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Honda Civic vs Skoda Octavia: Petrol Comparison Review

Published On May 18, 2019 By Arun for Honda Civic

Skoda’s Octavia has been acing the D-segment sedan game for years now. Has it met its match in Honda’s Civic?

honda civic vs skoda octavia

When we first drove the Honda Civic earlier this year, we were positively smitten. The sedan felt like what Hondas should - delectable to look at, built well, sharp around the bends and supremely comfortable. We did cringe at the lack of a petrol manual. But Honda’s reasoning made complete sense too: no one wants a manual gearbox in this segment.

That’s not to say automatics can’t be exciting. A clear case in point is Skoda’s Octavia, whose DSG shifts quicker than you can blink. It’s also setting benchmarks in this class, in terms of equipment, as well as the feel-good factor. While you’d happily head straight to the Skoda showroom earlier if you wanted the proper luxo-experience, does the Civic give you a reason to reconsider?

Blend In, Or Stand Out?

Skoda Octavia

That’s the question you should be asking yourself. Because the Octavia is as straightforward as three-box designs get. With the facelift, you don’t even get exciting colour options anymore, just a (boring) palette of grey, silver, white and black. If your definition of luxury is being incognito, the Octavia is sure to appeal to you. With time, the quad-LED headlamp setup has grown on us, and the clean uncomplicated lines make us believe the Octavia will age gracefully. Our wishlist include a better (or bigger) set of alloy wheels. That’s pretty much it.

Honda Civic

There’s nothing we’d change about the Honda. Its svelte design is something you’d ogle at over and over again. With its coupe-like roofline, the large 17-inch alloy wheels and the full-LED headlamp setup, the Civic demands attention. And if that’s what you want from your sedan, the Honda does not disappoint.

Money’s Worth

Honda Civic interior
Skoda Octavia interior

If either of these cars is your first step into the world of luxury cars, both of them put up an impressive show - at least on paper. Pick any one of them and you get a host of goodies including a touchscreen infotainment system, a digital driver’s display, cruise control, leather upholstery, powered driver’s seat and finally, a sunroof.

But here’s where the Octavia leapfrogs ahead of the Civic. It’s got enough tech to stand neck and neck with luxury cars that cost twice (or even thrice) as much. For instance, you not only get memory for the driver’s seat, but the passenger’s seat is also powered. Goodies such as front parking sensors and semi-auto parallel park make life behind the wheel easier.

Finally, whatever the Octavia shares with the Civic, it does better. The virtual cockpit is larger and offers more information (although it’s clearly a rung below what Audi offers), the Canton audio system sounds better than the one on the Honda, and the infotainment experience is distinguishably better too with crisper graphics and snappier response.

Honda’s Civic feels like it needs a bit of polish. For instance, the experience of the touchscreen infotainment system feels lacklustre, and out of place on a premium car. Similarly, given the low stance of the car, front parking sensors should’ve been offered as standard, at least on the top trim. Honda is offering LaneWatch (the nifty camera tucked under the left ORVM), and that helps quite a lot in crowded bylanes and parking.

Skoda Octavia interior

In terms of overall quality too, the Octavia manages to nudge past the Civic. Both get a soft-touch dashboard, soft-touch elements on he door pads and a plush leather wrap for the steering. But it’s the Skoda that delivers a richer experience, albeit not by a huge margin. What amplifies the experience in the Octavia is the straightforward dashboard layout and the beige-black colour scheme. Coupled with the large windows, the sense of space in the Octavia is a rung above the Civic’s.

Honda Civic interior

The Honda’s majorly black dashboard takes away from the cabin’s size and so does the sharply raked window line. Add the low seating position in the mix and we wouldn’t blame you if you thought you were in a sportscar and not in an executive sedan.

Spread Out

Skoda Octavia

Chances are your buying decision will be made before you even in either of these cars. For you can simply sit down into the Octavia’s cabin, whereas you have to actually lower yourself to get inside the Civic’s. This isn’t friendly to old people knees, neither is it too convenient if you’re tall. But once you’re in, both cars give you no real reason to whine.

