The midsize sedan sector has not really shown much growth over the years – there have been consistent but slow sales in that field. However, until the recent launch of the new Honda Civic, there does seem to be a heated debate on whether the latest car is a new addition to the sedan family, or just a remake of sorts.
Yes, the Civic brand name does have a fairly good reputation but does it really set a new benchmark to the sedan segment? The new 10th generation sedan came out a few months ago, but is it really a new member of the mid range sedan team with its new diesel engine? We compared the new Civic to one of the most reliable and trustworthy sedans, the Skoda Octavia to find out which car would stay in the new sedan family.
The Civic’s Design
The latest Civic looks extremely attractive and flashy, and its radiant red shade has a popular appeal. The new shape is low-slung and does resemble the classic Civic, but the fastback like tail is what lifts its design. The overall design execution is fantastic and surely does justice to the new model.
The Civic’s Interior
When you first enter the new Civic, you see that the seating alignment is pretty much the same as the olden models. This is because the seat is placed a bit low, so you might have to lower yourself a bit and then just let out a free fall towards the end before finally sitting in the driver’s seat. This was the same issue in all older Civics as well.
While the car’s seating is low, the driving position seems to be right where it needs to be. The driver’s seat is well cushioned along with the steering, pedals, and gear levels. This comforting feature feels like the car is taking care of you. But if you are just a rookie, the car will surely set a standard in your mind. Another delightful feature of the car is the dash board. It has a certain sporty look to it and does runs smoothly.
The Road Experience
When you take the civic for a spin, it will no doubt give you a very smooth ride. But the suspensions have not been changed much; they show little improvement as compared to older models. The new model has a sports car like ground clearance and does its job right.
The Civic has a 141hp, 1.8 litre i-VTEC engine that is oddly doing a great job and responds very well to low and high speeds. There isn’t much to complain about the gear box but once a while you might experience a slight jerk in the throttle transition. But if there happens to be a long open road then the Civic smoothens the ride and with its imperfections.
The steering, too, has a good weight to it, but it does tend to make a little more noise for the road. This is where things start getting a bit disappointing. When we floored the acceleration at a long stretch of an expressway, we could feel an unpleasant roaring sound of strained resistance. The CVT gearbox goes through the rubberband effect which rears this unpleasant head at full throttle, and the smashing down gives us more sound than action. Sure, the speed is not bad at all, but you can feel the gearbox drain out an important connection with the car.
The paddle shifters help in shuffling through the gear box’s seven steps and bring back some involvement, but in the end, you’ll not enjoy the engine and gearbox’s activities. This adds to the notion of it being a spoilsport. But in all fairness, the new Honda Civic is a buyable car. It has quick steering and also remains very smooth when you have to go from corner to corner.
The Skoda Octavia’s Design
The standard Skoda Octavia has a reputation when it comes to sedans. In spite of its newer models not making much change in the whole car, it a rather simpler look compared to the new generation Honda Civic. When we say simple, it just means that the car has a much more professional look to it, but does not seem very flashy when compared to its Japanese rival.
When we look at the interior of the Skoda Octavia, the first thing that comes to our mind is a business theme. This is because the Octavia’s dashboard is clean-cut and pretty well thought out. But if you take a careful look around you will notice the high concentration of the soft touch materials in the Octavia.
The Czech have really outdone themselves while paying attention to details so much so that even the door pockets are felt-lined. This only furthers the conclusion that the Skoda Octavia has a legitimately better interior.
When we talk about the infotainment systems, the Skoda Octavia has one of the best there is. It has an 8 inch touchscreen unit (that might be a fingerprint magnet) that is larger, sleeker and much nicer than the Civic’s 7 inch touch screen system. The digital instrumentation is a top-spec L&K trim, which has features like the Audi Virtual Cockpit. The digital display is far beyond amazing, and looking at the analogue tacho needle swivelling forcefully through the gauge is an extremely satisfying experience in itself.
