Globally, The Civic has done it all, a petite hatchback, a fast sedan, a performance car for the streets, a tuner car, drag strips, an executive sedan, a hot hatch, you name it. Honda Civic is a name that has been around in the auto world since 1972, but it came to India much later in 2006.
It was the 8th generation of the Civic and it came as a D-segment executive sedan, which was never a high-yielding segment in India. But the Civic was not a conventional, dull sedan your doctor uncle drove to the clinic every day, it was simply different. This made the Honda Civic an instant hit followed by a dedicated fanbase in the subsequent years.
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2006 (8th-Gen) Honda Civic in India
The Honda Civic was the first car in India after the VTEC City that Honda had something
In-store for the diehard fans. The Civic, even though was no “OG VTEC” and was rather an “i-VTEC”. But the main reason for the Civic’s hype was never its motor (don’t get me wrong, it was a great engine), it was the design and overall proportions of the car. Fans loved the way the car looks, it was low slung, sharp, angular and aerodynamic, which is a perfect recipe for a fast tuner car. Despite the phenomenal looks in stock, over the years we have seen a lot of people slap on body kits like the Mugen RR giving it that JDM vibe. The Civic was low and driving it in the Indian road conditions meant that the car scraped its belly quite often. But the enthusiasts didn’t bother, the customisation journey of a Civic started with bigger wheels and a lowering kit making the already hunkered down ride further low. Sitting inside a Civic felt like sitting inside a high-end sports car since it was so low.
Speaking of being inside the Civic, the interiors of the 8th gen Civic were revolutionary, with its all-digital instrument cluster sitting at the top of the dash and sloping design for the centre console. The low-rise proportions of the car didn’t mean the seating was cramped, the Cabin was spacious enough since it was an executive sedan after all.
All these factors contributed a significant amount in making the Civic the icon which it is today in the Indian market.
2006 Honda Civic Performance
The first Civic in India came with 1.8-Litre, four-cylinder, i-VTEC, N/A petrol engine, with 130HP and 171Nm of torque. These were some serious numbers for a naturally aspirated petrol and it made the Civic capable of doing a 0-100 sprint in close to 10 seconds and a top speed of 190 Km/h. Mind you, that’s just stock, imagine the wonders the engine will do with after an expert and precise tuning. This motor was responsive, rev-happy and a driver’s delight. It came mated to both Manual and Automatic transmissions, but the manual was the favourite as usual.
And it wasn’t just the engine, Honda Civic is known to be a good handling car as well. It has good responsive steering, impressive grip around a corner, planted chassis and despite a soft suspension setup making it a bit tricky to drive on bumpy roads, the overall performance was good.
At Least for the few initial years of the Civic, no other car in the segment could match its performance.and this helped the Civic attain popularity and not just among the proper enthusiasts but also with people who liked a good driver’s car.
P.S: In the later years, the Civic also came with a hybrid variant, it had a 1.3-Litre, four-cylinder engine along with an electric motor. Due to poor faith of people in hybrid cars back in the day and also being way too overpriced compared to the regular Civic, the Hybrid Civic couldn’t churn out numbers for Honda and didn’t really leave a mark.
End of the road for the (8th-Gen) Honda Civic in India
Despite being one hell of a package, the Civic had started to show its age after 5 years post the launch. Honda came along with various minor updates for the Civic. But they just weren’t enough for the Mid-size Honda to retain its place in the segment. With brand new competition emerging from European competitors like the Skoda Laura with new tech and much more powerful engines and also having diesel engine options.
Not having a diesel in its lineup was the biggest drawback for Honda back in the day and the Civic was the worst affected. Diesel for being fuel-efficient while delivering a healthy performance became a more popular choice and the Civic had never been a fuel-efficient anyway.
Hence due to inadequate demand, the Honda Civic was rolled off the floors in 2013 after selling around 55,000 units from 2006-2013.