 

Front

 

Legroom (min-max)

Knee room (min-max)

Seat base length

Seat base width

Seat back height

Headroom (min-max)

Cabin width

Shoulder Width

(from 2019)

Skoda Octavia

1090-880mm

845-620mm

460mm

500mm

650mm

900-990mm

1450mm

1350mm

Honda Civic

845-1030mm

535-765mm

480mm

500mm

615mm

840-950mm

1450mm

1380mm

 

 

Rear

 

Shoulder room

Headroom

Seat base width

Seat base length

Seat back height

Knee room (min-max)

Rear floor hump height

Rear floor hump width

Skoda Octavia

1380mm

950mm

1260mm

440mm

650mm

590-810mm

140mm

220mm

Honda Civic

1370mm

920mm

1325mm

480mm

665mm

550-890mm

130mm

250mm


At the rear, it’s the Honda that has the more comfortable seat recline and better under-thigh support. Headroom isn’t as much as the Octavia, but we had no issues seating a 6’5” person there. Rounding off the rear seat experience are cushy soft seats which make the Civic’s cabin a happy place to be in. That said, given the seat’s contouring, it’s best if you use the rear bench to seat two.

The Octavia has more usable kneeroom and an additional 10mm of shoulder room to offer, which makes it a wee kinder to three adults. There are a couple of sneers though. Since the seat squab is short, you’re robbed of valuable under-thigh support. Second, the bench is a tad upright, which might not be comfortable for everyone. Finally, the cushioning here is noticeably harder. While you can easily sit here for a day-long road trip, the Civic just feels a lot more relaxing.

Honda Civic
Skoda Octavia

And speaking of road trips, the Octavia’s 590-litre boot will happily swallow full-sized adults if you wanted it to. The Civic gets a spacious (but modest in comparison) boot of 430 litres. What ups the Skoda’s versatility quotient is a 60:40 split for the rear seat. You can even fold it flat, liberating a whopping 1580 litres in the process. The Octavia’s practicality streak continues inside the cabin too, as it offers more cubby holes and pockets to store your odds and ends.
 

Start Your Engines!

Honda Civic
Skoda Octavia

… and you’d barely hear them. At idle, both engines are at their muted best, waking up only when you prod the throttle. Even on the move, both cars manage to filter out a lot of road and tyre noise, keeping the drive relaxed. If we had to pick one, we’d say the Octavia does a slightly better job of keeping you isolated from the outside world. You hear more of the engine inside the Civic, especially when driving hard since the CVT holds the revs up continuously. In the Octavia, even when you’re redlining it, the buttery-smooth TSi engine doesn’t sound coarse; it sounds sporty!

Honda Civic

For a relaxed canter though, both feel up to the task. Minor modulations on the throttle are picked up equally well by Skoda’s DSG and the Honda’s CVT. In fact, if you’re stuck in a bumper-to-bumper scenario, the Civic’s transmission feels more easygoing. On the flipside, the Octavia tends to lunge forward with small dabs of the throttle.

Where the Skoda leaves the Honda behind, is when you have to pick gaps in traffic. The Civic's CVT requires you to plan overtakes even inside the city, as it takes a hair longer to react to your throttle input. In the Octavia, you can bank on the DSG to downshift instantly, and give you all the power you’d need.

Skoda Octavia

Speaking of which, the Octavia has the Civic pinned down here once again. In a straight line, there’s barely a contest. With a turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol motor, the Skoda does the 0-100kmph sprint in 8.26 seconds, whereas the naturally aspirated Civic takes a leisurely 11.65 seconds. Even in our 20-80kmph kickdown runs, the Skoda was nearly two seconds quicker than the Honda (5 seconds vs 6.99 seconds).

Honda Civic vs Skoda Octavia

It’s this DSG’s quick-shifting nature that lets you enjoy all of the 180PS and 250Nm you have at your disposal. Driving the Octavia fast through long open highways feels almost effortless. You are never shortchanged for power. Compare that to the 141PS/174Nm Civic and you’d realize it’s happier settling into a comfortable cruise rather than going all out. Yes, this too can do questionable speeds if you wanted it to. But since the CVT holds the engine at peak rpm throughout, you’ll back off pretty quickly.