One of the most appreciated features of the Skoda Octavia is that it’s 1.8-litre engine uses a direct injection and turbocharging to give out 180hp and 250Nm versus the Civic’s 174Nm of torque. All of this power is channelled through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Just driving it 1Km alone gets people plastered to this car. That amazing kick of power in the mid-range and lusty pull to 6,000rpm-plus top end is enough for people to purchase this. What’s more is that there is a dual clutch gearbox which is always ready with a shift and plays its critical role in keeping the engine in the powerband when anyone would want to speed. It’s always fun to work your way up and down the gears through the paddles and or shift levers. This only proves that the Skoda Octavia’s gearbox is very much in tune with what you would want it to be.
Power and torque numbers are clearly on Octavia’s side, which concludes that Octavia is the faster car. However, we had a bit of a surprise when we had a look at its margin victory. The Civic took about 11.48 seconds to reach 0 to 100 kph, whereas the Skoda Octavia took only 8.01 seconds.
It’s just another Skoda walkover in the in-gear acceleration too, with the Octavia’s 20-80kph and 40-100kph time of 4.95sec and 5.53sec overtaking the Civic’s respective 6.68sec and 9.04sec times.
Do remember that the Civic’s engine is good. But Skoda’s engine is amazing. Not just fantastic for this type of car but just a brilliantly engineered work of art fantastic engine. Period.
We have had a good look at the driving part of this comparison, now let us see how these two compare to each other in different areas. Your passengers (or you) will be really satisfied on the back seats of both the cars. However, there are a few differences.
The seats are a bit higher on the Octavia than the Civics, hence it is easier to get in and out of the Skoda Octavia. There is enough headroom for your tall friends and the large windows make it airy and comfortable. Both the Civic and the Octavia have similar rear legroom space though.
People who are familiar with the old Civic might find it a bit disappointing that there is a central hump on the new car’s floor and that there are no audio controls on the low-set armrests.
What’s even more disappointing is that Honda has yet again not provided a charging portal at the back, whereas the Skoda Octavia has two rear USB ports. Also, the Civic’s front ports are sort of hidden from sight and are a bit inconvenient to access.
Both the cars have large in-car storage spaces, although the new generation Civic uses an electronic parking brake, which has freed up some space for a slightly larger box between the seats. Yet again, the comparison between both the boot spaces leads to a pretty simple conclusion. The Civic’s 430-litre boot, accessed by a conventional md ranges sedan boot opening is useable, but it just cannot match the 590 litres boot space the Skoda Octavia’s rear hatch.
The cost of the petrol Civic ZX is not that cheap, but it’s still considered one of those cars with a car with a lower price tag. On the other hand, the fully loaded Octavia 1.8 TSI L&K featured is not really a stretch, but if you are willing to give up on a few features like auto parking, sunroof, digital dials and a powered passenger seat, you could end up with a more reasonably priced Skoda Octavia.
It is true that, the Civic ZX gets you a sunroof, digital dials, the cool Lane Watch camera and snazzier wheels for a few more dollars, but all things considered, it’s a compromise anyone would be glad to make.
The price variation exists because while the Civic has unique and stand out look with a sportier cabin, it doesn’t really convert its looks into enough driver appeal. Whereas the Octavia is completely on the other side of the spectrum. It’s an amazing athlete in a slightly retro business suit. It’s engine and gearbox are on another level altogether there isn’t much to fault the Skoda Octavia as a product.
If there is any hesitation then it is that Skoda has a bit of a reputation for the aftersales that makes us a bit reluctant in recommending it more readily. Thankfully, amends have been made in that area too by Skoda.
The Octavia’s beauty and styling amplifies the performance that hides under its bonnet. It’s a “sleeper” right from Czech. Having the same displacement and the same number of cylinders as the Honda Civic petrol, it displays one huge difference – the turbocharger.
With almost 180PS and 250Nm vs the Civic’s 141PS & 174Nm, the statistics clearly lean towards the Skoda Octavia. If we look at the top-spec grades, the Octavia is about 80kg heavier than the Honda Civic, but the Skoda still exercises a good power-to-weight bonus of about 23PS per ton. And then, the iconic 7-speed DSG gearbox which strikes a well engineered balance of smoothness and steadiness, while the contrary is experienced with the functionality-focused CVT in the Civic
Things would have definitely turned out differently if the Civic had a nicer gearbox or the international model’s 173 hp, 1.5 litre turbo VTEC engine. But as for this review, Honda is all talk and no action whereas owning a Skoda seems much more exciting.