Why is the Honda Civic losing ground rapidly?

In the past six months, the Honda Civic has sold a little over 2,000 cars. In the same period, the Chevrolet Cruz sold more than 4,700 units. And in June, only 175 Civics were sold. Should we write off this premium sedan, which was once a segment best-seller?

The question might seem harsh, or even unfair. Car sales dip during the April-June period, so the Civic could just be facing a seasonal drop. But then, the sales of Cruze and Corolla Altis actually jumped up in June, to 860 cars and 629 cars respectively.

So clearly the problems with the Civic are not related to lower demand in these months.

Why is the Honda Civic losing ground rapidly?

Not a good value proposition anymore

The Civic, like other Honda products, lacks a diesel engine option which has resulted in plummeting sales. With the growing difference between price of petrol and diesel, the market is shifting towards diesel putting Civic at a disadvantage.

The base variant of the Civic comes at a price of Rs. 13.2 lakh however, for Rs. 12.6 lakh one can buy the base variant of the Cruze which is a diesel powered car. Similarly, one can purchase the base diesel variant of the Toyota Altis for Rs. 11.4 lakh which again is cheaper than the Civic.

In fact, even when you compare the top end variant of the Honda Civic there is only a marginal difference in price as against the top end diesel models of the Cruze and Altis. The top trim Civic comes at Rs. 13.9 lakh while the top end diesel models of the Cruze and Altis come at Rs. 14.4 lakh and 14.5 lakh, respectively.

What that means is that a prospective buyer can buy a fully loaded diesel version of both the Civics’ key competitors shelling out only Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000 more. That difference in price is justified by the frugality of diesel cars and the fact that both the Cruze and Altis are still fresh in terms of design..

Needs a fresh look

The looks too are a bit dated as Cruze and Altis are both newer cars. Cruze also has the advantage being bigger and more loaded. The Cruze’ design for example is fresh and the interiors too are new unlike the Civic’s interiors which have not seen any major change in the last few years.

Civic offers most of the features you would expect from a car (like climate control, a sunroof etc) in this segment but does not have any feature that it can boast of as a USP.

Less power

The Cruze is a diesel powered car, yet when compared to the Civic is has a more powerful engine (1,991cc) that produces 148bhp as against the Civic’s engine (1,798cc) that belts out 130 bhp.

What really makes it worse for Civic is its torque. At 171 Nm, it is almost half that of Cruz (327 Nm). That’s a serious disadvantage to overcome.

On top of that, the Cruze offers a 6-speed automatic transmission on the top end Cruze LTZ AT while its equivalent Civic model the 1.8 V AT offers only a 5-speed automatic transmission. This alone may pull many buyers as the Cruze LTZ AT costs Rs.14.44 lakh while the Civic 1.8 V AT comes at Rs.13.96 lakh and the price difference is roughly Rs.40,000.

Less features

The driver seats on both the Cruze and the Altis are also electrically adjustable while in the Civic only manual seat adjust is available. The Cruze has steering mounted audio controls, puddle lamps, rain sensing wipers and other interesting features that the Civic misses out on.

Similarly the Toyota Corolla Altis wins over the Honda Civic when in terms of in-car entertainment. The Altis comes with a six CD Audio changer and six speakers while the Civic only offer an integrated audio system with 4 speakers.

Honda will have to seriously overhaul the Civic proposition to attract new buyers. Or, will it drop the Civic price to make it more value-for-money car? Share your views!