Honda Civic

And it’s not like the Civic redeems itself thoroughly by offering better mileage too. It was marginally better on the highway, delivering 15.92kmpl as opposed to the Octavia’s 15.11kmpl. Inside the city, however, the gulf widened further, with the Honda returning 10.21kmpl, compared to 9.04kmpl of the Skoda.

Of Cornering and Comfort...

Honda Civic

The Honda hits back, and hard! Show the Civic a set of corners and it will leave you grinning from ear to ear. It’s not like the Octavia is a poor handler. But with the Civic around you’ll feel that the Skoda rolls a whole lot more around the bends, and the steering feels plain numb when you’re hustling it. The Civic’s steering setup is quick and predictable, letting you place the nose exactly where you want it. It’s backed up by a suspension that isn’t fazed by quick turn-ins. The fly in the otherwise perfect ointment is, you guessed it, the CVT. If Honda offered a manual gearbox, we’d be drooling.

Skoda Octavia

Then there’s the low-speed ride quality that’s super comfortable in case of the Honda, and slightly jiggly in the Skoda. With the Octavia, over small bumps, you’d find yourself rocking side to side very easily. Not so in the Civic. It simply gobbles up imperfections on the surface and keeps them from disturbing you inside the cabin. On the highway, both cars feel at home, cruising steadily at speeds in excess of 100kmph.

Safety Check

In their top-spec avatars both cars get a lot of safety tech to keep you out of harm's way. Here too, the Octavia manages to one up the Civic. There are 8 airbags on offer (vs 6), front and rear parking sensors (as opposed to rear only), and other useful features such as a rear foglamp and cornering front fogs as well. Both get ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounts as well as hill-start assist. Honda’s Civic additionally gets the LaneWatch camera, vehicle stability assist and agile handling assist (that brakes the inner wheel to combat understeer). On the other hand, the Octavia gets electronic stability control, traction control and multi-collision braking.

Picking One

… will be quite hard. And, that’s because the Honda Civic appeals a whole lot to the heart with its sexy design. And it’s got substance too, with a comfortable ride quality, ample space for four (and their luggage) and enough tech to the millennial in the house occupied. It’s hard not to consider the peace of mind that comes with the Honda badge too. We’ve heard of first-gen Civic owners trading their decade-old cars for the new one! You also get a 3 year / unlimited km warranty that you can extend to 5 years.

That said, it’s the Skoda Octavia that delivers a more premium experience. In terms of interior fit and finish, technology and outright power, it has the Civic pinned down quite convincingly. Yes, the rear seat experience could’ve been better, and the ride could’ve been comfier. But neither of these are dealbreakers. Also, Skodas have been haunted by after-sales inconsistencies, but that’s a thing of the past — at least that’s what the brand wants you to believe. And to put their money where their mouth is, Skoda lets you extend the standard 4 year / 1 lakh km warranty to 6 years / 1.50 lakh km.  

Yes, there’s an elephant in the room here, and that’s price. Compared to the top-spec Civic, the Octavia is nearly Rs 3 lakh dearer. Does it offer enough to justify the premium. The answer to that is a resounding yes. Then there’s the Octavia’s Style variant that’s cheaper compared to the Civic ZX and doesn’t miss out on anything substantial except for the sunroof.

So, does the Civic give you enough reason to reconsider your Octavia buying decision? Completely. In fact, it might even sway your decision in its favour if you think with your heart. But does it manage to convince your head against the Octavia? Nope. The Octavia is the better-rounded product here, and it remains the one to beat in this segment.

Honda Civic

Variants*Ex-Showroom Price New Delhi
VX Diesel (Diesel)Rs. 20.55 Lakh*
ZX Diesel (Diesel)Rs. 22.35 Lakh*
V (Petrol)Rs. 17.94 Lakh*
VX (Petrol)Rs. 19.45 Lakh*
ZX (Petrol)Rs. 21.25 Lakh*

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