2019 Honda Civic Review
Car Tested: 2019 Honda Civic; Road Test No. 1060; Test Location: Bangalore
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 21.09 - 27.13 lakhs
The new Honda Civic gets a bold new design, feature-loaded interiors and both petrol and diesel engine options
There was a time when Honda had truly understood the demands of the premium car market in India and had aligned their products accordingly. The Civic was the crowning glory in Honda India’s line-up. It had everything one wanted from a mid-size sedan and it became the de-facto choice in the segment. But as years flew by, the market conditions became unfavourable. The petrol prices shot high, the Rupee was falling in front of Yen and the smaller SUVs like the Renault Duster were being introduced in the market. With changing demographics Honda began concentrating on cheaper cars which began diluting the premium image of the company. A few years back, Honda admitted that it had to go more premium and one of the ways to do that was to re-launch the Civic.
The new Civic is not going to have it as easy as the previous car. The competition is intense and the market is flooded with SUVs which are cheaper and offer more. Luckily, for the Civic many Honda fans still remember the car and the Civic name has a considerable fan-following. The new Civic also comes with what it was sorely missing, a diesel engine to widen its appeal. Will it have the same charm as the older car and can it make the shrinking D-segment popular once again? Let’s find out.
Motor Quest: The Civic is an old nameplate being around since 1972. The Civic was launched in India in 2006 and it became an instant sales hit. Upon retrospection, it wasn’t hard to see why. The Civic had the cracking formula of terrific looks, superbly well-appointed interiors, smooth and rev happy petrol motor and that Honda badge which many considered as prestigious. The Civic, in its best year was selling around 2500 units a month - an unprecedented number in the segment. But eventually, due to various reasons, it had to be phased out and Honda began concentrating on cheaper cars. But such was the impact of the previous one, that Honda had to get it back. This time they have worked on the key shortcoming of the previous Civic and that is the lack of a diesel engine. Honda is hoping to recreate the magic with the new generation.
Exteriors - The 10th-generation Honda Civic comes to India in the form of a mid-cycle facelift and straight away it looks striking. The front has that in-your-face look that will go well with the Indians. The bold chrome grille is surely the highlight occupying the majority of the front portion. The beautifully detailed headlights and sharp contours for the foglight only up the style quotient factor in the low slung design, the Civic looks fresh and sporty.
The Honda Civic looks smart, elegant and has a lot of presence on the road
Attention to detail continues on the side where the body looks perfectly proportioned with lines flowing along seamlessly. The five-spoke 17-inch alloys look fitting to a premium car like the Civic and the glossy chrome-finished handle-bars add a dose of flair. Where the front is sporty, the side comes across as more elegant and that is just fine. What is very noticeable is the exceptionally well-executed fast-back sloping roof design which makes the Civic stand out instantly in the segment. At the back, while the boot is stubby, it seldom looks out of place. However, the boomerang taillamp looks a bit large but has an interesting design nonetheless. Unlike the headlights, the taillights are only partially LED. The bumpers and number-plate housings are well designed and especially from the rear three-quarters, the Civic looks very athletic. We can say, to an extent, that the new Civic has the magic of the old car in the style department. (The lower trims miss out on LEDs but get projector lamps and 16-inch alloys).
Interiors - The new Honda Civic continues to be a low-slung car so getting in is not as easy as say in the Skoda Octavia. But once inside, the pleasing beige with black theme looks premium and makes the cabin feel airy. The design is not as radical as the previous Civic but it looks refreshing in a Honda. The dashboard is slightly tilted towards the driver, the steering is chunky to hold and oh, yes you get the digital instrument cluster from the CR-V. The cabin looks driver-focussed and the low seating position, although not to everyone’s fancy, compliments the feeling.
The driver-focused dashboard and low-slung seats offers a sporty driving feel
The quality of materials at large is good and we particularly liked the stitching on the leather seats which looks like it belongs to a more expensive car. The plastics at some places could’ve been better. Where the Civic’s interior falls short is when it comes to ergonomics which is surprising considering the user-friendly interiors of most of their cars. The ports for HDMI, USB and the 12V charging socket are hard to reach and to access the USB port for the rear, one has to get into below the front centre armrest to access it. Odd.
The Civic comes with the necessary equipment which seems to be at par with the rivals. You get a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat and a smart key (which can be used to turn the engine on and off, operate the sunroof and power windows and open the boot) are standard. Other kit on the new Civic includes push-button start, automatic wipers and a fully-digital 7.0-inch MID in the instrument cluster that displays information including access to a connected smartphone’s phone book, call history and music, along with average fuel efficiency and the distance to empty.
The rear seat of the Honda Civic lacks space & leaves a lot to be desired
The rear seats of the Civic are a tad low and that is done intentionally to liberate more headroom in a car with a sloping roofline. This makes ingress and egress difficult particularly for the elderly who are likely to occupy the back seats all the time. When you sit in them, you don’t get the sense of space that you expect from a D-segment sedan. In fact, the City seems to offer more space. The legroom is adequate but no more and the headroom, though not very tight is still scarce. The hump of the middle seat is accentuated making it best for two and not three. The thigh support is average making long drives a bit tedious. It is surprising because Honda has always been the champion of carving out more space in a compact footprint.
