On my commute home to work on Highway 27 one day last week in a 2019 Honda Civic Sport I had a zen-like moment.
The combination of a six-speed manual transmission and a sweet-sounding Honda four-cylinder engine made me feel like I was driving a car worth twice the money. Everything felt solid. The engine was quiet, but with the promise of an audible kick if I decided to downshift and shoot past slower traffic. Frankly, 158 horsepower never felt so good.
And that's the beauty of the Civic Sport with a stick, which Honda thoughtfully supplied for a one-week Chattanooga test drive. It has that old-school Honda performance, with all the modern bells and whistles that youngsters demand, like Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
And now that Tennessee has a hands-free mobile phone law, what better way to occupy your right hand than with a leather-covered manual-transmission shift knob?
› Model: 2019 Honda Civic 4D Sport
› Exterior color: Crystal Black
› Interior color: Black
› Engine: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder
› Horsepower: 158
› Transmission: six-speed manual
› Fuel economy: 36 mpg highway, 25 mpg city
› Local Dealer: Economy Honda
› Price (as tested): $22,070
Locally, Economy Honda Superstore had 37 Civics in stock as of last week, including several Sport-trim models with manual transmission. (Maybe this is the beginning of a trend. Through happenstance we also had a Volkswagen GLI with a manual tranny in our driveway last week. Good times!)
WHAT IS IT?
The Honda Civic 4d Sport is a five-passenger compact sedan that's a step above the mid-trim LX in the Civic line-up. The Sport trim nets you remote entry, a leather steering wheel cover, sport pedals, a seven-inch touch screen and the Apple and Android phone interfaces.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Our tester, which includes no options (thank you Honda) rings up at $22,070 which we think is a real value. The real-life price is likely to be around $2,000 less according to currently advertised discounts.
WHAT WE LIKED?
The sweet shifting six-speed manual transmission, the normally aspirated (but still potent) 158-horsepower engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control and a suite of advanced safety-tech features such as forward collision warning and lane-keeping assist.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Call us old school but we prefer a manual parking brake to the electronic parking brake. A centered exhaust with a trapezoid-shaped tip is a little over-the-top for our taste.
If driving a compact, manual-transmission sedan without a turbocharged engine sounds like fun, the Civic Sport is just the ticket. The brakes, suspension and drivetrain have all the normal virtues of Honda engineering.
Shop hard and you may find one for under $20,000, which we think is a screaming bargain.
Online: In the market for a new vehicle? To access hundreds of Mark Kennedy's Chattanooga Test Drive columns visit www.timesfreepress.com/testdrive.
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.