The History of Honda Civic

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Civic has been a very successful car from Honda ever since its production kicked off in the early 70s, and has been the oldest competitor to its Japanese rival & the world’s most popular vehicle- Toyota Corolla. Like most parts of the world, Honda Civic has a long history in our country too. First appearing on our roads during the late 70s, the Civic came as a subcompact hatchback along with a sedan iteration, but it was the early 80s which actually saw the rise of Honda Civic in our market. Let us have a look at various generations of Honda Civic.

First Generation (1972-1979)

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Before the launch of Civic in 1972, Honda was thinking of pulling out of car manufacturing altogether. The first generation Civic was their first big hit in the automobile market and kept Honda in the car making business. Since then, Civic kept improving after each successive generation and today it is considered as a concrete choice in its class.

Related: The History of Honda City

The first-gen Honda Civic debuted on 11 July 1972 equipped with a 1,169 cc four-cylinder water-cooled engine and featured front power disc brakes, reclining vinyl bucket seats, simulated wood trim on the dashboard, as well as optional air conditioning and an AM/FM radio. The first-gen Civic was available as a two- or four-door fastback sedan, three- and a five-door hatchback, as well as a five-door station wagon.

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One of the reasons why the first-gen Civic became successful was that it debuted during the oil crisis of early 1970s. Consumer demand for fuel efficient vehicles was high, and because of the Civic’s state-of-the-art CVCC (Combined Vortex Controlled Combustion) engine that was able to run on either leaded or unleaded fuel, it gave drivers fuel choice flexibility over other vehicles. The CVCC engine had a head design that allowed for more efficient combustion, and as a benefit it did not require a catalytic converter or unleaded fuel to meet 1975 Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards for hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide.

Second Generation (1979-1983)

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The second generation Honda Civic was introduced in June 1979. Compared to the first generation, it was larger, had a longer wheelbase, more angular shape, and came with increased engine power. The CVCC engines were upgraded with a third valve per cylinder; introducing lean burn swirl technology. This generation was available with a 1335 cc and 1488 cc version with power outputs varied between Japan, Europe, North America, and other markets. Three transmissions were offered: a 4-speed and 5-speed manual, and a 2-speed semi-automatic which Honda used to call “Hondamatic”. The second generation Civic was offered as a three-door hatchback, a four-door sedan, a five-door hatchback and a five-door wagon.

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honda decBy the time the 2nd generation Civic debuted, Honda had already surpassed its status as a niche automaker. In 1982, the automaker celebrated a decade of Civics’ success (1972-82). The image of a souvenir (pictured right) shows 10 stars on top of it, representing ten years of Honda Civic. The text on the left reads “World’s Best Transportation” while the text on the right says “10 years, and a 3-Million Seller.” Having Honda logo at the bottom, the souvenir was received by those buyers who purchased their Civic in the year 1982.

Third Generation (1983-1987)

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The third generation Civic was launched in September 1983 and immediately upon its arrival won the “1983 Car of the Year Japan Award”, the first Civic and the first Honda ever to won the coveted Japanese title.

Related: Remembering the Third Generation Honda Civic

The 3rd gen Civic grew not just in size, but also in terms of design sophistication. The wheelbase of 3rd gen Civic was now 96.5 inches which was 5 inches more than the earlier models. The exterior was neat and classy devoid of any gimmickry while a spacious interior design with supportive seats, large gauges, high-quality fit and finish, and an array of interior color options made the 1984 Civic cars attractive and an immediate success. In 1986, the 3rd gen Civic received a facelift, with different rear combination lamps and power-pack trims become available.

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Although available in multiple body styles and engine & transmission options in international markets, the Civic available in our market was the sedan version with a ZA1/ZA2 1200 cc 8 valve carburetor engine under the hood. Majority of the vehicles came equipped with 4-speed manual gearbox however there were a few available with a 3-speed automatic transmission as well.

