Beyond Butch

Honda, Honda, Honda. The 2016 Honda Civic has only started to appear on the streets of my ‘hood. Goodness.

2016 Honda Civic rear bumper detail

This is not that, if that is a clean-surfaced, reserved and neat hatchback. This is a vehicle inspired by science-fiction films and military chic. And maybe Lamborghini.

If you were weaned on received wisdom, as I was, Alfa Romeo was making a come back any minute now and Honda had pensioners propping up the customer base. As of 2005´s model, the eighth generation, Honda showed they did not want coffin dodgers in their showrooms. I liked that car – it did mad with a bit of restraint and had a Citroen-loony interior. Thereafter Honda has kept on pouring more and more Red Bull and LSD in the designers’ cappucinos so that they would

2016 Honda Civic bonnet

seemingly get more and more inspired, shall we say.

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The slide show shows how a small inflection on that window line suggests “saloon”, conspiring with the residual stub aft of the screen to create a hint of a boot. And the front windscreen and bonnet angle is also less raked than before. A lot more so.

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The only reason I have seen a Honda Civic like this is that there is a fellow who lives in the district who works at the Honda dealer. He drives home in these promo cars. I only see these. I think that it shows that Jutlanders are not taking to this vehicle just yet. On the other hand 308s, Astras and i30s are going down like chocolate éclairs at a Sunday afternoon coffee club.

The overall feeling one gets from the car is aggression, chunkiness and deliberate butchness. It´s too butch in a way and that means it might not be butch at all.

Evidently Honda is now designing as if inspired by 14 year-olds’ ideas of a hot car. There are non-functional mesh-effect apertures on the rear bumper, non-functional or mock panel gap grooves on the bonnet, faux-mesh on the front bumper air intakes, and the car now has a faux-coupe or saloony look to it. I can’t imagine what the next one will look like.

[Second slide show source:]


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

34 thoughts on “Beyond Butch”

  1. How cruel DTW has become, showing a photo of the lovely Mk1 Insight under the ‘related’ tab on the same page as this dog’s breakfast of a design. History tells that Honda is not averse to ceasing all advertising revenue to those media publications who are too critical of their models … fortunately that’s not a problem for this fine body of brave writers.

    1. SV. Cruel maybe, but DTW don’t have control over the ‘related’ items. WordPress, in their bot-like wisdom decide what is ‘related’ to DTW articles. The three here obviously pick up on Honda, but sometimes the links are very odd.

  2. The 2017 Civic looks even more hideous than the Nissan Juke looked when it first appeared; it could be similarly successful on that premise, but I doubt it as the lower medium hatchback market continues to shrink. Like men wearing shorts in the winter, women with pencilled eyebrows, the glorification of graffiti and the enforced use of genetically modified seeds, it’s all part of the fetish of uglification that is sweeping the world.

    1. Yes, where did shorts in winter come from? And the current trend for baseball caps with utterly flat visors, like duck bills. Yuk.

  3. Does it make you like the outgoing model better? At least it has a coherence about it that the new one completely eschews.

  4. The Civic won Car & Driver’s group test last month, pushing the blessed Golf into second. They too admitted that it is a foul looking thing, but in terms of everything else it scored very well. Like a debauched actor turning to flab, you look at the new Civic and you see the sad shadow of the fine looking thing it was back in 2005. But, though it would be nice if they didn’t hire the stylists that even Gorden Wagener turns away, the underlying car is probably a marked improvement.

  5. Honda’s current styling is – I can’t put it into more civilised words – piss poor. Even the humble Jazz, arguably the car in Honda’s range thats the least in need of ‘yoofication’, recently received detailing of a quality that makes Fiat’s facelifting abilities appear highly competitive. Thus far I’ve been spared the sight of the new Civic, but I’m quite certain it’ll render even its underwhelming immediate predecessor rather appealing in comparison.

    Did all the designers who came up with the Captain Future Civic in ’05 leave for greener pastures?

    1. It’s hard to decide which of the two Civics is worse. It’s a dead heat, I’d say. You can see where the car is from if you relate its ineptness to the Odyssey. Imagine that this is the same firm that did the nigh on flawlessly formed penultimate Accord. The difference is astoundishing.

  6. Even the most cursory glance through the various generations of Civic places the 2005 FN European model as a stylistic outlier: a spaceship plonked in an accomplished but bland car storage yard. It took a couple of years for FN sales to take off, but by 2007 and 2008 Swindon was going gang busters, producing 120,000 FN Civics a year, a third up on the previous generation in a static market. By comparison, sales of the botched FN2 sank to 45,000 a year. Honda had shot it. A very poor showing by any standard.

  7. The new Civic looks like a less talented indian Car Styling Garage tries to make a Honda NSX sedan version out of a 10 year old family car that was built for the chinese market….
    And i must say, the new Honda NSX seems to be a car from 2007 too…

    But i am sure i won´t see many of them, because Honda is stupid enough not to offer an estate version of the new Civic….

