Which is better – Honda Civic vs Tata Harrier?

When Honda launched the 8th generation Civic in India, it floored Indian buyers with its stunning exterior, interior and strong engine. Its contenders were rather staid in comparison, for the Civic seemed like a breath of fresh air. Honda even managed to price the car sensibly, but once the craze of SUVs took over the market, things began to change and Honda eventually stopped production of the model in 2013. In 2019, Honda skipped the 9th generation car, and launched the 10th generation model in India. Will this model revive this segment once again – and moreover – will it pip the hugely capable and well-equipped Tata Harrier in our comparison test? We find out.

Design

While the old Civic looked pretty in its own way, the 10th generation model is no less of a looker either. The coupe-like, sloping roofline and the stubby boot give it a very stylish persona. Adding some sportiness to the design are those 17-inch alloy wheels. At the front, it boasts of the signature Honda grille, flanked by stylish LED headlamps that gets DRL strips outlining the lower half of the headlight. It gets an up-sweeping beltline on the sides, while the rear features C-shaped tail lights and a raked rear windscreen. The Civic is in no way disproportionate; in fact, it’s quite the head-turner.

The Harrier is one, proper-looking SUV, with the high-set bonnet, the in-your-face grille, flanked by slender LED DRLs while the headlights sit in the lower portion of the bumper. All these details give the Harrier what is easily the most aggressive front fascia on an SUV. Along the sides, it gets diamond-cut alloy wheels, pumped-up wheel arches and a blacked out C-pillar section, giving it the effect of a floating roof. And the tail lights at the rear look slender and blend well with the gloss-black trim.

Interiors

The cabin of the new Honda Civic looks contemporary alright, but lacks the wow factor of the older car. The cabin is well designed and ergonomics are top-notch. The quality of plastics leaves no room for criticism and the dashboard and door pads feel quite up-market. The 7.0-inch infotainment system tends to lag a little though. We particularly like the digital instrument cluster, and various functions can be accessed via the steering mounted controls. Because of the low-set seats, ingress and egress is a bit bothersome, but the driver’s seat offers good comfort and can be electrically adjusted. Under-thigh support could’ve been better though. You get a good view from the driver’s seat as well. At the back, you are seated in utmost comfort with ample legroom and good support from the seats. Tall occupants, however, will find headroom a bit of a squeeze due to the swooping roofline. It’s best if no more than two occupants are seated at the back. As far as bottle and cup holders are concerned, there is no shortage. Boot space, at 430 litres, is not large but sufficient.

In the Harrier, you’re greeted by very impressive quality levels. The 2020 models get an auto dimming inner rear view mirror, panoramic sunroof, new door mirrors and electric controls for the driver’s seat. The dashboard looks solid with a layer of oak-wood coloured trim and oak-brown leather upholstery, all adding up to a premium feel. And the floating unit for the touchscreen and air-con controls is a nice touch. There are lots of stowage spaces around, and the fit and finish seems to have improved on the updated model. Space inside the Harrier is never lacking, the seats are huge and supportive and there’s loads of legroom and headroom. Among the two, the Harrier has the bigger boot at 425 litres.

Features

The Tata Harrier gets features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming inner mirror, electric adjust for the driver’s seat, diamond-cut alloys, nine JBL speakers and an amplifier, corner stability control, off road ABS, hill descent control, hill hold, stability control, 6 airbags, rear parking sensors with a camera and ESP.

In the Civic, you get equipment like auto dimming rear view mirror, electronic parking brake with auto hold, dual zone climate control, keyless go, sunroof, ESP, 6 airbags, ABS and Lane-Watch function.

Performance & Handling

The Harrier uses a BS6 Kryotec 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine that puts out 168bhp and 350Nm of torque, paired to 6-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the older model, the updated Harrier is quieter. Dab on the throttle, and it moves ahead smoothly. Power delivery is linear and the engine feels responsive after 1500rpm. As the revs climb, however, the engine gets vocal. And the auto ‘box shifts effortlessly. The motor feels more relaxed in Eco mode. Thanks to the flexibility of the engine, you can pull in the same gear. The steering is light but responsive and makes manoeuvring the Harrier a doddle. The Harrier handles well too, and bad roads are taken care of without any fuss.

We driving the Civic with a 1.8-litre petrol engine that makes 142bhp and is mated to a CVT gearbox. Start up the motor, and you’ll hardly be able to hear it. The CVT works and feels well suited to the nature of the engine. There’s a linear build of power on part throttle, and overtaking is a breeze. The motor feels strained at 5500rpm. Even the paddle-shifters can be used for those who love driving. The ride quality is very impressive, particularly at low speeds and soaks in bumps well. It does feel a bit firm at times, but doesn’t get uncomfortable. It stays composed at high speeds too, but tyre noise tends to creep into the cabin. And the best part being, the new Civic doesn’t scrape its belly against speed breakers like the older car. At high speeds, the car stays planted and is very stable. The Civic is an engaging car to drive and while the steering lacks feedback, it weighs up nicely and pretty accurate.

Opinion

The Civic cannot disappoint, for it is car that has a set of strengths that are hard to ignore – like its stylish design, well equipped cabin, supple ride quality and good driving dynamics, but the Harrier, with its comfortable and spacious cabin, massive road presence, new features and improved driving dynamics makes it a rather tempting deal. We’d say both these cars impress in their respective ways; it really depends on whether you want an SUV or a nice, sporty sedan. This time, we’ll let you pick.

Author
Ayush Khanna