The 1980 Civic debuted with a more aerodynamic shape, increased engine power, and larger dimensions in all models. The wheelbase now measured 88.6 inches (225 cm) for the hatchback (the two-door “sedan” was dropped) and 91.3 inches (232 cm) for the wagon. All Civic engines now used the CVCC design; the base 1335 cc (“1300”) engine made 55 hp (41 kW), while the 1488 cc (“1500”) engine produced 67 hp (50 kW). Three transmissions were offered: a four-speed manual (on base models), a five-speed manual and a two-speed automatic.
The Civic 1300 and 1500 came in base and DX versions, and the latter featured a five-speed manual transmission, rear window defroster, intermittent wipers and a cigar lighter. The 1500 GL added radial tires, a rear window wiper/washer, tachometer, clock and bodyside moldings. The Civic wagon came in a single version that was similar to the DX trim level.
In 1981 a four-door sedan debuted, as did a three-speed automatic transmission that replaced the aging two-speed unit. Rectangular headlamps and black bumpers appeared on the 1982 Civic. A new gas-sipping model, the five-speed “FE” (Fuel Economy) was introduced and was rated at 41 mpg (5.7 l/100 km) in the city and 55 mpg (4.3 l/100 km) on the highway.
The sport orientated Civic “S” was introduced and replaced the 1500 GL in 1983 and was fitted with firmer suspension (with rear stabilizer bar) and 165/70R13 Michelin tires. A red accent encircled the S and set it apart from other Civics.