The Honda Civic is back! Yes, after skipping a generation, the Civic brand is making a comeback in the Indian market after a long duration of anticipation. The 10th generation Civic looks better than ever, is feature-loaded, safe and is fun to drive as well. However, the problem it'll face is that in the price segment around Rs 20 lakh is filled with SUVs and there are more of them incoming. It's well-known that SUVs are a globally-emerging trend so the Civic will have a hard time making a case for itself. The only way it can do that is by offering an exceptionally well-rounded package at a competitive cost. We drove the car recently around Bengaluru to find out if the new Honda Civic has what it takes to turn the tide in favour of sedans.
How's it to look at ? 2019 Honda Civic Design
Oh well, damn! The new Honda Civic is a looker from every angle. The key takeaway from the design is its sharp and edgy styling. The front slopes down giving it a hunkered down and kinetic appearance. The sleek LED headlamps along with DRLs and a thick chrome slat give the car a sporty and premium appeal. The edgy bumper along with strong lines add to the dynamic character of the car's face. On the side, the sloping coupe roofline will grab the attention of most people first. Right after the B-pillar the roof slopes all the way to the tail lamp giving the car a coupe profile. The 17-inch alloy wheels have a sporty design and add to the fast-paced character of the new Civic. The 215/50 size of the tyre adds further to the sporty look with its slim tyre wall. It's the rear though that is my personal favourite, especially due to the tail lamps. Designed as the letter 'C' the sharp design looks futuristic and dynamic.
Overall, the new 2019 Honda Civic comes across as a car that not only looks impressive and sporty but bears a design that is widely appealing. The reaction of inquisitive and impressed onlookers made it clear that the Civic isn't a love it or hate it design. Most people will end up loving it irrespective of age and that's what is the new Civic's visual strength.
New Honda Civic Driving Experience. 2019 Honda Civic Engine & Gearbox
Civic has traditionally been known for its sporty performance, especially in the last few generations and the same was the case in India with the older model. The new Civic thankfully retains that character but has evolved further towards the luxury end of the scale. The engine options include a 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel engine with a six-speed manual gearbox and a 1.8 litre i-VTEC petrol unit with a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) gearbox.
For those wondering why there's no manual option with the petrol motor, Honda claims that more than 90% of buyers in this segment prefer petrol automatics. A diesel with a CVT is also possible like the Amaze but that's a decision the company will take based on market demand. The diesel engine, same as the one used in the CR-V develops 121 ps and 300 Nm of torque. The engine is refined and owing to impressive NVH insulation, the overall experience is quite smooth. Once past about 1,500 rpm the turbo spools up and thereafter there's a linear wave of acceleration available to ride on. The six-speed gearbox has been mated to the engine efficiently and the wide ratio gaps allow for good drivability but at times gearshifts might be needed more than expected and the car struggles to move from single digit speeds in second gear.
That said, once you're in the right part of the powerband reaching triple-digit speeds is a breeze and carrying out overtaking manoeuvres at those speeds also never left me struggling for power. Another impressive part is the fuel-efficiency, which at a claimed figure of 26.8 kmpl is the highest in its segment. During our short drive, despite being throttle happy around the winding roads of Nandi Hills, the system-indicated figure we got was an impressive 16.2 kmpl.
The petrol motor is an impressively smooth and refined unit and the CVT unit also works well in daily usage. The only problem is that if you try going fast or try and attack corners, the unit fails to keep up with the throttle inputs due to the rubber band effect. Although the engine is a capable unit, the CVT limits the performance you can extract from it when belting it really hard. In daily traffic and highway usage though, the unit works well and should keep most buyers happy.
In terms of handling, the Civic impressed us a lot and kept us happy through the twisty hilly roads. The suspension isn't as soft as the older model and hence body-roll is in control. The chassis feels happy to respond to a series of sharp turns and unsettling it isn't easy. Grip from the Yokohama tyres is good despite the fact that the tyres are primarily aimed at cutting down tyre-roll sound. The steering is direct and weighs up nicely and feedback too is there but isn't the best in its segment.
