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Overview

Honda Civic Vs Renault Fluence Vs Skoda Laura

The French have made their move, but is it as good as the long standing flavours of the Japanese and the Czech? AUTO BILD INDIA finds out…

Here are a trio of cars that come from three very distinct parts of the world – two in Europe and one in Asia. The newest kid on the block, the Renault Fluence, is French, the Skoda Laura is from the Czech Republic, but with a dash of German salt in it, while the Honda Civic represents Japanese sushi.

So why are we so bothered about from where they come from? That’s because I have a feeling that these three sedans demonstrate elements that are characteristic of each of the regions that they represent. Let's find out if our hunch is right.

Exterior & Interior

Honda Civic Interior

The two-tier dash on the Civic is the fanciest of the lot. A small steering with mounted controls adds to the fun factor. It also gets paddleshifters

Honda Civic Exterior

We begin with the Renault. In the 17th Century, French cuisine moved away from spices and on towards a lot of herbs and definitely topped up with some cream. Now if we look at the Fluence, it sure is striking but definitely not spicy. It is like the herbs! A large set of headlamps, a prominent logo on the bonnet and the fl owing nature of the shoulder line beginning from the headlamps and wrapping around the rear integrated spoiler only to return to the headlamp. The rear three quarter is where the Fluence looks the best from. Inside the Fluence is all about creamy bits as it has lots of equipment to keep your taste buds happy. The two-tone dash looks good but feels a bit plasticky. The instrument panel boasts of an analogue tacho with everything else going digital. You get a large steering wheel with controls for cruise control while audio and Bluetooth controls sit on a stalk behind the steering wheel. The seats are comfortable, but provide a lot more lower back padding than required. The glovebox too is weird with slots for stowage rather than one large bin. It also offers climate control with vents at the rear. Now the Fluence has it all, but to get in sync with the audio, Bluetooth controls takes some time. Feel of space at the back too is good, but the swooping roofl ine does make it a tad low on headroom.

Renault Fluence Interior

Fluence gets a very uncluttered dash with most buttons stacked up together and an information display in the middle. However it does take a while before one gets used to it

Renault Fluence Exterior

Compared to French cuisine though Japanese food is about subtle tastes garnished with stinging wasabi sauce. The Civic is just that! It is by far the best looking of the lot. The curves, the angles and the shapes are super futuristic. Swooping lines, a sporty low slung look says it all. When you step inside, it is evident that a lot of emphasis was given to dress up the meal too. The two-tier dash with a digital speedo on top and the tacho in the lower deck lit in blue looks great. The small steering packs controls for the cruise control although having controls for the audio would have been better. The Civic also offers a sunroof, which the others don’t. Space is found in plenty but thanks to the low slung stance getting in and out could be an issue.

Skoda Laura Interior

The Laura now gets a bit more shine inside, thanks to the silver trim. However it is still very basic, offering the least amount of kit among the three

Skoda Laura Exterior

The Czechs meanwhile believe in meaty bits. For them how the food looks is not so important. Hence not surprisingly the Laura looks the most sedate here. A long bonnet and a notchback design means that the Laura does the job well but it is not that beautiful. Inside, you get a black overtone and clear to the eye instrument panel. The seats are comfy and space is plenty. However the Laura does not offer a lot of equipment. Not even steering mounted controls. Indeed the cabin is functional, just like the food they have.

Engine & Gearbox

Honda Civic Engine

Honda Civic -1.8-litre petrol unit is smooth and easy revving in nature but is least powerful

The Japanese on the other hand believe in bringing alive the real flavour of ingredients. Hence the 1.8-litre i-VTEC motor with its ultra smooth and rev happy nature is a good fit. It loves to redline and loves the sporty chores in life. The 5-speed auto 'box too is quick to shift while paddleshifters behind the steering helps matters even more. The steering too is quick and precise. Indeed it’s just fantastic to flick the Civic around! The suspension though is on the stiffer end and has a tendency to crash into potholes, which does spoil the consistency of the meal a bit.

