Among a host of futuristic concepts that are unlikely to come to India anytime soon, despite Mr Gadkari’s dream of an electric future, there was one car at the Honda pavilion of the Tokyo Motor Show that could be of great significance to its plans for India. Say hello to the new generation of the Honda Civic. Parked to one side of the pavilion and away from the primary spotlight that shone on the EV concepts on centre stage, it was the red sedan that drew our attention. Sure, the black hatchback next to it seemed more wicked but it is the one with the three-box design that is likely to become one of the six new models that Honda Car India will bring to India over the next three years. We might even see the car at the Honda pavilion at the upcoming Auto Expo.
The new generation Civic features an all-new unibody platform in which the selection of lightweight, high tensile materials and the manufacturing techniques have resulted in a lighter and more rigid structure. The new Civic’s chassis is now 16kg lighter than before and Honda says that torsional stiffness has improved by 52 per cent greater torsional stiffness. As a result of this, the Civic’s overall weight is reduced by 16 per cent while torsional rigidity has improved by 23 per cent.
The latest generation Civic also boasts of an all-new suspension and a lower centre of gravity – to this end even the fuel tank has been relocated, which should improve agility. The floor of the car is also 20mm lower than before so that the driver can experience The Thrill of Driving by being closer to the road. However, this would certainly create ground clearance issues in India. We expect Honda Car India will take this into account and do the necessary adaptations to make the car useable in the Indian environment.
As far as powertrains go, the most exciting of the lot would be the new 1.5-litre VTEC turbo petrol with direct injection that Honda has developed for the Civic. Unfortunately this 179bhp scorcher will be too expensive a proposition for the segment that the Civic will operate in. Therefore, expect a resurrection of the old but thoroughly capable 1.8-litre DOHC i-VTEC. But unlike the previous time that the Civic was introduced to India, we now believe that Honda will certainly bring the 120bhp 1.6-litre turbo diesel as well. Transmission options for the Civic will vary between a six-speed manual and a CVT.
The Civic, like the last time around, will find itself competing with Toyota’s Corolla Altis and the now potent Hyundai Elantra. On paper the car has everything it needs to not just challenge but also win. However, even though a display is expected at the Auto Expo early next year, the Civic is probably only going to be in India by 2019. By then the global model would have received its facelift and it is likely that that is the version that will make it to India.