Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) is bringing back a car model to the country, which saw reasonable levels of success during its first run here. We’re talking about the 10th generation Civic sedan, which is being rolled out across the country this month. The Civic is Honda’s longest running automotive nameplate, and happens to be the largest-selling model from Honda at present, globally. Auto Tech Review was invited by HCIL to drive the new 10th generation Honda Civic sedan in and around Bangalore. We bring you all that you need to know about the company’s first launch of 2019.
The new Civic has bold exterior design characteristics, with the front facia displaying the distinct Honda wing design in chrome with the emblem, flanked by the company’s signature lighting. The front emphasises the brand identity, making it a car easily recognisable as a Honda. The bonnet and bumper feature sculpted lines, which make the car look athletic as well as aggressive. The grill as well as the front bumper comes with ample amounts of chrome, which adds to the car’s sophisticated appearance. The car’s full LED headlamps and fog lights as well as the upswept LED DRLs provide a tasteful look, with the addition of the side marker lamp on the bumpers maintaining improved visibility of the vehicle.
Move to the side of the car, and what becomes immediately apparent is the notchback-like silhouette of the Civic, which makes the car look more like a coupé than a sedan. The roofline begins to rise from the front windshield and starts drooping downward immediately, to provide the coupé visual effect. The body panels feature well-contoured creases on the side that result in the sporty appearance of this rather large car that is 4,656 mm long. The side profile also showcases numerous chrome bits splashed onto the body for the door handles and the window sills. However, the dual-tone 17-inch alloy wheels in chrome and grey have a design element seen usually in hybrids, which stand out to form a major part of the car’s design element.
At the rear, the new Civic has a rather large tail lamp cluster with its top being integrated into the boot lid. The full-LED rear lights make this 1,799 mm car appear wider, and shorter than its overall height of 1,433 mm, gelling well with the overall design. The rear bumper is a bulky piece, which features a few lines to create a visual distraction from its excessive size. One design element that could have received better treatment is the faux air dam on the rear bumper, which looks out of place in this otherwise well-designed car.
The 10th generation Honda Civic is being offered with two engine options – the new 1.8 l petrol unit and, for the first time, with a diesel unit as well. The petrol is a 1,799 cc, four-cylinder, SOHC, i-VTEC unit that is good for delivering maximum power of about 139 hp at 6,500 rpm, along with peak torque of 174 Nm at 4,300 rpm. This petrol engine is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that is offered with paddle shifters. This petrol engine is claimed to deliver a fuel efficiency rating of 16.5 km/l.
Meanwhile, the Civic’s diesel unit is the same one that had been launched recently in the new CR-V SUV. It is a 1,597 cc, four-cylinder, DOHC, turbocharged i-DTEC diesel engine that delivers about 118 hp of power at 4,000 rpm, and 300 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. This engine comes with a six-speed manual transmission and returns a claimed fuel economy of 26.8 km/l, which is best-in-segment.
The Civic’s petrol variant is smooth to drive, providing linear power delivery. The CVT shifts between gears smoothly, without the typical rubber band effect that is characteristic of such transmissions. The engine is smooth and quiet even when driven hard; however, the same is not the case with the CVT. The whine of the CVT is evident inside the cabin, which is otherwise a quiet place to be. With regards to the diesel engine, it is the same Honda Earth Dreams Technology unit that has been offered in the new CR-V. The engine is refined, but still has the clatter associated with diesel powertrains. The engine noise is relatively low inside the cabin, but still feels loud as the engine turns beyond 1,500-1,750 rpm. While the vibrations and harness are controlled inside the cabin, sound insulation from engine noise could have been better in the car.
The six-speed manual transmission that the diesel variant is equipped with is a slick unit with short throw for the gears. This transmission, clubbed with the light clutch provides a comfortable driving experience, which could be the case even in city stop-and-go traffic condition. A point to be noted about the diesel engine is that although it boasts of 300 Nm of peak torque, this is not available at low engine speeds. This necessitates frequent downshifts of gears when slowing down, say at speed bumps or at crawling traffic scenarios.
