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.