Related: Toyota Corolla- All Generations

The 3rd generation Civic was loved for being available in more than 10 exterior colors and 4 interior colors (Black, Brown, Maroon & Blue) to choose from. No other car back then was offered with such a vast array of color palette to choose from. More amazingly, the interior colors were well-coordinated with the exterior colors, for example the blue colored interior was available in white or metallic blue exterior shades, whereas brown color interior was deployed in beige or light green colors etc. You couldn’t find a maroon Civic with a blue interior or vice versa.

Fourth Generation (1987-1991)

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The 4th gen Honda Civic debuted in September 1987 with sleeker design, increased dimensions, lower hood line, increased glass area and lower wind drag. A wide range of models and trim levels were offered for various markets around the world. The fourth generation Civic also saw the introduction of a fully independent rear suspension across the entire model range. Inspired by Formula One race cars, the Civic design promoted nimble handling and a pleasant ride by precisely controlling wheel travel and retaining the tire’s contact bit square to the road surface.

Related: When Cars Looked Like Cars..

Although a number of fuel injected & carburetor engines & various body styles were offered with this Civic in international markets, the ones reaching our market were sedans mostly equipped with 1.2L SOHC engines. However later, models with D13B were also imported from Japan. During 1990, the facelift with revised tail lights, extended bumpers, and trims equipped with sunroof appeared in our market.

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Although the 4th gen Civic was phased out by 1992, it basically acted as a donor model for the resurrection of Honda City in 1996 with the arrival of SX8 which was constructed on the same chassis and carried D13B engines under the hood. Most of the mechanical parts and even the interior elements of the City SX8 including door panels & power window switches etc were largely taken from 4th gen Civic.

Fifth Generation (1991-1995)

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5th gen Honda Civic was introduced in September 1991 adapting a more aerodynamic, smooth & curvier styling leaving behind the wedge-shaped design fad of the 80s. As compared to the previous generation, its cowl was raised allowing for more suspension travel, due to which the ride became softer, providing a more compliant ride & crispier handling.

Related: Interesting Car Nicknames in Pakistan

It was also considerably larger than the previous generation with a 103.2 inch wheelbase resulting in an exceptional space for the occupants inside. The 5th gen Honda Civic also grabbed the coveted ‘Japan Car of the Year’ award, the second Civic to win the title after the victorious 3rd gen. Like previous generation models, this Civic was also available in a number of body styles and engine options but only the sedan made its way in our market.

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The History of Honda Civic 7Initially it arrived as a CBU import in Pakistan with a 1300cc carburetor engine under its hood. However in November 1992, Honda Atlas Cars Pakistan Limited, a joint venture between Honda Motor Company Limited Japan, and the Atlas Group of Companies Pakistan was incorporated and their first vehicle, the 5th gen Civic with a 1500cc carburetor engine & 5-speed manual transmission rolled off the assembly line in May 1994. There was no 1300cc engine or an automatic transmission with the locally assembled Civic.

Related: Craze of Yesteryear- The 5th Generation Honda Civic

Interestingly the 5th generation Civic was produced for the shortest period of time compared to all Honda models assembled in Pakistan. In January 1996 it was replaced by the 6th generation Civic in less than 2 years time. Despite assembled for the shortest period of time, the 5th gen was one of the most loved models of Honda Civic in our country not just because of the visual aesthetics and ride quality, but the tremendous room for modifications it offered.

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More interestingly, years after getting discontinued, the 5th gen Civic got immensely popular once the “Fast and the Furious” movie was released in 2001. Demand of 5th gen Civic in used-car market suddenly increased and at one time it fetched even more than the 6th generation model, hence enjoyed great resale value for a long period of time.

Sixth Generation (1995-2000)

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The 6th gen Civic debuted in September 1995 as a 1996 model year car and immediately went on to win the ‘Japan Car of the Year’ award- the third for a Honda Civic model. It was launched Pakistan in January 1996, and was known as the greatest head turners of the market with its bold crystal headlamps and aggressive & sporty styling.

