Honda is planning a return to North America’s compact hatchback marketplace, according to a report published today at Nikkei Asian Review.

That report is not the stuff of certainty, citing no sources within Honda, but suggests that Honda will begin manufacturing Civic hatches bound for our shores to use up excess production capacity at its plant in Swindon, UK. The circumstances involve slumping European sales, which has forced Honda to cut production at Swindon. Other factors include the any-day now arrival of the HR-V crossover, which is being built in Mexico, and the Japanese-built Fit (called the Jazz elsewhere): because construction of European versions of those cars won’t happen at Swindon, the rumour is Honda will ramp up Civic production to get assembly lines moving again and use the opportunity to bring the hatch back to North America.

The last econobox-grade Civic hatch to see a showroom floor in Canada was sold as a 2000 model and phased out with the introduction of the seventh-generation model in 2001; a performance-oriented, low-volume Si-R variant based on a European model carried on until 2003. Honda’s decision to go all-sedan with the Civic always struck us as strange, because just as it canned the most versatile version of its best-known car, all kinds of other automakers jumped into the compact hatch game: Ford Focus (1999-2000), Mazda Protege5 (2002), Hyundai Elantra (2002, and was offered as a wagon before that), Kia Spectra (2000), and Toyota Matrix (2002 as a 2003 model, and also sold as the Pontiac Vibe). VW’s Golf never went away and was joined in the late 1990s by the New Beetle (also a hatchback), and in the close-enough category, Saturn, Subaru and Suzuki sold wagon versions of their respective S-Series, Impreza and Esteem/Aerio around that time.

Now, of course, there’s a healthy appetite among Canadian buyers for subcompact and compact hatchbacks, so the moment is right for Honda’s return to the segment it helped to create here. We reached out to Honda Canada for a comment, but hadn’t heard back by publication time.

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