In the middle of the last century the only thing populating shopping centre car parks more than Honda Civics were discarded supermarket trolleys.
Indeed, my little brother was convinced the latter, metal baskets on wheels, were aliens taking over the Earth.
Since then, the little Honda hatchback diaspora has matched the ‘invaders’ in longevity, if not in numbers.
How things have changed, now it’s the ubiquitous sports utility vehicle that has taken over from Honda’s compact car.
Hang on, what’s this? There is a single Civic that still stands sentinel like Dr Who’s Tardis over shoppers’ world.
What’s it cost?
The 11th generation VTi-LX is the only 2022 Honda of its ilk to land Down Under lately.
At $47,200 drive away, it’s $16,200 above the current entry-level VTi-S and $7600 more than the previous RS range-topper.
The new model, available only as a hatch, could not be more different in looks than those little Honda hatchbacks of yore.
Bigger than the current model, even, the newbie has taken on a sportier character with sleeker bonnet and lower coupe-like roofline.
Power is boosted to 134kW on premium unleaded, with transfer via a CVT automatic transmission through the front wheels.
Honda claims the all-new 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback, on the outside, has been refined with sleek curves, giving a luxurious and seamless feel.
Inside the vehicle, intuitive and cutting-edge tech has been positioned to give the owner the best experience.
Bigger than the current model in length (4.5m), with a height of 1.4m from ground level, new Civic’s front pillars have been moved to the rear by 50mm, while the roofline and windows have been lowered.
This, together with a sleek bonnet line, adds up to a sportier look than before.
LED headlights are capped by a striking pattern of LED daytime running lights, while out back things are less ‘out there’ than the previous model, with a spoiler integrated in the tailgate, no longer interrupting the driver’s view behind.
A sleek tail-light set-up has been boosted to allow them to be seen better from a distance at night.
Dual tone Y-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels complete the picture.
A plethora of car system info, such as fuel consumption and distance to empty, plus at this time of year need-to-know outside temperatures, is on offer via a 7-inch LCD screen directly in front of the driver.
Occupants can stay connected to the outside world with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
‘Indoors’ can be bathed in relaxing sounds, or otherwise, from a 12-speaker Bose premium sound system with subwoofer.
The cabin is designed to offer an immersive space for listening.
The new Civic is fitted with Honda Sensing, a suite of features that support the driver to keep as safe as possible.
Standard features include autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic jam assist and driver attention alert.
A pop-up bonnet is designed to reduce possible head injuries of a pedestrian making contact with the vehicle in a front impact.
What’s it go like?
The MY22 Civic calls on the reworked 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine from the previous model.
It now produces 131kW of power (+4 kW) at 6000rpm and 240Nm of torque (+20 Nm) between 1700 and 4500 revs.
Power is put to ground through a continuously variable automatic transmission, driving the front wheels.
The new Civic is quite civilised when it comes to the drive.
Honda says it has been engineered to ‘minimise environmental impact and maximise performance’.
The 1.5-litre turbocharged engine behaves in an unruffled manner under day-to-day city conditions, seemingly slipping through ‘gear shifts’ with time on its hands.
The driver can become more involved via the steering column-mounted shift paddles, switching from Normal to Sport driving mode via a button on the centre console, directly behind the gear lever, for a sportier ride.
The steering is direct and has a firm feel, some might say too much at low speeds.
Ride is untroubled on smooth surfaces and handling assured even at speed through bends and on inclines.
Combined fuel consumption is put at 6.3L/100km by the maker.
On test, figures varied from 6.7 litres to 4.7 litres.
With almost constant rain during the period with the VTi-LX, much appreciated was the windscreen wiper system which focuses the spray in the direction the wiper is headed, keeping things extra clear, especially at night with the glare of oncoming headlights.
The increase in dimensions translates to a spacious cabin, which despite a lower roofline, is not short on headroom.
A clever touch are the front air vents, which are hidden behind a honeycomb panel across the width of the dash.
Seating is black leatherette with red suede accents.
Red stitching pulls the whole theme together.
What we like?
Good fuel consumption
Steering direct and firm
Intuitive cutting-edge tech
Windscreen wiper system
Hidden front air vents
What we don’t like?
The bottom line?
In looks, performance, comfort, convenience and premium pricing, the new Civic VTi-LX is light years away from Honda’s original compact hatch.
Pestilence, war and climate change: different times, too.