Over the last few years, the midsize sedan segment hasn't quite been the high growth space it once used to be. But, with the coming of the new-generation Honda Civic in India, things are looking up, at least for now. No doubt the Civic brand name has a rather strong recall and is also Honda's best-selling model worldwide. But does it set a new benchmark in the segment? The 10th generation Honda Civic was launched about a couple of months ago and it did shake things up in the rather dormant executive sedan segment. Honda Cars India has already received over 2,400 bookings in just 40 days since the car's launch. Could it be that the car is riding a wave of nostalgia or the fact that the Civic now gets a diesel engine as well, which is contributing to the sales of the car or is it really that good? We put it to test alongside the Skoda Octavia and the Toyota Corolla Altis.
Watch Our Honda Civic vs Rivals Comparison Video Here
Also Read: Honda Civic First Drive Review
We have the top-spec diesel engine variants of all the cars in this comparison. This is the first time that Civic gets a diesel engine and therefore, a comparison in this segment was exactly what the doctor order! The Civic returns to India after a gap of 7 years. The last model to be sold in India was the 8th generation model and Honda skipped the 9th gen in India. But, the 10th generation Civic looks downright gorgeous and is easily the most modern looking sedan amongst the trio here.
The upswept headlamps along with the bold chrome strip on the grille and the low hood gives the car a sporty stance. The front end design is complemented beautifully by sloping roofline at the rear, which gives the Civic a coupe like silhouette. The C-shaped tail lamps emphasize a distinct rear - possibly the car's best side!
The Corolla has a sharp design with its V-shaped grille, sculpted hood and that sportscar-like front bumper with multiple slats while the Octavia is more about understated elegance with its typical European design bits such as the quad headlamps and the strong character lines. Both cars have been around for a while now and with mid-life facelifts, they are simply no match for the sexy, desirable styling of the new-generation Civic. So, round one goes to the new Honda Civic then!
The sporty demeanour of the Civic's exterior has been carried inside the cabin as well. The dashboard has a slightly layered and a busy look to it, and the bits of silver and leather, of course they add to the premium look of the car, but them, the quality and the fit and finish is not exactly top notch. You have a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity and the instrument console, divided in 3 sections and it looks quite sporty. The steering feels good to hold and it houses controls for audio, Bluetooth telephony and cruise controls. Also, we quite like the low driving position and the seats are very well-bolstered.
But the cabin is where the Octavia trumps the Civic and the Corolla. The two-tone interior is neater and the dashboard is uncluttered, plus it adds to the sense of space as well. The instrument console too feels easier on the eye and the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system feels more intuitive and of course, gets smartphone connectivity too. The fit and finish inside is excellent but the seats are slightly firmer and the Octavia scores less on practicality in terms of cubbyholes and stowage spaces.
The interior of the Corolla is airy and the glass area is quite good too. The seats are comfortable and the Corolla is the only car in this comparison, which has a flat floor at the rear, which means more space for your feet. But then, there are some glaring omissions as far as features are concerned. There is no rear AC vents, there is no one-touch upside down system windows and the Corolla doesn't get a sunroof either which may not be an important feature but does add to the sense of premium-ness in a car. The overall design of the cabin inside the Corolla Altis is quite dated and the fit and finish along with quality of materials leave a lot to be desired. And very surprisingly, in the diesel version of the Corolla Altis, there is no infotainment system. There is no 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system as the petrol Altis gets, which we think is a very glaring omission.
All three cars spacious enough to seat 5 people! The Civic's sloping roofline at the rear does eat into the headroom and thanks to its low-slung design, ingress could be a hassle. The Octavia gets maximum knee room at the rear and also has the biggest boot which can gobble up 590 litres worth of luggage. While the Corolla is also spacious but it also gets the most dated interior of the three sedans here!
