 2.2L turbo-four printed in blue that runs over 60 pounds of boost pressure is a prime example. It produces 1,500 hp, reaches 96 km / h in 1.1 seconds and has a quarter-mile time of 7.45 seconds with a terminal speed of 186.79 miles per hour. This equates to 299 Canadian kilometers per hour! Yes, this Civic runs on all four wheels, but who matters?

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