Ride quality is another area where the new Honda Civic shines. With a neutral setup and Macpherson Strut upfront and an independent multilink unit at the rear, the Civic offers a great balance between comfort and sportiness. Uneven surfaces and speed breakers are dealt with in an impressive manner by the suspension at cruising speeds and even at low speed, the occupants don't feel much of the undulations. With a ground clearance higher than the City and revised damping rates, the Civic manages to get over most speed breakers without scraping its belly so handling bad roads is easier now than the earlier model.
New Honda Civic Interior and Features
Once inside the Honda Civic, it doesn't take long to get impressed by the modern and premium cabin. The dashboard has a soft-touch top layer and the inserts do a good job of livening up the mood. Thankfully, the dashboard doesn't feature beige, which doesn't go well with a sporty car. The centre console houses a seven-inch colour touch screen and provides access to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The user interface is quite simple and the screen itself offers good visibility under direct sunlight also. What I think could have been better is the touch response, which isn't particularly quick with a slight lag in between the touch input and execution. That aside, the sound quality is quite nice and most people won't find it imperative to have aftermarket fitments.
The steering wheel with integrated cruise, audio and telephone controls feels nice to hold and looks premium. The instrument cluster design with its tripe display is quite eye-catching and the subtle colour treatment therein adds to the sophisticated feel of the cabin.
The centre console extends right down to the armrest as one unit and owing to its height, occupants will have enhanced comfort. The adjustable armrest can be flipped open to access a storage compartment with one USB point. There's one more in the second of the two-storey centre console compartments with 1.5-ampere output for quicker charging along with an HDMI point.
Space is expansive in the new Honda Civic and legroom won't be a problem for people taller than 6 feet also. Owing to the sloping roofline I expected compromised headroom but the low placement of the rear seat will ensure decent headroom for most people unless taller than six feet two inches. There's a cushioned armrest with two cup holders and rear AC vents to further add to the convenience.
Overall, the Civic's interiors are well-appointed and plush along with a great sense of comfort. Considering the features, design, impressive build and finish quality, it's easy to say that the new Honda Civic presently sports the best cabin in its segment.
New Honda Civic Safety
The new 2019 Honda Civic comes loaded with a rich list of safety features. ABS with EBD, six airbags, Traction Control with VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist), Hill Start Assist, Lane monitoring system, ISOFIX mounts and a rear parking display with multiple display modes and dynamic guidelines provide a great safety package. Add to it the fact that the Civic got a five-star rating in the ASEAN NCAP crash test and you get safety at par with segment standards. What remains to be seen is the variant packaging, which will be revealed at the launch.
Can the new Honda Civic be Successful?
Well, first things first, the ride isn't going to be easy for the new Honda Civic. Not because it isn't great but more so because buyers are in a, SUV-frenzy state right now. The car itself is impressive on all accounts and offers an exceptionally good package for buyers. More importantly, the car has evolved into the directions of luxury without giving up on its sporty character, making it apt for a wide user base. I personally am a bit disappointed by the absence of a manual gearbox with the petrol engine but the number of such buyers is too small to make any business case so can't complain much.
Overall, the new Civic checks the right boxes in almost every area and raises the bar in the design department. It is presently the best-looking car according to me in the segment and the most feature-packed and convenient too. The only missing piece in the puzzle is the price and I honestly have a mixed feeling about it. I personally feel the right range to be between Rs 18 to 21 lakh, ex-showroom. However, the car only has 30% localisation, making an aggressive price-point slightly unlikely. Hence, I say it's almost perfect but not completely yet as the prices aren't out yet.
That said, Honda Civic is 'THE' car right now that has the ability to infuse some life in its segment. The extent of its success though will depend a lot on the price because the key competition the Civic faces is not another sedan but a big list of compact SUVs.