Performance - Honda is offering the Civic in India with two engine options. Starting with the petrol, it’s the 1.8-litre unit that outputs 141 HP and 174 Nm. The engine is smooth and refined but the gearbox choice plays spoilsport as far as enthusiasm goes because it’s slow to respond, has the rubber band effect in the top-end and overall performance isn’t impressive for a Civic. The bottom-end isn’t strong and the more you rev the motor, the more it rewards you with progress. Redline comes in at 6500 RPM and the Civic petrol does have a good top-end, making a sporty snarl past 5000 RPM. A manual gearbox would have been really welcome in the Civic petrol as the engine is a gem but the CVT box doesn’t let one exploit the best out of this VTEC mill.
The manual gearbox on the diesel Civic is smooth but the CVT isn't exciting
Coming to the better engine on offer on the Honda Civic, it happens to be the 1.6-litre i-DTEC unit that also powers the CR-V but unlike the crossover, the Civic uses a 6-speed manual gearbox and not a 9-speed automatic. The oil burner lacks refinement, is vocal, more so as you rev it past the mid-range. It does excel in drivability with good low-end lunch, turbo lag being very well contained. Top-end is lacking but the engine is free revving and reaches 4800 RPM on the tachometer. The 6-speed gearbox is smooth shifting and the clutch is light too.
The Honda Civic is a frugal car, both engines get the option of an ECON mode for reducing fuel consumption and the ARAI rated mileage is a stellar 26.8 km/l for the diesel, the petrol manages 16.5 km/l. The cluster also changes the light from green to white when you get hard on the accelerator, thereby signifying when you are driving frugally. The Civic is equipped with low rolling resistance tyres and a low coefficient of drag which helps it be so frugal. That said, the gearbox should have been swapped with the petrol getting a manual and the diesel getting an automatic!
Driving Dynamics - Underpinned by the same platform that is also used on the CR-V and Accord, the Honda Civic is 22 kgs lighter and 25% more rigid than its predecessor. The suspension is on the firm side and handling is great, with body roll very well contained. It’s eager to dart into corners and inspires confidence too (thanks to the low seat). What is really a joy is the steering, it’s light at low speeds and weighs up nicely at high speeds, giving an abundance of feel and feedback.
The high-speed stability is good and the steering also offers good feedback
The stiffness of the suspension means that over bad roads, the Civic isn’t very compliant although, for the most part, ride comfort is good. The vehicle remains stable at high speeds and road noise isn’t much, you can hear the diesel engine clearly though. The Yokohama tyres are low DB ones and although silent, don’t offer the most grip, the same can be felt in the diesel due to the torquey motor which loves to spin the front wheels. The diesel Civic is slightly front heavy (it weighs around 55 kgs more than the petrol model) and is more prone to understeer too. The brakes offer good stopping power with the rear discs helping in quickly shedding speed. Honda has increased the ground clearance by 20 mm at the front and 15 mm at the rear, the car didn’t scrape on any speed breaker. At 126 mm (laden GC), the Civic has a 6 mm higher clearance.
Safety and After Sales Service - The new Civic is definitely a step-up from the older car when it comes to safety. You get the whole hog including ABS with EBD, ESP, Traction Control, 6-Airbags, Honda’s lane-watch and ISOFIX child seat anchorages. Agile Handling Assist (which uses the brakes on individual wheels during cornering) and hill-start assist as standard. What is good to know is that the India-spec Honda Civic has scored a full 5-star safety rating in ASEAN NCAP.
Verdict - The Honda Civic makes a comeback in the Indian market after a hiatus of 7 years! The 10th gen facelifted model is quite impressive and is a jack of all trades but unfortunately a master of none. It misses out on certain features, the ergonomics are far from perfect, the powertrains aren’t the best in segment either and Honda has gone more comfort than sport. In spite of the Civic looking very sporty, it doesn’t drive in the same vein with the CVT gearbox robbing away the VTEC magic. With Honda having priced the Civic at a premium over its Asian rivals, we believe the company will end up selling between 50-100 units a month and not 300 units which they envision to sell. A great product whose nameplate won’t be enough to justify a premium price as the market dynamics have changed completely with SUVs being the biggest threat to Honda’s most popular and top-selling model in the world.
* Attractive and refreshing design
* Well loaded interiors with premium components
* Punchy engines and decent ride quality
* Comes with a 5-star safety rating
What's Not So Cool
* The CVT gearbox is very lethargic
* Ergonomics and rear seat space could have been better
* Pricier than the competition
Alternatives: - Toyota Corolla Altis, Skoda Octavia, Hyundai Elantra
2019 Honda Civic Specifications
* Engine: 1799cc, 4-Cyl, Petrol | 1597cc, 4-Cyl, Diesel
* Power: 141 HP @ 6500 RPM | 118 HP @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 174 Nm @ 4300 RPM | 300 Nm @ 2000 RPM
* Transmission: CVT | 6-Speed MT
* Fuel Consumption: 9-11 km/l | 16-20 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol | Diesel
* Tyre Size: 215/50/17 (Front & Rear)
* Suspension: McPherson Strut (Front), Independent Multi-Link (Rear)
* Brakes: Disc (Front), Disc (Rear)
* Safety: 6 Airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP, ISOFIX
2019 Honda Civic Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 4656 mm X 1799 mm X 1433 mm
* Wheelbase: 2700 mm
* Ground Clearance: 126 mm (laden)
* Turning Radius: 5.85-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 47-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1300 kgs (P), 1353 kgs (D)
2019 Honda Civic
2019 Honda Civic Review
The 2019 Honda Civic looks very attractive and has some nice features too. However, few things could have been better, such as the quality of some plastics in the cabin and the transmission choices. Nonetheless, it is a comfortable car backed by Honda’s reliability but somehow its rivals in this segment make more sense unless the Civic is priced lower than them.