“… I am contagious, I am breaking down …” Oh, that’s the song. The 2016 Honda Civic’s launch party was just so achingly cool.
Honda showed off its 10th-generation Civic Sedan Wednesday at YouTube Space LA, and livestreamed it for the world to see. I was standing across from a band whose song I knew but name I didn’t (turns out it was Night Riots), and near people in knit caps and tattoos cheering them on. Honda is stoked on this epic new Civic, guys.
This all sounds like another cynical marketing attempt to capture the attention of people my age. The ones studies suggest hate driving and have no interest in cars, according to old people and their old muscle cars. Last year, Audi released a whole guide on how to sell the A3 to Millennials. We do love our aggressively targeted campaigns.
In fairness, the 2016 Civic has a hell of a lot riding on its more chiseled shoulders. The Civic long had a following among new, young buyers looking for their first new car, who then just kept buying them because they loved them so much. That sort of fell apart with the ninth-generation Civic, a car so removed from its ancestry in terms of feel, looks, and overall spirit. It’s like the Honda Civic became what your Aunt Hattie replaced her ’93 Achieva with.
It’s shown in the sales figures. In 2014, the Accord became Honda’s car with the most buyers under the age of 35. The HR-V and CR-V SUVs also represent more of what buyers want these days, with rugged looks and available all-wheel drive. It’s no cakewalk for the Civic anymore.
Clear past the clutter of the band and the fog of the reveal, and the 2016 Civic already looks like it has the things young new-car buyers look for when they go shopping. Show-car styling, the promise of good fuel economy, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and lots and lots of features.
The first of the new Civics Honda showed touts technology, refinement, and content more than the fun-to-drive characteristics. Enthusiasts may not find much comfort in the fact you can only get Honda’s new 1.5-liter turbo on models equipped with a CVT, now that the six-speed manual has really been relegated to the base LX. But then you were probably waiting for the forthcoming Si, or next year’s hatchback model, or probably the new Type-R. The Civic sedan targets the mainstream, and this time, the mainstream is the under-35 crowd.
The marketing for the 2016 Civic will undoubtedly be pitched so hard at Millennials, it’ll make you squirm. But with this car, Honda has to pull out all the stops to get the kids’ attention. The future of the Civic as the car young people steer towards when they get their first grown-up job depends on it.
Now to get Contagious to stop playing over and over in my head.