2019 Honda Civic Review: Is “The Civic” back?

In this detailed first drive report, we try to answer all the questions regarding the comeback of the Honda Civic to India in its 10th generation avatar!

Is “The Civic” really back? Will it be able to match up to the success of its predecessor? Is it as feature-rich and premium as before? How well does it drive? Is the diesel Civic as refined as its petrol counterpart? Does the CVT gearbox in the petrol dull the whole experience? Will be it able to revive the D-segment? I know you must be having a lot of questions regarding the all-new 10th Generation Honda Civic and its comeback to India. I will try to answer them all in this detailed first drive review. Read along!

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Does the new Honda Civic look the part?

Well, yes it does! A sporty styling has always been synonymous to a Civic. And I am delighted to report that the 10th generation iteration takes the aesthetics a step ahead. There is no one singular angle which you can point out to be the best since the sedan looks quite stunning all around! But if you would ask me still, I would say that it is its side profile which shows its roofline which goes into a perfect coupe-like stance at the rear. Other major design highlights include the sharp headlights up front, the large dual-tone 17-inch alloy wheels, the sporty side-skirts which gels perfectly with its overall hunkered down stance of the car.

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Does it have the interiors to match?

The interior of the last generation Honda Civic was a nice place to be in. Not only because of the comfort and the quality but also because of its features and futuristic design. So does the new Civic match up? I would say that it does! The sporty and sleek design from the exteriors has been carried forward inside the cabin as well. The dashboard layout is sharp and is draped in an all black colour scheme. There are soft touch materials which add to the premium feel. While the contouring is done in such a way that it looks very sporty.

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The instrument cluster is a three-pod set-up with a coloured screen in the middle which displays all the vehicle-related information except the fuel and temp since you get two respective gauges for the same on either side. The infotainment system is a 7-inch touchscreen unit. It supports Apple Car Play and Android Auto. That said it does not offer an inbuilt GPS navigation system. All the materials used in Civic’s cabin feel high quality.

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It even comes with soft-touch materials on the dashboard and on the front doors. The seats a leather upholstered and are quite comfortable to be in. The front seats offer nice bolstering while the rear ones will be quite comfortable on longer journeys. That said, the sloping roofline does tend to reduce the headroom a little bit and could be a problem for six-footers. At the same time, though there is enough legroom at the rear, the bench is best suited for two adults since squeezing in a third can turn out to be slightly uncomfortable over longer journeys.

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Are the engines powerful enough?

This time around, Honda is introducing the new Civic in two different engine options. It has carried forward the 1.8-litre Petrol engine from the previous generation but with several tweaks and along with this you also get a Diesel engine which is a 1.6-litre unit carried over from the CR-V. The petrol engine produces 140 BHP along with 174 Nm of peak torque while the Diesel engine churns out 120 BHP along with 300 Nm of peak torque. The Petrol engine, in typical Honda fashion, is right up there in terms of its refinement. And has the required punch.

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However, it is paired with a CVT transmission. Yes a CVT! Now before you guys jump to conclusions let me tell you that this CVT is easily one of the quickest among the lot. It responds to your inputs and drops down the cogs when required. It even comes with a sports mode which helps you hold on the gears a little bit longer. All that said, there is still that rubber band effect which to some extent takes away the joy. However, if you want to just cruise along, in the city or out on the highway, this CVT is a breeze an smooth as butter.

The gear shifts are quite smooth, in fact, seem less and respond quickly to light throttle inputs. But if you are an enthusiastic driver, my suggestion would be that you go for the diesel Honda Civic. This 1.6-litre motor has the required punch and coupled with the manual 6-speed transmission is quick to respond to your inputs its CVT-petrol counterpart.

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That said, this engine has a rather flat midrange as the power is served up linearly which makes you miss the sudden acceleration when the turbo-kicks in. That said, this is perfect for a buyer who has a light foot and likes to just cruise along. The ease is further accentuated with the help of a light clutch. What is quite commendable is the refinement levels of the Diesel engine.

We have always been complaining about the coarse nature of Honda diesels but this 1.6-litre unit in the Civic feel quite smooth. The vibrations does seep into the cabin through the pedals but to a level that is acceptable. On the go, you really cannot tell if there is a Diesel engine under the bonnet unless you rev it up hard.

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What about the suspension and ride quality?

The ride quality of the new Honda Civic is quite good. The suspension absorbs bumps quite easily and is only audible when you come across a big one. The car feels quite stable at high speed and does not wallow or does any side to side movement if subjected to a series of undulations. The cornering performance of the new Civic is also quite commendable. The car feels properly sporty and behaves nicely around tight bend and hairpins. The same becomes even more enjoyable in the diesel variant thanks to a tighter suspension setup and the increased weight on the front wheels.

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Is it practical enough?

Yes, it is! The Civic implements Honda’s “Man Maximum and Machine Minimum” philosophy perfectly. The car is loaded up-to-the-brim with smart storage spaces and cubby holes. There are decent enough storage spaces in the door pads, on the central console along with a large enough glove box. The only gripe is the awkwardly placed USB slot. Even the boot space is quite decent at 430-L and can swallow you weekend luggage and then some more.

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Is it a safe car to be in?

The Honda Civic has scored 5-stars in the ASEAN NCAP crash tests. To add to that, it comes with several active as well as passive safety features. It offers 6-airbags as standard, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounts, Electronic Stability Control, Brake Hold to name a few.

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So should you buy one?

Well, I think if you are a ‘Honda Civic Fan Boy’ then you should definitely! The new iteration carries forward the legacy of the older model. It is smooth and refined, loaded with features, stunning to look at and puts a smile on your face when you drive it. By offering it in both Petrol and Diesel engines Honda has increased the practicality front. The new Civic then has what it takes to revive the stagnant D-segment. What remains to be seen are the price which will tell us if it will or not.

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