Is the ’16 Civic the New ’96?

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.


By Aaron Gaghagen

Photos courtesy of Honda North America


It’s December 2015 and the tenth generation Civic has arrived, to the delight of consumers and the dismay of many (loud) enthusiasts. The general public is excited by the sharp new look, upgraded interior, increased power and fuel efficiency. The disapproving enthusiast complains that it looks like a Crosstour and it has a CVT.

I hate to break it to you, but you new tenth generation Honda Civic-hating enthusiasts sound a lot like the enthusiasts that didn’t approve of the now classic sixth generation Civic. Say what?!? Yep, people complained that the sixth generation Civic didn’t have the smooth curves of the fifth generation and the SOHC D16 didn’t excite anyone. And the sixth generation hatchback? Oh man, so many people talked about how it looked like Honda just chopped off the back. It was too slow and stubby-looking.


Of course, now the sixth generation Civic in all of its versions, especially the hatchback, is widely considered one of the best generations of Civic to have. The look grew on everyone and enthusiasts learned more about the tuning capabilities of the chassis. I predict something similar will happen with the tenth generation Civic too.

Why would any enthusiast be excited with the new Civic? Flat out, it is better than the previous generation. “Better?!? Yeah right, it looks like a Crosstour and it’s too big!”


OK yes, the rear quarter does have a strong resemblance to a sharpened-up version of the bulky Crosstour. But, if you look at the evolution of the rear quarter from the eighth generation to the ninth generation, you see that the rear has been moving toward a more sloped C pillar and a shorter rear deck for years now.

Why do we swap out stock parts for carbon fiber and remove other parts completely? We do that to remove weight. Removing weight helps improve every driving performance aspect of a car. The tenth generation Civic, despite being so “big”, comes in about one hundred pounds lighter than the previous version. Without taking away any amenities the new Civic has actually done a chunk of weight reduction for the enthusiast already. Better.

“We finally get a turbo and it’s wasted with a CVT!” A lot of the Honda performance people I know love to shout “function over form” all day long. JeffX at Temple of VTEC strapped a new 2016 1.5 liter turbo Civic with a Vbox data recorder and measured the actual function of the new turbo engine and CVT to compare it to the ninth generation Civic Si. He found that the new non-Si version of the Civic was quicker in the quarter mile by half a second, HALF A FREAKING SECOND! Read the thread here. Oh yeah, also if you wanted to daily drive it, the quicker tenth generation Civic turbo gets better miles per gallon too on 87 octane. Boom, boom.


The real questions about the tenth generation Civic should not be if it’s any good, but how far can we take it. How much cheap power can we extract from a stock turbo engine before we have to upgrade internals and transmissions? How much tire can we fit under those bulging fenders to take advantage of the increased power? How much better will the Si and Type R versions be and how many of those better-performing parts will fit the cheaper models? It will be fun for us all to find out together on the track, in the streets and in our garages and driveways.

Aaron Gaghagen on Email
Aaron Gaghagen
Multimedia Editor at VTEC Academy
Aaron Gaghagen is a veteran video editor and longtime Honda enthusiast. All told, he’s owned seven of them, and has enjoyed every single minute of wrenching on every single one. Except for that automatic one. That was probably a mistake. In 2010 Aaron teamed up with Brian Gillespie who along with another partner launched Nacho Speed Garage, a venture that capitalized on Aaron’s video expertise to do its part in entertaining and educating the Honda masses. Nacho Speed Garage took everything to the next level. Instead of reading magazines and cruising forums for content, Aaron and Brian were generating it themselves. The demise of Honda Tuning magazine in 2014 was the impetus for Aaron to do something even more impactful, though, which led to the creation of VTEC Academy and aims to carry that Honda torch forward in the same spirt of not just Honda Tuning but Nacho Speed Garage.