Ten generations of Honda Civic

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

Ten generations of Honda Civic The old... Ten generations of Honda Civic
Ten generations of Honda Civic ...and the new Ten generations of Honda Civic

Back in the day, it shifted the goal posts

This seems like an oddball inclusion in the hallowed pages of Unique Cars, because it’s definitely not a muscle car and hasn’t really reached classic status yet.

But there is no doubting the impact this little hatchback from a motorcycle maker had on the Aussie car market, when it was launched 44 years ago this month.

We are talking about the Honda Civic and at the time our sister publications had this to say: "A car that is a motoring revolution has just gone on sale in Australia. It isn’t a revolution because it is so startlingly different in design or specification but simply because it is so damned good, so remarkably cheap and has such a wide appeal to buyers of all ages, sex and type. The car is the Honda Civic. (Wheels, May, 1973)"

While Aussie families were being carted about in local iron like Kingswoods, Valiants and Falcons, it was left to the British and Germans in the 60s – think Mini and VW, and the Japanese in the 70s, to give us most of the small cars that dotted the motoring landscape at the time.

As this month sees the 10th-generation Honda Civic hatch hit the streets we should recognise the little ‘un that punched above its weight when it arrived.

Over time the Civic has got bigger and heavier and powering today’s Civic hatch is a 1.8-litre four with 104kW; over double the 48kW eked out by the 1.2-litre donk in the ’73 model. But back then you had a choice of a four-speed manual or a two speed-Hondamatic (Auto), whereas now, it’s a CVT self-shifter or nothing.

The new Civic won’t give you nose bleed with its acceleration, taking a leisurely 9.3 seconds to reach 100km/h, but that’s like a supercar compared to the oldie that took an agonising 13.7 seconds to achieve that number and the oldie couldn’t even crack the ton; its top speed was a pedestrian 145km/h.

Mind you, the’73 was a featherweight at 657kg compared to the 1289kg of today’s Civic.

As you’d expect the new Civic is way better on fuel (and emissions) than its great-great-grandad, using 6.1 litres to travel 100 kilometres, not 7.5 litres per 100km, which was a good figure back then.

Back in the day you would have shelled out $2,469 of your hard-earned to sit behind the wheel of a Hondamatic equipped Civic, which in today’s money equals $22,437, while the latest 10th-generation model, 44 years later, will set you back $22,390.

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