The new 10th generation Honda Civic should be very good to mask the 5-year gap.
The Honda Civic is a car that needs no introduction in India. It was a sedan blessed with sleek styling, radical interiors, fantastic engine, and superb comfort. It took no time for the Civic to take off in India and in its best year, Honda was selling an unbelievable 2500 units a month.
The celebrations did not last too long. The Civic had a few shortcomings. The sedan was offered only with a petrol engine and that came across as being the biggest problem. The rising yen and high petrol prices in 2011-12 started the Civic downfall. Moreover brands like Hyundai, Skoda and Volkswagen had more capable, more modern and diesel-powered D-segment sedans. What was once an incredibly tempting car became the least considered car in that price bracket. In fact, the sales became so low that the Civic had to be discontinued in 2013.
The lack of a diesel engine was proving to be a great headache for Honda. The premium cars in the line up felt the most heat. In 2014, Honda launched the Amaze which had the 1.5-litre diesel unit. Sales of Honda began gathering pace and since then the automaker has concentrated more on its entry-level products.
The cars spanning out of the Brio platform like the Amaze did help increase sales but the upscale image of Honda was diluted. Hondas in India were synonymous with sophistication and kind of cars that wouldn’t look out of place when standing next to a BMW. All that was lost and Honda had very little to offer for a true enthusiast.
The company only recently admitted that they must go more premium. At the Auto Expo this year, the company announced the launch of the new generation CR-V and a relaunch of the Civic, thus hoping to make their presence felt in the premium segment.
Honda is launching the Civic after a half-a-decade gap. A lot has changed in these 5 years. The ever-growing demand for SUVs has made the D-segment shrink. The number of people going for mid-size sedans has reduced considerably because for the same price if not less they get a bigger, more practical and more versatile SUV. The SUVs like the Hyundai Creta and the Jeep Compass have more than enough appeal to attract people in large numbers. In 2006-07 when the Civic was launched there were no SUVs at this price point and the number of cars, in general, were far less to compete.
Honda top officials had stated that the Civic would be an ideal upgrade for the existing City owners. The trouble is people are no longer interested in staying with the same brand. Many customers are willing to switch brands and with brands like Jeep coming in with the excellent Compass, how can we blame them?
An absence of five years is a fairly long time but thanks to the legacy of the old one, many of us at least remember the Civic. How we remember the Civic is a car that excelled in every key area. The new Civic should be just as good if not better, only then does it have any chance of scoring in this segment. It should not merely be a car sitting above the City but something good enough to create a segment of its own. Remember the old Civic did that.
Squeals are rarely better than the books, movies or shows they succeed. Honda’s squeal to the Civic cannot afford to do that. The relatively long time in getting the Civic to India won’t be a bother if they bring the Civic in its full glory. The Civic must appeal to both a typical family-car buyer and a Honda enthusiast.
The 5-year gap frankly does not matter. What matters is the credibility of the product and how close it is to the old one. Honda hasn’t quite managed to hit the bullseye with the current generations of the CR-V and the Accord. The CR-V has a small diesel, a lacklustre petrol and is on the expensive side. The Accord knocks the door of the C-Class with its pricing and although it’s a hybrid, the pricing seems absurd due to the high taxes levied on CBU cars.
The 2019 Honda Civic has the all-important diesel engine. All it needs is an acceptable price tag and that Honda character. Having this will make the Civic stand out. We cannot expect this Civic to sell 2500 units a month but we can and are expecting the Civic to be a segment leader.
2019 Civic India Launch
-Honda has skipped a generation and half a decade to launch the Civic in India.
-The Civic is still a well-known name.
-In the last five years, we have seen an advent of smaller SUVs.
-The Civic needs to be an incredible product to match the SUVs and mask the five-year gap.