Related: History: Toyota Yaris All Generations

The 6th gen Civic was the first locally assembled car (in Pakistan) to boast variable valve timing engine, as it came with a choice of 1.6L VTi engine and 1.5L conventional fuel injected unit with both manual and automatic transmission variants on offer. Like previous Civic models, the 6th gen was available in numerous body styles & engine configurations around the world, but only the sedan version was available in our market.

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Three years later in January 1999 the 6th generation facelift Civic was launched and it made its award-winning predecessor look dull. Often regarded as one of the most beautiful Civic to be made, the 6th gen facelift was also the first locally assembled Civic to offer sunroof in its Oriel trims.

Seventh Generation (2000-2005)

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The 7th generation Civic was released in September 2000 for the 2001 model year. It featured a complete redesign that retained the previous generation’s exterior dimensions, however the interior space was improved by using a flat rear floor thus bumping up Civic to a compact car size segment. In order to lower costs, the front suspension was also changed from Double Wishbone to MacPherson strut.

Related: History of Hyundai Elantra

While the previous two generations and the ones next to it were focused on sportiness, the 7th gen was said to have lost the Civic DNA and wasn’t that popular among avid Civic lovers due to lesser room for performance modifications. However it was a true family sedan which provided decent level of comfort and a sophisticated drive.

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In our market, the 7th gen Civic was available in 1.5L and 1.6L Vtec engines with 5-speed manual and 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission which Honda called Prosmatec. It was different than conventional automatic in the way that the mechanical gear shifts from one ‘size’ to another in conventional transmissions was replaced with a sort of ‘cone’ of gears, which shifts ‘progressively’ from a lower to a higher gear and vice versa. According to Honda, the Prosmatec (PROgressive, Shift schedule MAnagement TEChnology) features an active lockup mechanism that engages even at low speeds, and achieves class-leading fuel economy through precision control. The Prosmatec transmission provide a smooth ride when ascending or descending hills since the system used to evaluate driving conditions based on the throttle opening and acceleration, and optimally controls the timing of gear shifts.

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In 2004, the 7th gen Civic facelift was launched and it changed the personality of the car altogether, keeping alive Honda’s tradition of introducing mind-blowing facelifts back in those days contrary to the minuscule changes they introduce today. The facelift was again one of the best looking Civics to be available, often regarded as ‘eagle-eye” the 7th gen facelift was widely appreciated by consumers.

Eighth Generation (2005-2011)

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The 8th generation Civic was launched in September 2005, for the 2006 model year. For this generation, Honda split the model into two different platforms, one for sedan and coupe, and the other for a hatchback designed primarily for the European markets using a simpler rear suspension from the Honda Fit and more aggressive styling. However as usual, only the sedan version made its way in out market.

Related: Was 8th Gen Civic a Bigger Head-Turner Than 10th Gen?

In July 2006, Honda launched the eighth generation Civic in Pakistan. The car was bigger than the previous Civics in almost every aspect. It carried a 1.8 liter 140bhp engine, the biggest ever offered by Atlas Honda in terms of displacement, as well as power. 8th generation Civic introduced the “two-tier” instrument panel with digital speedometer & opposite moving wipers etc. Honda used the word “Reborn” for their marketing campaign of the vehicle and it became so popular that the word got permanently associated with this generation of Civic.

2007 Honda Civic Sedan

From this generation, only one engine (1.8L) was offered with Civic (in Pakistan) as the company ditched the 1.5L and 1.6L engine options. Also, the 8th gen Civic was produced for the longest period of time as compared to all locally assembled Civic models. It was launched in July 2006 and was produced till September 2012 (7 years & 2 months) before being replaced by the ninth generation Civic. 8th generation is highly regarded due to its acceleration, drive quality, looks and a futuristic interior, and was undoubtedly one of the greatest head turners of all time.