2019 Honda Civic | The Comeback
After skipping a whole generation, Honda decided to roll out the 10th generation of the Civic in India after a series of speculations and after the 10th gen had already been in the international markets for 3 years, in 2019. Fans were exhausted waiting for the next-gen Civic. But was their patience worth the while?
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2019 Honda Civic Design
Indians are familiar with the Civic as a sedan. Hence, this time as well, the Civic came as a mid-size sedan. Like the previous-gen, the design of the new Civic was sleek and sharp. This one had more angular design elements like the boomerang-shaped LED tail lamps and wraparound headlamps. The new Civic definitely plays the part of a new-age Civic when it comes to design and if I dare say it, the design is right up there with the previous generation.
The interiors of the new Civic were also radical and sophisticated enough with all the latest tech features and auxiliaries. This Civic is also bigger than the 8th gen which means a more spacious cabin. The biggest relief for the more practical buyers is the Ground clearance. At 171mm, it is not a very low machine and makes getting in and out of the new Civic a better experience than before.
The design of the 10th Generation Honda Civic is a better blend of sportiness and practicality.
2019 Honda Civic Performance
The new Civic is a good looking car, it doesn’t disappoint there. But where it falls shorter than the First Civic we’ve got here is Performance.
The 2019 Honda Civic comes with the similar 1.8-Litre Petrol, i-VTEC, making slightly more power @139HP and 174Nm of torque on paper. But the talking point is that this engine comes mated to a CVT transmission only. The CVT with its infamous rubberband effect is unable to translate the power figures on paper onto the road. The motor-transmission combo doesn’t pack the punch as before and seems lethargic and linear at times. The Civic is a great handling car still, no one can take that away from it.
Finally, the Civic comes with a Diesel engine option(BS6 update for which is slated for July 2020). It is the same 1.6-Litre, turbo-diesel found in the Honda CRV. This motor makes 120HP and 300Nm of torque while mated to a 6-speed manual transmission only.
Frankly, the diesel engines were never Honda’s strongest weapon in the arsenal and it also failed to succeed exponentially with the Civic.
How is the New Civic fairing in India?
With the market dominated by SUVs, the Mid-size executive sedan segment seems like it is being bullied by the chunky utility vehicles. Hence, it was already a bad space for the new Civic to bloom. The Civic is barely able to subsist with average sales figures(which however are better than other cars in the segment).
Only if the new Civic had been more performance-oriented than its predecessor in the country and the petrol would have come with a manual for the love of God. No can really fathom as to why Honda didn’t equip the petrol with a manual as there would have been a fair chance that it could’ve made the 1.8-Litre i-VTEC be itself and perform like it is supposed to. True fans of the Civic are still waiting for manual petrol on the new Civic, but it doesn’t seem it will be coming anytime soon.
The impact that the First Civic in India had on the Indian car market is still able to fetch the new-gen some considerable numbers. However, the Enthusiasm is still for the 8th gen Civic which is still a hot-seller in the used car market and is still considered one of the most successful mid-size sedans to ever step foot in the Indian car market.
Honda Civic TypeR in India?
Globally, the first Civic to get the Type-R badge was the sixth-gen Civic in 1997. Like the Current gen Civic Type-R, it was a Hot-hatch as well. Honda Civic Type-R has been a very popular name ever since it came out and the Current-Gen. The FK8 Honda Civic Type-R was the Fastest FWD car in the World until very recently. The latest Type-R comes for a retail price of 36,995 dollars in the U.S (which is close to 28 lakhs INR).
Sadly, India never had a market for performance Hot-hatches. Companies like Volkswagen did try to make a mark with the likes of the GTi in the Indian car market but they failed miserably. Hence, Honda in India never dared to bring the Type-R to India. The closest we ever got to a Type-R was the Civic Sports. It came with a body kit same as the 8th gen Civic Type-R sold internationally but had the same powertrain as the regular Civic.