Renault Fluence Engine

Renault Fluence -2-litre petrol engine has enough grunt for the car to keep cruising

The French love to enjoy their food. They take their time to go through the courses gradually and top it up with wine every once in a while. The Fluence too is all about that! It packs in a 2-litre petrol engine which is a smooth operator. Now it may not sound very sporty but the 137bhp on tap makes the car sprightly nonetheless. As you can see, just like in France, fast food is available but not really preferred. So the Fluence will get to 100kmph from zero in 10.7 seconds but it's happier cruising. The CVT too is in the same tone – a bit slow. But put it into manual mode and shifts are quicker. The suspen sion too is on the softer side, just right for cruising. However it also shows traits of sportiness as it does hold on to its line around corners. The speed sensitive steering on the Fluence is a plus. At standstill, it lightens up making negotiating three point turns easy, but weighing up a bit as speeds rise.

Skoda Laura Engine

Skoda Laura -1.8 TSI motor (above) offers superb performance and acceleration. (Right) Getting in is the easiest in the Laura

The Czechs again are not the type to believe in glitter. They believe in the meaty bits and hence most of the Laura's meat is found under its bonnet in the 1.8-litre TSI motor. It's ultra smooth, offers a brilliant note to the ears and at the same time ensures that the Laura keeps most of the traffic, including some bigger cars, well behind it. The Laura's dressing comes in the form of its 6-speed manual gearbox which feels super smooth as it slots in and out of the cogs. The steering too is well weighed and at the same time offers the most feedback making it a joy to swing the car around corners. Complimenting it is the suspension which is firm and offers a superb blend of handling and ride quality. It might be a little heavy (in terms of fuel consumption), but the flavour (the driving bit) of this Czech delicacy is the best!

Dimension

Honda Civic (mm)

Honda Civic Overall Dimension

In profi le, the Civic displays the most dynamic and sportiest stance of the three

Honda Civic Boot Dimension

Civic gets a pretty deep boot with minimal obstructions, adding to usability

Renault Fluence (mm)

Renault Fluence Overall Dimension

Fluence's 16in wheels are larger than the Civic's but smaller than the Laura's

Renault Fluence Boot Dimension

Split seats make the Renault boot versatile. Lacks flat loading bay however

Skoda Laura (mm)

Skoda Laura Overall Dimension

The kneeroom offered in the Laura is the best among these three cars

Skoda Laura Boot Dimension

Notchback design of the Laura makes access to boot super easy

Scorecard & Verdict

Skoda Laura

Rank 1Skoda Laura- If it is performance you desire, look no further than this Czech delicacy. The smile will never fade.

Honda Civic

TwoHonda Civic- Best looking of the lot, it packs in performance as well. Recently added features give it a boost as well.

Renault Fluence

ThreeRenault Fluence - Not the best looker, but surely the one to go for if you want features. Performance as good as Civic.

Scorecard

Body: The Skoda scores high when it comes to interior space. Thanks to its dimensions, getting in or out is the easiest. Something which the Civic does not score very high on. However when it comes to safety, the Renault scores more points thanks to it sporting more equipment. Qualitywise too it scores well.

Drive: The Laura is once again the quickest of the lot. This is primarily aided by the fact that it sports a cracking manual transmission. This factor also it being very fuel efficient. However when it comes to driveability the Fluence scores the most and this is aided by the automatic transmission.

Comfort: The Skoda offers the best ride quality followed closely by the Fluence. The Fluence also boasts fantastic NVH insulation. But where it really scores is the fact that it offers pot loads of comfort equipment. Here the Skoda loses out by quite a margin to the French car.

Dynamics: The Skoda is the driver's car here. It might not offer the best of equipment, but if it's performance, steering and handling you are after, get the Skoda. The Civic too boasts a quick steering, which makes it a fun to drive car. The Fluence can only play catch up.

Cost: The Skoda is the cheapest to buy and the Civic and the Fluence are pretty close. However it is the Honda which commands the best resale value. The Fluence gains points thanks to its better warranty, which is also the case with the Honda.

Verdict

The Skoda Laura wins our shootout by a handsome margin, thanks mainly to its performance related ratings. It is the one with the best performance, the best steering and the best handling. The only place where it loses out is on the equipment front. It is as bare basic as it can get. However it is here that the Fluence scores some handsome points. However if you look at the price, the Laura is quite a bit cheaper than both the Fluence and the Civic.

 

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