The manual gearbox. What was once a rite of passage to learn to use is now an archaic skill. At one point, cars with sticks were even cheaper than their two-pedaled counterparts but with advances in technology this often no longer holds true. People are less interested in learning the skill of rowing through gears, or maybe just getting a bit lazy. But for the rest of us who are interested in things like heel-toe shifting or clutch kicking, we're happy to know there are still some car manufacturers out there offering cars with manual transmissions. One of those, unsurprisingly, is Honda, which is still heeding our pleas by giving us manuals not only in the highly anticipated Type R and Si , but also in the LX version and its newest trim, the Civic Sport.
Before we talk specs, can we take a moment to mention how good the entire tenth generation Civic lineup looks? The '17 hatchback was built on the same platform as the sedan and coupe, with Euro-inspired sporty styling. It's available in five trims: LX, Sport, EX, EX-L Navi and Sport Touring. If you're the type who still wants that manly, hairy chested, manual gearbox, you'll only find it in the LX and the Sport. While both utilize a 1.5L DOHC turbo 4-cylinder, you'll want the Sport that has 180hp and a surprisingly cool center-mounted dual exhaust system. Just because the Civic has forced induction, don't think for one second that Honda has abandoned its world-class fuel economy ratings. Whether it's the LX or the Sport Touring, you're looking at 30mpg combined at the pump.
Moving into the cabin you'll find an unexpected, delightfully roomy interior that a big guy such as myself can appreciate. It has beautiful interior architecture and boasts modern sophistication. That is, until you get to the radio. If there were something we have to complain about, it would be the rather ugly stereo interface. Millennials might be a little confused with the basic radio rather than the touch screen that only comes in EX-L and Sport Touring trims. Converting the radio to a single or double din aftermarket head unit won't be easy either, as it has an integrated design that will need a little bit of customization.
With all that said, the '17 Civic hatch is a solid car. A snappy gearbox and enough torque to push you back in your seat. It'll satisfy the urban driver on the streets of San Francisco, the adventurous breed road tripping along Pacific Coast Highway, and even drivers in search of a spirited drive on a twisty mountain road with or without a passenger..The LX model starts at $19,700 and the Sport Touring will set you back $28,500. We would probably be most interested in the Sport that starts at $21,300 and even more interested in what the tuner community will do with it.