All cars get driver and passenger airbags as standard while the Civic gets front side airbags as standard as well. Also, it gets a lane-watch camera, which eliminates any blind spots when you put on the left side indicator. The Civic also gets a reverse camera as standard. The Octavia too gets dual and side airbags as standard while the top-spec L&K variant comes with side and curtain airbags as well. The Corolla Altis gets the least equipment of the three cars. Since there is no infotainment system, the car doesn't get a reverse camera nor does it feature parking sensors either.
Honda Civic vs Toyota Corolla vs Skoda Octavia
|Models||Honda Civic||Toyota Corolla||Skoda Octavia|
|Max Power||118 bhp||87 bhp||141 bhp|
|Peak Torque||300 Nm||205 Nm||320 Nm|
|Transmission||6-speed Manual||6-speed Manual||6-speed DSG/6-speed MT|
So let's get the numbers straight out of the way. It is the Octavia which has the most powerful engine. It is a 2-litre unit and it belts out 141 bhp and 320 Nm of peak torque. The Civic gets a 1.8-litre diesel which pumps out 118 bhp and 300 Nm of peak torque. The Corolla's numbers feel woefully less here, in this company. It gets a 1.4-litre diesel engine which generates merely 87 bhp and 205 Nm of peak torque. Both Japanese cars get a 6-speed manual gearbox with no automatic option.
Straightaway, the best thing about diesel engine on the new Honda Civic is the wave of torque. It is spread evenly across the rev range. The car builds up speed quickly from 2,000 rpm and it does so in a grin inducing way. It makes you smile. Complementing the performance of the car is its sharp handling. The steering itself is very well-weighted and it quickly reacts to handling inputs. Also, the ride quality on the new Civic is very supple. Irregularities on tarmac are taken care of easily. There is just one concern, which is actually a mild one, is that the engine is not as refined as the cars which we have on test with us here. Also, the NVH levels could have been slightly better.
The Corolla Altis is a world away when it comes to performance. Sure, the 1.4-litre engine is smooth but it lacks the outright punch that the other two cars make. Also, a car in this segment ought to make bhp in triple digits. The low end torque is also not in the same league as other two cars in the segment. Although we do like the ride quality on the Corolla Altis and the handling is pretty decent too.
The Skoda Octavia has the most powerful engine among the three cars that we have here. The engine itself is quite smooth, very creamy and the power delivery is the absolute best! Plus, the 6-speed DSG gearbox is very, very precise and it holds on to the gears when you want to go fast! In most cases, overtaking only requires you to prod the throttle. The steering is slightly dead; it feels slightly lifeless when compared to that of the Civic. Which means if you want to drive the car yourself, the Civic is the better option, although, the Octavia comes very, very close. All three cars get a 1.8-litre petrol engine too. The Octavia's petrol engine can either be paired with a 6-speed manual or the slick 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The Civic petrol gets only a CVT gearbox with no manual option. Toyota also offers an optional 7-step CVT or a 6-speed manual transmission unit.
To recap it all, the Corolla has the least amount of features, least powerful engine and looks dated too. The prices for the diesel variant start at 17 lakh 71 thousand rupees and the Corolla is definitely not a value for money proposition at that price. The Civic is easily the best-looking car in the segment; it has great driving dynamics and gets a decent features list too and the top-spec ZX variant that we tested is priced at 22 lakh 30 thousand rupees.
The Corolla will score in after sales for sure, and is a no brainer as a chauffeur driven car for many. But the difference between it and the other two is just too stark. Especially at the top end! We had the Skoda Octavia diesel in the top-spec L&K guise and it is priced at almost 26 lakh rupees. Yes, it is significantly more expensive than the Corolla Altis and the Civic but with its great build quality, terrific drivetrain, good drive dynamics, sophisticated looks and a long list of features, it wins this comparison by the slightest of margins. The car is equally desirable should you want to drive or be driven! The Honda Civic falls tantalisingly short and is almost at par with the Octavia but loses out marginally on engine performance and fit and finish along with a slightly shorter list of features.