If you are a car nut, you can’t help but appreciate Hondas. Time and time again they have delivered superior products across all segments, be it the compact car segment or even the luxury car segment (via Acura). Their engines are world renowned and are constantly on the list of best engines ever built (B18C5 anyone?). We have been driving around a manual 2011 Honda Civic for the past few days on Indian roads and as expected it doesn’t disappoint.
Plus: Let’s start with the looks. The Civic is a modern looking car. Granted it doesn’t have those svelte curves but it still has that aggressive stance and bold look. Considering Civic models past, this is a big change. And thankfully the chrome and bling is kept to a minimum which we absolutely appreciate. The interior is also well laid out and comfortable for 5 adults and with the trunk you won’t have too many issues lugging their gear around either. We wish the seats had a little more support on the sides to stop the sliding around when things start getting a little hairy. The stereo system is pretty good too and doesn’t get too jarring when you crank up the volume and base. Now that we got the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get to the main course. The Civic is equipped with a 1.8L 4 cylinder 130HP i-VTEC engine which we absolutely love. We have always been suckers for the VTEC crossover and this car is no different. The car really comes alive (and is a different beast) once that VTEC lobe gets engaged. Once minute you are puttering around town doing your grocery shopping and the next minute you feel like you should be on a race track thrashing the car around. You almost feel like the car is begging you do to just that. It is just a fun car to drive around.
Minus: Ground clearance, ground clearance, ground clearance. It is fine if you drive around in places where the roads are very smooth but on these Indian roads, it is a real bitch. We can’t count the number of times the car bottomed out just driving around town. The Civic is just too low at times and a couple of people who got in the car complained that they felt like they were getting into a ditch. Compare the Civic to say the Honda City and the latter feels like an SUV with its ground clearance. Changing the ride height is a double edged sword though… raise the ride height and there goes the handle like its own rails feeling the Civic has. Before buying the car you’ll have to make up your mind if you are willing to live with this issue. Honda advertises the Civic as giving almost 15 kilometers per liter of petrol but we didn’t even get close. Not in the city. Not on the highway. When we hit 10 kilometers per liter we felt happy. Another point to consider if you are going to purchase the car.
Overall: Honda has made another winner with the Civic. This is a car we would recommend to others. It isn’t perfect and has its idiosyncrasies but we would overlook them. Just make sure you have a good dealership near you. In India based on conversations we have had with owners here, there aren’t many people who can work on these cars aside from some of the mechanics at the dealerships themselves. Then again since India is a relatively new market, it will take time for the expertise to spread. This is a common theme across all brands of cars that are being introduced in the market. Time will be the healer.
The Honda Civic is currently on sale in India from Rs. 13,00,000 (~$26,000) to Rs. 15,35,000 (~$30,700).

Take a look at the detailed specifications.

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