With the C-SUVs hogging almost the entire limelight, players in the mid-size sedan market have been witness to perpetually low demand. In spite of the current market dynamics, however, Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) has found it only appropriate to complete its sedan lineup by re-introducing the much-revered Civic brand with the tenth-gen model.
The eighth generation Honda Civic spearheaded Honda's D1-segment onslaught between 2006-2013. While it has been conspicuous by its absence for over five years now, it continues to enjoy a cult-like status, which has, quite understandably, set many excited about the arrival of the latest avatar. Apart from carrying the legacy of its predecessor, the new model will be tasked with outperforming well-sorted rivals like the Hyundai Elantra and the Skoda Octavia. Our new Honda Civic review should help you find out if the new sedan can rekindle the excitement in the executive sedan space.
Sleeker, Sharper, and More Stylish
The tenth generation Honda Civic made its India debut at the Auto Expo 2018, but the model that will finally hit the market is actually the mid-cycle facelift that debuted in August last year. The refreshed version carries a handful of subtle updates to lend the global-bestseller an even more aggressive visual package while enhancing the premium feel.
The new bumper with C-shaped chrome appliques emphasises the wide track, while the sleek LED headlamps with stylish L-shaped LED DRLs lend the front facade an upmarket look. Internationally, the Civic features a piano black finish on the front grille, but the Indian version gets a dollop of chrome to suit the local preference.
The side profile is where the aesthetics of the new Honda Civic take a radical departure from the convention. The coupe-like roofline, a rising beltline, and the crisp surfaces help the car stand out. Furthermore, the flush-fitting side indicators, chrome appliques on the door handles and around the greenhouse, and the sporty dual-tone alloy wheels amplify the boldness. At the rear, things get really interesting, for the distinct fastback design, along with the stylish boomerang-style LED tail lights, reeks of sportiness.
Stylish, Well-built and Feature-laden
Back in the day, the earlier version of the Civic won a lot of brownie points for its futuristic and well-built cabin. The interior of the new Honda Civic is a step up in every department. It offers the right balance of practicality, creature comforts, and several driver-focussed touches.
The thin A-pillars, along with the 8-way electric seat adjustment, help the driver easily obtain a good view of the road ahead. The snug-fit front seats are highly supportive and offer just the right amount of bolstering to keep you from sliding around during hard cornering. Similarly, the rear seats offer exceptional comfort, but the steeply raked roofline and the prominent transmission tunnel make things a bit cramped.
The new Honda Civic is brimming with many safety, and comfort-enhancing features, including an electric sunroof, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment unit with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, dual-zone climate control, remote engine start, 6 airbags, hill start assist, vehicle stability assist and the Honda Lane Watch blind spot display system. The cabin offers several storage spaces for the knick-knacks. While the new car seems to have an Octavia-like notchback, it actually gets a conventional boot lid. The boot space, at 430-litre, is even lesser than City's 510-litre but has a low loading lip and a wide opening for easy access.
Refined and Composed
The lack of a diesel engine option proved to be the Achilles heel for the earlier Civic, but this time around, Honda's D1-segment contender will be sold with a gasoline motor as well as an oil-burner. The former is the familiar 1.8-litre R18 SOHC i-VTEC from the previous Civic, albeit, in a re-tuned and a BSVI-compliant format. It outputs 141 PS/174 Nm and comes mated to a CVT. Its ARAI-certified fuel efficiency has been rated at 16.5 km/l. The diesel alternative comes from the CR-V and offers 120 PS and 300 Nm. It's available exclusively with a 6-speed manual transmission and provides an astonishing 26.8 km/l in ARAI test cycle.
While the Civic impresses with an exciting design and a well-built, feature-laden interior, it's when you start driving the car that you realise that it has evolved into a much more matured offering. The refined and rev-happy petrol motor should impress you with its smoothness and torque-spread, but the CVT's characteristic rubber-band-effect will be quick to act as a big dampener. That said, the transmission does offer lag-free performance and won't miss a beat during city driving or highway cruising, but the proverbial boy racers will be disappointed by the lack of a more responsive transmission. The only saving grace here is that the steering-mounted paddle shifters help you override the electronics to a certain extent.
Surprisingly, it's the diesel version that's more fun. With the turbo lag below 2,000 RPM notwithstanding, the punchy diesel motor, which comes mated to a smooth-shifting short-throw 6-speed manual transmission, is a willing companion for the driving enthusiasts. Keeping the oil-burner in the meat of its powerband rewards you with a strong performance that makes the diesel version more involving to drive than its somewhat drab petrol sibling. The light clutch action and well-thought gear ratios ensure pottering around on the city streets isn't too much of a task.
Based on the Honda compact global platform, the tenth-gen Civic offers remarkable driving dynamics. The new car provides occupants in both front and rear with a comfortable ride, with only the sharpest of the undulations making their presence felt. The multi-link rear suspension plays a vital role in enabling this car to exhibit a great composure over most surfaces. Furthermore, the excellent handling characteristics make the new Civic a lot of fun in the corners. The body-roll remains minimal even on high-speed cornering, and the brakes offer a sharp bite. The Yokohama dB tires offer a high grip level. The steering is responsive even to the minutest of corrections but doesn't gain enough weight as speeds rise.
The new Honda Civic will launch on March 7 and is likely to be sold in a price bracket of INR 18-24 lakh. While this would make it a tad pricier than immediate rivals, it should come across as a more well-rounded product with flamboyant aesthetics, an upmarket cabin, refined petrol and diesel engines, and matured driving dynamics. True, the petrol version isn't the ideal choice for the driving enthusiasts, and the sloping roofline leads to a slightly cramped rear. But this shouldn't keep you from putting your money on a car that is not only a remarkable improvement over the previous model but offers an overall package that should appeal to a wide range of car buyers in this price segment.