The Honda Civic brand has a great following worldwide and found many admirers in India as well. This is despite the carmaker selling only one generation (eighth) of this sedan in India between 2006 and 2012. Now, Honda has breathed new life into the Civic after more than six years and revived it in a sporty yet elegant avatar. This tenth-gen iteration is now offered in a choice of 1.8-litre petrol-CVT trim and a 1.6-litre diesel manual version. The latter is what many Indians wanted and is now what they get. The convenience of the petrol automatic and the greater fuel efficiency of the diesel is what most customers will be looking at. So how does the Civic fare at that? Our detailed road test will explain that.
Design and style
The old-gen Civic looked striking and definitely felt ahead of its time then. This newer one also follows a futuristic approach but it has also grown and matured in its design. The sharpness in appearance that marked the previous generation has been retained. But it also bears an angular front and a coupe-like roofline, and rides on stylish dual tone five-spoke 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels. The racy stance is primarily due to the fastback-style sloping roofline that converges at the boot, surrounded by swanky C-shaped LED tail lamps. In fact, the Civic looks its glamourous best at the rear and definitely warrants a second glance.
This is a low-slung car and getting into it requires a bit of effort, especially at the rear. But once in, it's clear how beautifully Honda has maintained a balance of sportiness and luxury. The cockpit-style design, long central tunnel nicely bifurcating the driver and co-passenger space, dark grey tone for the dash with soft-touch materials, smartly stacked touch screen system and ivory leather upholstery, all complement each other well and give it an upmarket feel. Both the front and rear seats are comfortable and the cabin space is generous too. However, despite possessing ample rear legroom, the sloping roofline has left lesser headroom, especially for a six-foot tall passenger. Also, rear windows are small, thereby limiting the outside field of view. That said, four occupants in the car will be comfortable even on a long drive. A middle passenger in the rear seat is strictly not recommended as the high transmission tunnel will create a problem in foot-space.
Now, though the cabin is ergonomically sound, the USB ports and 12V outlets are difficult to reach. For the first time, probably everyone will fail to figure where the ports are. Also just to remind you, the old Civic had audio controls in the rear arm rest, but sadly the new Civic misses out on it. In fact, the rear passengers don't even get a dedicated 12V outlet, forget USB ports. Otherwise, the car scores well on practicality. The central tunnel holds a lot of stuff thanks to the under-arm deep storage space and double layered design to accommodate a mobile phone and cup holders too. Then again, the 430-litre boot is incredibly deep and wide enough to hold a lot of luggage.
Safety and equipment
This 2019 Honda Civic comes equipped with an easy-to-use 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android. Even the instrument cluster gets a 7.0-inch unit but it isn't ground breaking as the one in the old Civic, which was way ahead of its time. Then, this car boasts of many more features that add to the convenience, key of which include an eight-way adjustable driver's seat, electric sunroof, cruise-control and dual-zone climate control. In fact, the petrol automatic also gets a smart feature to start or switch off the engine through the key fob. This helps in pre-setting the cabin temperature before entering the car. Even on the safety front, it gets a respectable safety suite with an ASEAN NCAP five-star rating. This package includes six airbags, ABS, EBD, stability control and hill start assist along with some segment first features like the lane watch camera assist and electric parking brake.
Engine, Performance and Braking
Like the older Civic, the new one also derives power from a 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol engine that churns out 140bhp and 174Nm of torque. This time though, there's no manual and it only comes mated to an automatic (CVT) gearbox. Unquestionably, the motor is really silent and refined. It certainly feels quick off the mark, but does take more time than expected to make progress after that. To put it in perspective, it took 11.66secs to reach 100kmph. Besides that, the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph roll-ons in kick-down, a good indicator of drivability, was accomplished in 6.94secs and 8.76secs.
It’s obvious that these figures aren’t spectacular, especially when compared to the Octavia, and we owe it to the CVT gearbox that plays spoilsport in the role of extracting the best from this motor. This is exactly where you miss a manual gearbox. Although the CVT box has seven steps with paddle shifters, it just can’t translate into a quicker driving experience. At higher revs, the CVT's 'rubber-band' effect is evident but it still remains one of the smoothest. It complements the linear power delivery of the engine and provides a relaxed drive in the city.
