Civics Lesson: Don’t Be Dull

Honda compact gets more speed, more style, more turbo.

Today’s Honda Civic has been the Justin Bieber of compacts, winning the popularity contest even as critics tut over its milksop performance, barren interior and lack of creative soul.

But just like the Biebs, via his fortuitous hook-up with Diplo and Skrillex on summer’s ubiquitous “Where are Ü Now,” the 2016 Civic makes a serious bid for street cred to match its sales. Unveiled on September 16th in Los Angeles, the 10th-generation Civic sedan appears a smartly faceted, LED-lit upgrade.

On sale this fall, with a coupe bundling in for winter, the Civic shares the sturdy Accord platform and brings two new engines including a 1.5-liter four on high-grade models (only with a continuously variable transmission) that’s Honda’s first-ever turbo in the U.S. A 2-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder promises the most base horsepower in Civic history, mated to either the CVT or a six-speed manual transmission.

But for Honda enthusiasts, always suffering on the docks like sailors’ wives, good news comes ashore: Along with a five-door hatchback, the Civic lineup will add a fortified Si and a Type R (the latter in 2017) that may top 280 horsepower, for a fair fight against the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf R.