Honda’s Civic LX is pretty and pow­er­ful. It’s a win­ner, no doubt.

In a seg­ment where buy­ers have been used to see­ing just one pow­er­train op­tion across dif­fer­ent trims, Honda is of­fer­ing choices that cater to a wide range of bud­gets, says wheels’ Sony Thomas

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The C-seg­ment is one of the most im­por­tant for main­stream car­mak­ers, with mod­els in this cat­e­gory al­most al­ways fea­tur­ing among their bestsellers. But this pop­u­lar­ity also means that many man­u­fac­tur­ers be­come com­pla­cent and take cus­tomers for granted. Un­til re­cently, al­most ev­ery car in the class was of­fered with just one pow­er­train and the bare min­i­mum of fea­tures. This dis­qui­et­ing trend of short­chang­ing cus­tomers is what Honda has bucked with its an­nounce­ment of an all-new 1.6-litre en­gine for its new Civic early this month.

The 123bhp, 151Nm nat­u­rally as­pi­rated four-pot is the third pow­er­train op­tion be­ing of­fered to Civic cus­tomers. Avail­able in two trims, DX and LX, this new ver­sion sits at the lower end of the range, as a more cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion than the LXi and the EXi with their 2.0-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated four-cylin­der en­gines, and the range-top­ping RS pow­ered by a 1.5-litre tur­bocharged en­gine. With this ad­di­tion, Honda cov­ers a much wider spec­trum of bud­gets start­ing from Dh67,900 all the way up to Dh95,900. It also lets the Civic cater to vary­ing tastes, as op­posed to the pre­vi­ous model, which was avail­able only with a 1.8-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine across three grades.

Look­ing at the Civic LX from out­side, you’d be hard pressed to tell it apart from the EXi, as it sports the same chrome grille, head­lights with day­time run­ning lights and C-shaped LED tail­lights as the 2.0-litre model. How­ever, the base DX can be dis­tin­guished from the rest of the line-up by the ab­sence of fog lights and dif­fer­ently styled wheels. With its oblique, coupé-like roofline, and low-slung, sporty pro­file, the new Civic is ar­guably the best-look­ing sa­loon

you can buy for less than Dh70,000. Even in the cabin, there isn’t any­thing much that be­trays this as a cheaper vari­ant, ex­cept the lack of a 7.0in touch­screen dis­play on the cen­tre con­sole, which has been re­placed here by a 5.0in screen with very ba­sic func­tions. The rest of the in­te­rior is as well-built and as nicely ap­pointed as other more ex­pen­sive mod­els.

One grouse I had about the top-spec Civic RS was the lack of ded­i­cated but­tons for vol­ume con­trol and the air con­di­tioner’s fan on the dash­board. This base Civic has brought both th­ese knobs back on to the con­trol panel, mak­ing it eas­ier to ac­cess and con­trol th­ese func­tions. And for a cut-price car, the Civic LX boasts many fea­tures as stan­dard in­clud­ing auto air-con­di­tion­ing, a multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel, AC vents for rear pas­sen­gers, hands-free phone con­nec­tiv­ity, USB ports for charg­ing your de­vices, key­less en­try and start, rear park­ing sen­sors, cruise con­trol and elec­tric park­ing brake.

While it’s un­der­stand­able that Honda had to take away fea­tures like the cam­era-based Lane Watch sys­tem from the higher grades and the steer­ing-mounted pad­dle shifters from the RS, I wish it hadn’t skimped on safety fea­tures. As we have said in many fea­tures ear­lier, we would rather car­mak­ers cut back on com­fort and con­ve­nience fea­tures rather than the num­ber of airbags, es­pe­cially in fam­ily cars. But un­for­tu­nately, Honda has de­cided to take away side and side cur­tain airbags from the lower grade Civic. Thank­fully, other safety tech in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity as­sist with trac­tion con­trol, anti-lock brak­ing, elec­tronic brake dis­trib­u­tor, and tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing have been re­tained here.

Although less pow­er­ful than the other two en­gines in the Civic range, the 1.6-litre has enough life in it to lug this com­pact sa­loon around with ease. In fact, for an av­er­age buyer in this class, who hasn’t driven the 2.0-litre or the 1.5-litre turbo vari­ants, this en­gine would seem ad­e­quate for al­most ev­ery sit­u­a­tion he or she would en­counter on the road.

With the ex­pan­sion of its Civic range, Honda has thrown the gaunt­let down in the C-seg­ment fam­ily sa­loon class. Now, it’s for ri­vals like Toy­ota, Kia, Hyundai, and Nis­san to take that gaunt­let up. If they don’t, they’ll likely be left watch­ing the ninth-gen­er­a­tion Civic pull the rug from un­der their feet.

For a cut-price car, the Civic LX boasts MANY fea­tures as stan­dard in­clud­ing AUTO air-con­di­tion­ing, a multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel, AC REAR VENTS, hands-free phone con­nec­tiv­ity and USB ports

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71 With its roomy cabin, oblique coupé-like roofline and low-slung, sporty pro­file, this is a good-look­ing sa­loon, in­side and out

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