INTERIORS & TECHNOLOGY
The new Civic features a premium sedan stance that is low and wide, with claimed class-leading interior space – an outcome of Honda’s ‘Man Maximum Machine Minimum’ philosophy. The car’s 2,700 mm wheelbase ensures there is enough leg room inside the cabin, both in the front as well as the rear. The car has been designed to seat five adults, which it does well. However, the central floor tunnel in the rear, combined with the rear AC vent will make the rear centre seat the least comfortable seat.
Overall, the cabin feels well-spaced and airy, with large windows and sunroof adding to this effect. Although the car’s exterior design is in line with a coupé, the interior in different and offers enough headroom for rear seat passengers. The well-designed layout of the interiors also translates into cargo space of 430 l. In addition, the loading lip of the boot is relatively low, thus making it easy to drop heavy bags into the large cargo space.
The new Honda Civic features an all-black dashboard, with multiple types of materials in the form of matte-finished plastic as well as brushed aluminium bits. The quality of plastic as well as the way the materials have been put together are of top quality, with the presence of numerous soft touch panels and leather-wrapped bits across the dashboard and door panels. The Civic features perforated leather seats that allow better ventilation, along with an eight-way electrically-adjustable seat for the driver alone.
The car is equipped with a full-digital instrument cluster. It also comes with an electric parking brake system, push button start/stop with keyless entry and remote ignition. The new Civic features a dual-zone automatic climate control air-conditioning system with rear vents for overall passenger comfort. A highlight of the interiors is the seven-inch advanced touchscreen infotainment system. This system offers multimedia connectivity, along with smartphone connectivity for both Android and iOS operating systems. One factor that is missed in this system is satellite navigation, which has to be accessed through a mobile device alone. Honda has also taken numerous steps towards NVH to ensure what it claims to be class-leading quietness inside the cabin.
DRIVING DYNAMICS & SAFETY
The new Honda Civic comes with a dual-pinion variable ratio electric power-assisted steering system that is well-weighted across speeds, providing decent levels of road feedback to the driver. The car’s suspension system is made up of a MacPherson strut lower arm in the front, combined with an independent multi-link in the rear. The suspension system takes on bumps and undulations in the road extremely well, and quietly. This suspension set-up, along with the 215/50 R17 tyres and all-wheel disc brakes enable a well-planted drive across different types of road conditions and keep the drive composed even when driven hard.
A pain point of the earlier model Civic offered in the country was the suspension being too soft, resulting in the car bottoming out at speed breakers and bad patches. Honda has addressed this issue with the new Civic, by tuning the suspension to offer increased ground clearance of 20 mm in the front and 15 mm at the rear, when compared to the global model. This feature is also said to address the suspension rebound; thus addressing the issue of scraping of the underbody or the overhangs. The silhouette of the new Civic comes from a design that brings together a higher balance between drag coefficient (Cd) and lift coefficient (Cl), thereby achieving dynamic performance.
The new Civic’s safety equipment consists of six airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, seatbelt pre-tensioner, ABS, vehicle stability assist, hill-start assist, emergency stop signal and four rear parking sensors. The car also features a blind-spot camera, auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror, wide-angle rear-view camera and speed alarm for added safety for the driver and occupants. The blind-spot camera is placed under the passenger-side outside rear-view mirror, and is activated either when the left indicator is activated, or can also be manually-activated.
In terms of exterior design, the various design elements have been tied together well to form a tasteful athletic body for this large car. Similarly, the interior comes with a clean and simple design language, which is easy to use as well as provides a certain level of sophistication to the outlook. The new Honda Civic is being manufactured locally at HCIL’s plant in Greater Noida, and is expected to be priced in the range of Rs 18-24 lakh. The Honda Civic may not be as much of a disrupter as it was when it was launched in India for the first time in 2006, but it is definitely a unique product on numerous fronts, when compared to other offerings in the segment.
TEXT: Naveen Arul
PHOTO: Joshua David Luther