  8. I cannot tell you how much those fake vents on the rear valance offend me. They are this decade’s equivalent of slapping fins on a Chevvy, but without even offering the pretence of function. The FN Civic had triangular exhaust tips, but at least the exhaust actually came out of them.

    1. Now you mention it, the FN was always too good to be true. I should have seen what was coming when I saw those Toblerone exhausts. Un-natural. Exhaust is round – as any fuel kno.

  9. Chickens are coming home to roost for the Japanese manufacturers. While most European marques (for the most part anyway) reacted to the Japanese threat by taking design in-house and adopting a ‘house-style’, the Japanese car makers continued as they always did, chopping and changing from one iteration to another. Neither Honda nor Toyota managed to establish a coherent look, instead swinging from stolid conservatism to wild abandon – or in the case of the Civic above, both simultaneously.

    Now facing a determined and increasingly accomplished Korean industry, the Japanese makers’ reactions appear to be driven more by alarm than strategy. (See also Lexus recent announcement). I could be incorrect in this assessment, but I believe the Japanese marques will be most exposed to the continued rise of Hyundai/Kia/Genesis, and I think they know it. What they don’t appear to know is how to counter it.

    1. This.

      From the 3rd through 7th generations of the Civic one sees the gradual evolution of a utterly inoffensive and boring form. Meanwhile the Accord was looking like a car from a different manufacturer with every design cycle. Now is seems they are trying to elevate their design but have no history of established forms to work from and in their absence are leaning on Japanese “mecha” as an influence. It’s a look I find abhorrent, unfortunately mecha is fairly popular and I imagine the 10th generation Civic will sell well enough.

  10. Hondas have many virtues: bulletproof, good to drive, terrific engines, excellent packaging. I could even see myself in one of these new Civics, but oh Lord, not with those rear bumpers. A facelift cannot come quick enough.

  11. On the plus side, I’d wager that this latest Civic has the radar signature of a stealth fighter. Useful for when people are trying to shoot you down.

  12. I’m going to throw a grenade into this discussion. I finally saw a new Civic in the metal last night and you know what? It looked impressive. Not impressive as I am guessing DTW readers would interpret the word, but impressive to someone who wears grey flannel sweatpants and walks like they’re carrying two rolls of carpet. In a way the Civic has metamorphosed into a kind of anti-Golf: very much larger than the last model, and even viewed in a flat grey, surprisingly baroque in both form and detail. The car looks like it costs a big fat chunk of change, and in today’s loadsamoney environment I can see it selling.

    1. Maybe it looks like it’ll impress someone. The question is then about relativism: is there a general standard of good we’d like things to attain? Could the target audience have been impressed with a less crass design? I say yes.
      Further, if Honda wants this market then give the car a new name. If you sell a banana as a steak I’m bound to be confused.

    2. Are you suggesting that the secondary implications of the name (citizen, duty, leadership, etc) are now so out of sorts with the lairy looks that it needs changing?

    3. I would agree that this new Civic is clearly aimed primarily at the American market, being half a size bigger than the European norms. It’s very squat too, with a long bonnet and proportions more akin to a German prestige car. In fact, it reminded me of an amped up 3 Series, which itself is something of a mid-size between Focus and Mondeo. I imagine the American market sedan ups this feeling of deja vu even further.

    4. I find myself conflicted. The styling is crass and ridiculous, and yet I find myself warming to its chutzpah. I am also aware that a lot of good people’s jobs at Honda Swindon count on it being a success. I’m not saying that I would buy one, but then again, I am not saying that I would not either. And that really, really surprises me.

  13. I’ve seen very many of them on the roads here in Dubai. I’ve also clambered around a fair few at the Paris motor show. I was appalled but what I saw and felt in Paris but have to say on the road they offend less. Certainly less than the last blob which was just a sad pastiche of the lovely 2005 model. But the details are horrible but also easily fixed. The scowl over the front headlights can easily be replaced come facelift time and the rear bumper is already fixed in some markets with a much smaller (if still useless) gap:

    Blocking it off completely will look even better as this mule shot of the coupe shows:

  14. Ah the actual coupe got something that is also way better than those gaping holes we get in the UK:

    1. Sean most American press photographs have “stealth plates”. E.g.:

  15. The 11th generation Civic is out, now. It’s plainer than before and has quite a coupé-like air about it, from the rear. It gets a pretty good review from Vanarama.

    1. Hi Charles. Yes, I watched the review earlier. The new Civic seems to incorporate an awful lot of tech just to make the driving experience replicate an ICE powered car, which seems a bit pointless to me (but then I’m a bit of a luddite!) Honda seems to have dialled down the wacky looks again, but is it beginning to look a bit generic? Here’s the new mode, top, compared to the superseded car, bottom:

      Vanarama’s Mark Nichol is a good reviewer, although I suspect some cannot get past his tattoos and, er, eccentric dress sense.

    2. I’m always interested in what Honda do and I wish them well. They seem to be a bit eccentric, but they also seem to have integrity and to be successful. I see they’re teaming up with Sony to.produce EVs, which is interesting.

      On the subject of new releases, the Hyundai IONIQ 6 is worth a look, too. It reminded me of a Porsche.

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