2019 Honda Civic Review — Has The Magic Returned?

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The Civic is the oldest badge in Honda's lineup that is still going strong today. The journey started way back in 1972 when Honda replaced the N600 with the Civic and since then, the name has graced 10 generations of cars. In 2006, the eighth generation of the Honda Civic drove its way into India and became an instant hit with driving enthusiasts in India.

The 8th-gen Civic had the low-slung design of a coupe along with a futuristic interior and a powerful engine (for its time) that combined together to make the sedan an instant classic among driving enthusiasts. Now, nine years after the 8th gen Civic left our shores, Honda has bought back the iconic sedan to India. So is the new 10th-generation 2019 Honda Civic worthy of the hype surrounding it or does it fall short of becoming another jewel in Honda's Indian crown? We drove the all-new Honda Civic in Bangalore to find out the answers.

Design

The India-spec 2019 Honda Civic is the facelifted version of the sedan that was shown at Auto Expo last year. Up front, the new Honda Civic features a chrome grille with the Honda badging front and centre. The chrome grille now extends towards the edges of Civic's front end and forms what basically amounts to eyebrows above the sleek headlamps. The Civic's headlamps are full LED units with Daytime Running Lights. The front bumper follows the aggressive lines of the grille and the lights and gives the Civic's front end a rather pointy look. It also features chrome surrounds for the LED fog lamps.

The sides of the Civic add to the sporty character of the car. The sculpted bonnet lines merge into the A-Pillar. They are mirrored by another set of character lines that emerge just near the boot and end up at the taillights. The swooping roofline gives the Civic a very sporty coupe-ish look. The wheel arches are quite buffed up as well and play host to a rather striking set of 17-inch alloy wheels. The wheel arches are further accentuated by the curvy character line that mirrors their shape. Connecting these wheel arch mirroring lines is another one that cuts across the door handles of the Civic sedan.

The rear-end of the Civic is dominated by the C-shaped taillamps. The tail lights are full LED units and give the rear of the Civic a rather unique look that like the front end attracts eyeballs wherever the car goes. The roof of the Civic gently curves into the boot of the Civic which features a small raised boot lip spoiler. The boot features a rather prominent Honda badge up its centre along with Civic badging on the left flank and variant badging on the right. The rear bumper too is sculpted, though that is more visible in any other colour than the new white shade seen below.

The Cockpit

The interiors of the Civic feature a mostly dark theme, which is broken up by the ivory leather upholstery of the seats. The dashboard and the upper panels of the doors feature soft-touch materials which give the Civic a rather premium feel. The dashboard itself features a strip of metallic trim that breaks the monotony of the dark colour favoured by Honda for the dash. The glove box of the Honda Civic is quite large as well and looks like it could easily accommodate a large tablet with ease.

The 2019 Honda Civic features a large three-spoke steering wheel which is wrapped in leather. The left spoke of the steering wheel sports controls for the infotainment system and allows drivers to make phone calls. The right steering wheel spoke features buttons for the cruise control system. The petrol variant of the Civic also sports paddle shifters, though that does seem odd due to the presence of the CVT gearbox (more on that later).

The instrument binnacle is divided into three rather distinct sections. The centre section features a large tachometer with a digital display underneath. This display shows everything from the Civic's current speed to the name of the contacts listed on a connected mobile device. Flanking the tachometer are the coolant-temperature gauge on the left and fuel-level gauge on the right.

The centre console of the Honda features the 7-inch infotainment display followed by the controls for the climate control system. Underneath is a dual-level tray that can hold smartphones. However, the connecting ports for smartphones are placed further back along the central spine and are not easy to reach at all.

After this, you'll find the gear shifter and no matter which gearbox you end up with, the eco button will be found to the left and the parking brake and brake hold units on the right. Behind the buttons is the central armrest underneath which is quite a large storage space and a USB port.

Stereo And Infotainment

The Infotainment system of the Honda Civic is controlled by a 7.0-inch touchscreen display that can be controlled by both touch and buttons. The display can also be used to tweak the climate control setup. The touchscreen also acts as the display for cameras for the lane watch setup (fitted onto the side of the left ORVM) and the parking unit fitted on the boot.

The 7.0-inch touchscreen unit offers connectivity options for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay along with the usual Bluetooth and USB connectivity. The infotainment system of the new Honda Civic is connected to a 160-watt audio system. The audio setup features four 6.7-inch full range speakers, one in each front door and two in the rear deck. The other four units are tweeters that can be found on the A-Pillars and the rear deck. The Civic's audio system is quite loud and the listening experience of the 8-speaker setup is quite enjoyable no matter what track you end up playing.

Practicality, Comfort And Boot

The front seats of the all-new Civic are quite a comfortable place to be in. The seats are nicely bolstered and offer good support. The seats are mounted quite low to the floor and the driver's unit is offered with electric adjustment. However, the low mounted seats (including those at the rear can make ingress and egress a bit of a chore. Another bugbear is the central armrest which gets in the way of spirited driving as your elbow does end up hitting it more often than what one considers normal.

The rear seats of the Honda Civic are quite a nice place to be. While Honda advertises the Civic as a five-seater, it is best enjoyed with two passengers at the rear. Honda claims class-leading levels of legroom and knee room is no issue either thanks to the scooped out front seats. However, the coupe-like roof design means that headroom for taller passengers at the rear ends leaves quite a bit to be desired.

The electrically operated sunroof gives the cabin of the Civic a much more roomy feel. The sunroof also features a manually operated blind which blocks out the sun on those blisteringly hot days, where you wish to avoid our closest star.

