Exclusive! Honda to launch Civic facelift in India

27th Oct 2017 10:48 am

Civic to make comeback in 2019 with launch of mid-life facelift; 1.8 petrol and 1.6 diesel engines likely.

Honda Cars India has officially confirmed that it will launch the much-awaited Civic sometime in 2019. After an exhaustive study, the Japanese carmaker has concluded that despite the market shift towards SUVs, there is potential in the executive sedan segment. And with the Civic, Honda can offer an upgrade to its growing base of owners of the current City, which it launched in 2014, thus keeping them within the family.

Honda launched the eighth-generation Civic in India in 2006, but after initial success, sales dwindled due to the lack of a diesel option and a shrinking segment. Thus, in 2013, the Japanese carmaker discontinued the model and did not replace the Civic with its successor. Another reason for not bringing in the replacement was the fact that by Honda’s own admission the ninth-generation Civic was globally deemed to be below the mark.

The car that will now finally launch in our market will be the tenth-generation model which made its international debut in 2015. “We have received a lot of requests for the Civic which is very successful in other countries. So we are studying this model for India and, so far, the result is very positive. So we are going to implement it here now,” said Yoichiro Ueno, President and CEO of Honda Cars India Ltd.

However, the Civic won’t come anytime soon. “It will take a while due to localisation of components and the development of the specification for India,” said Ueno. Honda says the Civic is unlikely to arrive on Indian shores before 2019, by which time it is set to get a mid-life facelift globally. Hence, it makes sense to launch the facelifted version in India. Ueno agrees: “We would like to bring the latest models, so coinciding the launch of the facelift in India with other countries will be good. I think that’s good timing for India."

Like the eighth-generation model, the current car has a futuristic look. While we can’t be sure of the styling of the facelift, what will remain is the low- slung and sleek silhouette, and the fastback look. While the length and height could change with the facelift, the wheelbase will remain the same at the current 2,700mm.

 Engine options for the Civic are likely to be a 140hp, 1.8-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel. Unfortunately, the all-new and potent 1.5 turbo petrol that puts out around 170hp won’t be available here. “The 1.5 turbo is a very expensive engine for India,” says Ueno. To achieve competitive pricing, keeping costs low is a top priority for Honda as the Civic will have to compete with strong contenders like the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra.

The 1.6 diesel, which will debut in the CR-V in mid-2018, is a logical choice for the Civic, as it will be manufactured locally and exported to global markets. The economies of scale will make this engine cost competitive. However, Honda is sceptical of the demand for diesel sedans going forward, especially in the executive segment. The demand for the City 1.5 diesel has shrunk to 20 percent and Honda expects the Civic diesel to have an even lower share.

In a bid to gain market share, Honda has announced six new models for India, including the Civic. At its peak, the eighth-gen Civic sold a massive 2,500 units per month and bagged the 2007 Autocar Car of the Year award. But can the new model weave the same magic? With the executive segment a shadow of what it was ten years ago, it's highly unlikely that the Civic will achieve four-figure monthly sales figures, but if priced right, it could very well become the top-dog in the segment once again.

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