For some Civic sense

WELL-DESIGNED With aircraft like dials, the Civic's dashboard sure is a departure from the average looking dashboards on offer aboard other cars in the same segment

WELL-DESIGNED With aircraft like dials, the Civic's dashboard sure is a departure from the average looking dashboards on offer aboard other cars in the same segment  

The Civic promises to be a rocking combination of visual and mechanical delight

After looking high and low for a name for its debut car the City, in 1998, followed Honda's big and muscular cousins the Accord, and the CR-V. This month Honda unveiled yet another car from its pack, the Civic. The new sharply styled Civic, not even a year old, sure has attracted quite a fan following and understandably so. After all, it is being spoken of as "the best car in its category". Seeming to belong to another generation altogether, perhaps never before have carmakers offered as much to the Indian car buyers as the makers of the Civic have. What is remarkable is that its launch has almost instantly; added years to the other cars in its segment making them look dated overnight. A modern looking saloon, lower slung, with a flowing design, and a hood, passenger compartment combined with a boot seem to compliment each other perfectly making the Civic a rocking combination of visual and mechanical delight.

Contemporary Interiors

With contemporary interiors and extra attention to detailing, the Civic's dashboard is such a break from the monotonous and mundane looking ones that are offered on other cars, in the same segment that this one looks strikingly different almost like an aircraft's cockpit. The radical, asymmetric central console, also adds to the jet fighter ambience. A blue digital display greets you when you enter the car ensuring that all the important information is right in the driver's field of vision. Keeping in line with the modern feel, the steering wheel fitted is a sporty one that feels chunky while gripped. A noteworthy aspect in the Civic is that when it comes to build quality and functionality, it is more in line with cars that are a notch higher in terms of segment, such as the Accord. The only problem area seemed to be the finish of the gear lever, something that Honda has failed to execute well on the Accord as well. Also, the buttons for the air-con seem too small.With Honda's low but well contoured rear seats, soft-feel elbow-rests and features such as a remote control for the music system built into the central armrest and reading lamps turn this driver-centric, sporty car into a great chauffeur-driven option as well. However, do bear in mind that nothing compares to the front seats and driver comfort, which are far superior in the Civic. Also, with the superior seating comfort that supports you in all the right places, finding a good driving position is simple and with the steering wheel being adjustable for both, reach and height, it is definitely a first in its class.

Engine, gearbox and performance

The all new car besides the all new look comes with an all new engine. Honda's new 130bhp, 1.8-litre motor comes with even finer valve control and high tech, `cracked' connecting rods that are re-joined directly on the crank, thus doing away with heavy pins. The car uses transversely mounted engines to drive the front wheels, has disc brakes for all four wheels and is equipped with anti lock brakes as standard. Improving on the famous VTEC system, this new engine allows for greater valve overlap and valve lift, which in turn provides for improved high engine speed performance. Honda has added a new technology called VTC (or Variable Timing Control) to this single cam, 16-valve motor.

Superior ride and handling

Slightly longer than the Corolla, the Civic is built on a longer wheelbase and is also fifty kilograms lighter than the "world's largest selling car". Not only is the Civic a good driver's car but the quick steering coupled with good front-end grip makes cornering a whole new experience. The Civic's electric steering is extremely light, making it a boon for city speeds. However, the car's low ground clearance and shorter suspension travel mean bad roads have to be negotiated with caution. Speed-breakers pose a big challenge to the Civic, especially when the car has five occupants. The Civic sits taller by 15mm over the car built for Thailand, and comes with anti-roll bars, front and rear. Fuel efficiencyThe Civic's new motor easily returned approximately 9kpl in the city and 14kpl on the highway. Buying and owningComing in a single trim level, the only thing left for you to choose is the colour. Civic comes with a 2 year/40,000km guarantee assuring you reliability and service and like most Hondas the Civic is expected to have a good resale value. Paddle Shift Not only is the Civic automatic good value for money at Rs 12.01 lakh (ex showroom Mumbai), it is also probably the most alluring automatic to be launched of late. Featuring a five-speed automatic, vis-à-vis the other four-speeders in the segment, this new generation gearbox has both a paddle shift behind the steering wheel and the ability to hold on to a gear, as in a real, manual gearbox. This seems to be the answer for drivers searching for a combination of driving pleasure and traditional automatic gearbox convenience, at long last, to say the least. Placed in D or `drive', the auto behaves just like any other. When you demand instant acceleration by going to full throttle, the box executes a very quick downshift and strong acceleration follows soon after. Shift the lever back to `S' mode for a more satisfying driving experience. This auto is also uniquely programmed to hold the gear till you press the paddle to shift up, meaning you can bounce of the rev limiter and it won't shift up like other automatics - Porsche included! This allows you to corner the car real hard. The Civic reaches 100kph in 11.3 seconds. Top speed stretches almost to 200kph. The automatic Civic is thirstier than its manual counterpart by about 1.5kpl in the city and 1kpl on the highway. But the convenience and driver-centric enthusiasm make up for the slight increase in fuel consumption and expenses involved. The Civic automatic is a great car to own and drive.

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