The interiors of the 2019 Civic feature cubby holes and storage spaces galore. The door pockets can accommodate litre-class bottles of water and the space underneath the central armrest up front is quite spacious as well.

The boot of the 10th generation Honda Civic offers 430-litres of space. The load lip isn't too high so loading and unloading bags aren't too much of an issue. The Civic can easily take a weekend's getaway worth of bags for the family in its trunk and there is even a full-size spare wheel under the floor along with the toolkit. However, those looking for extra loading space will be left disappointed as the rear seats don't fold on the Civic.

Engine, Performance And Driving Impressions

The all-new 10th generation Honda Civic is offered with two engine and gearbox options including a diesel powerplant, for the very first time in India.

The 1.8-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine is one that Civic fans in India will easily recognise. This is the same unit that was seen on the previous Civic sold in India, however, Honda has made quite a few tweaks to this venerable powerplant with regards to the intake and exhaust manifolds among others to make it more powerful and frugal.

The 1.8-litre engine, which is now BS-VI compliant, kicks out 138bhp @ 6,500rpm and 174Nm of torque @ 4,300rpm. The petrol engine is only offered with a CVT automatic transmission as Honda has ditched the manual gearbox option for this engine worldwide. The engine has an ARAI-certified mileage figure of 16.5km/l.

This is a shame as the gearbox is what turns out to be the Achilles heel of this powertrain. The rubber-band effect of the CVT is quite noticeable when you push the revs up. The mid-range falls flat and the CVT creates a rather annoying drone which makes you want to shift down every time you hear it. This means that you don't want to end up on the higher end of the rev spectrum where this engine really sings its heart out.

We really wish Honda ends up offering this petrol engine with a manual gearbox. However, if that is too much to ask, we hope they consider bringing the 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine slotted in international versions of the CIvic to India.

The 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel engine, a first for the Civic in India, is the same unit found on the CR-V. The engine cranks out 118bhp @ 4,000rpm and 300Nm of torque @ 2,000 rpm. The diesel engine is paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox in the CIvic and returns a class-leading ARAI-certified mileage of 26.8km/l.

The Civic's diesel engine is quite a good cruiser but it takes some time to build up the turbo boost, which was rather noticeable when driving up the steep inclines of Nandi Hills near Bangalore. Shifting down a gear is the only option to avoid stalling if you find yourself under 2,000rpm thanks to the lag and the taller gearing. Under the 2,000rpm mark, the Civic diesel struggles even with the loud pedal pancaked to the floor. However, if you work within the limits of the engine and gearbox, then the Civic diesel can cruise with the best in the business.

Show the Civic a corner and the new sedan starts showing off the reasons why the old model charmed the nation's motoring enthusiasts. Pushing the Civic through the corners is quite a joyful experience as the chassis lives up to the expectations put on it. Aiding and abetting the chassis is the sharp steering setup, which weighs up delightfully and allows drivers to enjoy the bends.

The Civic's ride is a lot more pliant compared to the previous model that stepped into India. The Civic rides over ruts and bumps with ease thanks to finely tuned suspension setup despite its rather large 17-inch wheels that are fitted with 215/50 R17 tyres. Honda has raised the ride height of the Civic by 20mm for India, compared to international models, which means that the underbody getting scraped on speed humps can now be consigned to the back pages of Indian car history.

Key Specifications

Powertrain

  Petrol Diesel
Displacement 1799cc 1597cc
Power 139 bhp @ 6500 rpm 118 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Torque 174 Nm @ 4300 rpm 300 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Fuel Efficiency 16.5 km/l 26.8 km/l
Transmission CVT 6MT

Dimensions

  Petrol Diesel
Length 4,656 mm
Width 1,799 mm
Height 1,433 mm
Wheelbase 2,700 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity 47 litres
Kerb Weight 1,300 kg 1,353 kg
Seating Capacity 5
Boot Space 430 litres
Turning Radius 5.85 metres
Tyre Size 215/50 R17

Safety And Key Features

Honda has packed the all-new 2019 Civic with a host of features including ABS with EBD, 6 airbags, electronic parking brake, brake assist, automatic brake hold, ISOFIX mounts and Hill Start Assist. The new Civic also sports a lane watch camera on the left ORVM and a rearview camera for assistance while parking.

Dennis James Thinks!

The arrival of the 10th-gen Honda Civic marks the return of an iconic name to the Indian car market. As an overall package, the 2019 Civic is a mix of looks and comfort that the chauffer-driven Indian wouldn't want to ignore and it still has the handling characteristics that made the 8th-gen sedan click so well with enthusiasts. However, I do feel Honda has missed a trick by not offering a manual gearbox for the venerable 1.8-litre petrol engine.

For now though, with prices expected to range between Rs 18 - 24 lakhs, the 2019 Honda Civic will still tick most of the boxes that buyers in this segment will look for in a new car. Plus those looks and that nameplate should bring the old-school fans back as well even if it means learning to live with the CVT.

What We Liked

  • Bonkers Design
  • Handling
  • Steering
  • Spacious Interiors (especially for regular folk at the rear)
  • Lane Assist System

What We Didn't Like

  • CVT gearbox
  • Laggy diesel engine
  • Ingress and egress issues due to the low mounted seats

Rivals

The all-new Honda Civic will go up against the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Skoda Octavia and Hyundai Elantra.

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Read more on: #honda #review
Article Published On: Friday, February 15, 2019, 22:42 [IST]

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