Now, for the oil-burner, the 1.6-litre ‘Earth Dreams’ unit is the same that debuted in the CR-V in 2018. In the Civic diesel, it's only available with a six-speed manual transmission. Thanks to the excellent NVH levels, there's impressive isolation from the diesel clatter. However, it is audible higher in the rev band especially when it can rev almost up to 5,000rpm. Although the power output of 119bhp and 300Nm doesn’t really match up with the racy looks of the car, it’s adequate enough to pull off a reasonably quick 11.81secs for the 0-100kmph sprint.
Again, there's no distinct mid-range punch but here the manual gearbox with short throws slots well and helps in quick shifting. Furthermore, the torque helps, as seen in our in-gear acceleration tests. It does the 20-80kmph run in third in 13.69secs and takes 15.42secs to accelerate from 40-100kmph in fourth. Don't expect a lightning performance with this tall gearing. Also, the clutch is still a little heavy which might be a pain in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Otherwise, there's enough bite and feel from the brake pedal. Our braking tests proved that both the petrol and diesel versions, despite being more than 1.3 tonnes, stopped assuredly from 100-0kmph in under three seconds.
Ride and Handling
The Civic was always known for its sharp handling and the new one's steering is quick too. Sure, a 5.85m turning radius isn't particularly tight for this lengthy sedan. However, the light steering makes up for it. Also, it's easy to manipulate and weighs up sufficiently at high speeds. While taking corners back to back, even the long sweeping ones, it gives an excellent feedback and is good enough to inspire confidence in the driver. The well-balanced chassis helps its case further.
Honda has used an independent multi-link suspension set-up at the rear, while the Civic gets MacPherson struts at the front. This set-up is nicely tuned for our road conditions despite offering a flat ride at high speeds. It manages to isolate the jolts from potholes at slow speeds and the body roll is negligible. Earlier, Civic owners complained about the car bottoming out and this time Honda has taken good care of this. The raised ground clearance of 171mm and the 17-inch wheels tackle most of the obstacles that come in its stride with ease. In fact, even with four people aboard, the car absorbed speed bumps without scraping the underbody.
Price and Fuel Economy
The petrol CVT is available in V, VX and ZX trims ranging between Rs 21.09-25.13 lakhs (on-road Mumbai). On the other hand, the diesel comes in VX priced at Rs 24.73 lakhs and the top-spec ZX variant at Rs 26.87 lakhs. While the petrol delivered a fuel economy of 9.64kmpl in the city and 12.89kmpl on the highway, the oil-burner was, as expected, better with an efficiency figure of 12.39kmpl within the city and 17.65kmpl on the highway.
There's no other car in this segment that looks as snazzy as the Civic. It might not fulfil an enthusiast's expectations of outright performance, but it's fun to drive. Its cabin is comfortable, well-appointed and the car does its daily driving duties well. Sure, it might not be the best chauffeur-driven car in its segment, but it's the one you would want to and love to drive. It's definitely something more than just your regular executive sedan.
Pictures by Kapil Angane
|CAR NAME||Honda Civic||Honda Civic|
|Variant||ZX Petrol CVT||ZX Diesel|
|Installation||Front, transverse||Front, transverse|
|Displacement||4 cyls, 1799cc||4 cyls, 1597cc|
|Power||140bhp at 6500rpm||119bhp at 4000rpm|
|Torque||174Nm at 4300rpm||300Nm at 2000rpm|
|Power to weight||107.69bhp per tonne||88.15bhp per tonne|
|Torque to weight||133.84Nm per tonne||222.22Nm per tonne|
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Kerb weight (measured)||1300kg||1350kg|
|Tyres||215/55 R17||215/55 R17|
|Type||Rack and pinion||Rack and pinion|
|Type of assist||Electric||Electric|
|CAR NAME||Honda Civic||Honda Civic|
|Variant||ZX Petrol CVT||ZX Diesel|
|PERFORMANCE & BRAKING|
|20-80kmph in kickdown/3rd gear||6.94s||13.69s|
|40-100kmph in kickdown/4th gear||8.76s||15.42s|
|Tank size||47 litres||47 litres|
|Seat base length||500mm||500mm|
|Boot||430 litres||430 litres|
|Loading lip height||680mm||680mm|