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New Honda Civic test drive in India
The Honda Civic is back in India, prepared to take the fight to the Škoda Octavia, Toyota Corolla Altis and Hyundai Elantra. The old Civic; the eighth-generation model, was loved for its sporty character, low-slung design, a futuristic cabin and of course the legendary 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol engine. It wasn’t perfect but back in the early 2000s, the enthusiasts couldn’t care less.

After a hiatus of eight long years, the tenth generation Civic (yes, we skipped a generation) is being launched in India which intends to fix everything that wasn’t right with its predecessor. And hopefully, it will revive the segment as well. Being a halo product for the company will also amplify the pride of ownership for those buying smaller Honda cars.

Exterior Design
The new Honda Civic looks stunning. The front design does resemble the Honda City and the Amaze, especially the nose and the single-slab chrome grille. It works for me but might not for some. I also like the detailing on the sleek all-LED headlamps of the top-end ZX trim I got to drive. The car has grown is size, being longer and wider than the eight generation model. It’s lower than before, and the swooping roof-line gives it an appealing, almost coupé-like fastback shape. The only hitch is that the seats are very low and getting in and out of the car is slightly taxing. The 17-inch chrome alloy wheels look futuristic and fill up the wheel arches well. The narrow rear design is dominated by a set of oversized boomerang-shaped tail-lamps with LED highlights. Overall, the new car design appears to be more premium now and the unconventional fastback design makes it stand out in the segment.

Cabin and Interior
Unlike the exteriors, the cabin is a lot more conventional. If you’re expecting a futuristic layout with a cockpit-like driver’s console (like the old Civic), don’t. The 2019 Honda Civic has a more straight-forward approach and the layout won’t prompt a whistle of appreciation. It doesn’t match some of its European rivals, but you’ll be pleased with the quality and finish it provides. Honda have been upping the cabin quality right from the new Amaze and the Civic is fairly upmarket. There’s ample soft-touch plastics and premium-looking brush-metal and faux wood highlights, and despite a few hard-plastic bits, the general quality appears to be fairly premium and durable.
Thankfully, the coupé-like profile doesn’t hamper cabin room, and there’s ample room for four grown-ups. The seats have decent bolstering and are pretty comfortable, but because of the shape and an intrusive transmission tunnel, accommodating three on the back seat is a push. Interestingly, there’s no headrest for the middle seat passenger either. The driver seat, however, is clearly the best part. You sit low and the seat is 8-way electrically adjustable, helping you find the ideal driving position. You can adjust the steering wheel angle and reach, as well, to make things perfect.

Engine and Performance
For the first time, the Honda Civic is being offered with petrol and diesel engine options. The petrol is the familiar 1.8-litre offering that makes 141 PS at 6,500 rpm and 174 Nm of torque at 4,300 rpm. It’s a super-refined motor without any hint of NVH and feels premium right from the moment you crank it up. For 2019, it has been tweaked to improve performance and meet the stricter emission norms, but much to our surprise, comes with a CVT only.
It gives little reason to complain if you’re driving with a light foot. The CVT is pretty responsive and reacts to the right foot fairly well. It also gets an ‘S’ or sports mode and steering-mounted paddles to toggle between the seven-step or gears, but it can’t replicate the excitement of a manual ‘box. Poke it hard and it reciprocates with the usual rubber-band effect with the engine revving hard and starts to sound coarse. But not much of this translates into sheer performance. The good bit here, as expected, is that the claimed fuel-efficiency has gone up to 16.5 km/l which is an improvement over the older Civic.

It won’t be wrong to say that the enthusiasts should turn their focus towards the diesel Civic. The1.6-litre i-DTEC produces a modest 120 PS along with 300 Nm of torque. In yet another surprise, the oil-burner is only offered with a six-speed manual gearbox. So, no manual in petrol and no automatic in diesel. Honda’s logic seems to be that the petrol car buyers will be mostly using the Civic within the city and hence would prefer the ease of driving and efficiency which the CVT can provide. The diesel-manual is probably aimed at the… er… petrol-heads.
The numbers on paper might not seem as impressive, but the diesel definitely isn’t a slack to drive. The engine is borrowed from the new Honda CR-V but instead of the nine-speed auto, it gets a six-speed manual. And since it weighs just 1,353 kg, which is great for a diesel car of its size, the Civic rapidly gather speed. There’s enough low-end power for quick getaways and ample torque in store to keep the momentum even in higher gears. The tall gearing aids you to maintain city speeds without the need of shifting to third gear. While the ample supply of torque at low-revs and the gear ratios help achieve a staggering fuel-efficiency figure of 26.8 km/l (claimed).


About the author: Sarmad Kadiri



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