They are not asking us to drive from Delhi to Jaipur, are they? It was Pablo responding to my request to accompany me to the new Honda Civic test drive. ‘Sure they are,’ I told him with certain authority – fully aware of the fact that it will excite him the same way as a ‘Hi, we have some dal-chaval for dinner’ line would. Now, to excite someone like BSM’s travel pro, Honda would have had to include some unpronounceable names from some brand new states, but then that would have taken the focus away from the car, right? The new Civic, according to Honda, is quite a treat in itself and requires a decent stretch of highway to show its true colours. After all, cars like the Civic will be used by their prospective owners mostly for inter-city duty in any case.
So Delhi-Jaipur and back it was. And before we knew it, I was driving the wheels off a Habanero Red Honda Civic with Pablo still wearing a disapproving look carefully maintained for Honda officials. Nothing an ethnic dinner can’t cure, I thought, and decided to concentrate on the car, which incidentally was already winning my heart.
You see, there is only so much that one can get excited about a four-door sedan – admit it, it is not something you should start drooling all over. These are cars people (reasonably successful ones) use on a daily basis to commute or shuttle between towns. And yes, once or twice they will take it to a hill station or a beach with their entire family and the neighbours in tow. As far as ‘fitness for purpose’ goes, the car has to seat five people comfortably, should have adequate power, and should consume the unleaded stuff in reasonable quantities, right? And yes, it has to look different, and here, dear reader, starts the new Civic story.
The middle of things
If you have seen the Accord and the City, you have already read the final and first chapter of Honda’s new design manual. And the Civic is the juicy middle of things where the plot thickens and all the action begins to unfold. As we all know, modern automobile design is dictated by legal norms for dimensions and safety, but someone at Honda decided to adhere to the above without neglecting style. The new Civic sports the
cab-forward architecture that makes you wonder how they managed to hide an engine under its bonnet – it is sleek and slippery all the way from the front bumper to the rear. And the way the car is built is a tribute to the finest from Seiko and Citizen. Shutlines won’t let a penny in and overall fit and finish is good enough to leave one Mr JD Power contemplating new career moves.
The corporate grille is very much there with a proud Honda badge in chrome. The influence of Chris Bangle on modern cars (heck, Toyota and Mercedes paid homage to him with the boot design of the Camry and new S-Class) is evident the way the headlamps go sagging. Lessons learnt from scores of slammed Civics from the US have gone into the way the mini chin spoiler and the skirts are incorporated into the overall design. A clearly defined waistline with sporty mirrors that sprout from doors complete the package. While the very bling five-spoke alloys are a neat touch, Honda could have avoided chrome on door handles for sure.