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However on a downside its maintenance was bit on a higher side and since it catered to a very particular set of buyers with decent purchase power, the Civic continued to lose its market share in Pakistan. Honda sold 11,998 units of the 7th gen Civic in FY2005-06 (although 12,352 units were sold in FY2004-05 when the facelift arrived) however the following year it sold only 6,513 units of the 8th gen. By the time the 8th gen got discontinued, it sold just 4,977 units in FY2011-12.

Ninth Generation (2011-2015)

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Launched in April 2011 the ninth generation is often regarded as the most unsuccessful Civic ever. According to CEO of Honda Takanobu Ito, the model was developed during the height of the global financial crisis, which led Honda to believe that consumers specifically in North America would be willing to forego upscale content and quality in new vehicles so long as they were fuel efficient and affordable. Following criticisms regarding quality and refinement, Honda had to update the Civic with new exterior and interior improvements for the facelift that was thrown out just after 1 year of release of this generation. And it was replaced by the 10th gen model two years ahead of its schedule. Although the 10th gen Civic made its production debut in October 2015, its development had already started back in 2013.

Related: The Best Civic In Pakistan..

In fact, the 9th gen Civic was ranked among the Top 10 Worst Flops of year 2011 due to cheap interior materials, along with worsened driving dynamics and insubstantial exterior styling changes from the previous generation. Consumer Reports, the popular American car magazine also removed the 9th gen Civic from its ‘Recommended’ list of compact cars. More interestingly, this generation of Civic was never introduced in its home market- Japan.

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In Pakistan it was launched in September 2012, equipped with Honda’s Eco Assist technology, an information system to help the driver adopt a more fuel-efficient driving style. Like the 8th gen, it also had a “two-tier” instrument panel, while the cabin looked more like a refined 8th gen interior instead of something altogether new. It was also available in a lone 1.8L engine with similar transmission options as its predecessor.

Tenth Generation (2015-2021)

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The 10th generation Honda Civic debuted in September 2015 featuring a new fastback exterior styling with the C-pillar flowing into the tailgate and distinguished split-type boomerang shaped LED tail lamps. With increased dimensions it was built on a new compact global platform. The interior also received major design changes saying goodbye to the multi-level speedometer and digital tachometer of its predecessors.

Related: Honda and Facelifts- Then & Now

After a disastrous 9th generation, the tenth gen, often called as Civic X helped Honda win the game back with this Civic. Not only that this generation immediately won several international automotive awards upon its arrival, it also helped boost the sales of Civic around the world.

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It was launched in Pakistan in July 2016 and was available in two engine configurations- a 1.5L turbo and 1.8L naturally aspirated unit. Civic X marked record-breaking sales in our country during the first year of its launch from July 2016 to June 2017 witnessing 20,400 units sold which was an increase of 434% in comparison with preceding year when 9th gen model was on sale. As always, only the sedan version is sold in Pakistan whereas the Civic comes available in various body styles and engine configurations around the world.

Eleventh Generation (2021-Onward)

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11th gen Honda Civic sedan

Production version of 11th generation Honda Civic in sedan form debuted in April 2021 followed by the hatchback version in June 2021. The vehicle is currently available in North American markets only and will begin reaching other parts of the world towards the end of this year. This the largest Civic ever built with increased length & width, larger wheelbase a re-designed exterior which looks reminiscent to the current-gen Accord while boasting fully redesigned interior, upgraded powertrain, refined chassis, and new safety technologies.

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11th gen Honda Civic hatchback

Currently there are 2 engines offered with the 11th gen Honda Civic. There is a 2.0L naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine good for 158 hp and 187 Nm while the 1.5L turbo has been tuned to deliver 180 hp and 240 Nm which is 6hp/ 20Nm more than the one that was deployed in the 10th gen Civic. Honda has also announced that it will introduce a new e:HEV hybrid (to be made available in European markets) and a high-performance Type R version next year.

Related: Cars with Shortest Production Span in Pakistan

The current (10th gen) Honda Civic was launched in Pakistan back in July 2016 and will complete its 6-years lifespan in our market in July 2022. Whether we will get the 11th gen Civic in Pakistan in 2022, we will have to wait to find out.

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