So the driver from Honda got me again before I could take him back to the train station I had to start the car, I searched around for the start button but it was a good old fashioned key in the ignition job, the driver didn’t say a word but he must have been dying to laugh J . The car he had delivered was a Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC ES-T Manual in Milano Red I had been waiting to test this car as it has a claimed MPG is 78.5, the road tax is free. It has an excellent specification, and what started off as a girls car in 1972 has evolved into a car whose target market is predominantly 45-year-old males, if you add VAT that includes me too, erm nearly.
The good folk at Honda are obviously big Doctor Who fans as the last car I tested was the CRV and in the information, they referred to its Tardis-like interior and their “Man maximum, machine minimum” philosophy, they have applied the same philosophy to the Civic, although it just seems common sense to me that as engineering advances, components get smaller in size and can handle more operations, this means they can be crammed into tighter spaces leaving more room for the driver, passengers, and luggage. Granted that could be an over simplification as the latest Civic is 30 inches longer,10 Inches Wider and 5 Inches higher than the Mk 1 which first graced the roads in the UK 30 years ago.
Whilst I’m on the subject I can’t help thinking that the new Civic bears a striking resemblance to Doctor Who’s most fearsome enemy “The Daleks”. Even though the Daleks appeared to be equipped with a gearstick and a couple of indicators on their heads, and armed only with a toilet plunger and an egg whisk, they still gave me nightmares when I was a Kid. I use to wake up screaming, but I consoled myself with the fact that Daleks couldn’t climb stairs, and even if they could they would get my Sister first, as she slept in the bottom bunk bed. I just thank God that the task of creating the Daleks hadn’t been given to Hondas design team, as there can surely be no place to hide from Asimo the World’s most advanced Humanoid Robot.
The new Civic is being built only as a 5 Door, as they feel that it fulfils the need of “5 door utility and 3 Door styling” I can confirm they have succeeded in this as when I went to pick my mate up, he tried to get in the back seats via the front doors. When I told him it was a 5 door he still couldn’t figure out how to get in (the handle is incorporated in the rear window frame) to be fare my mate is an ex-pro footballer and he did use to head the ball a lot.
Don’t ask me how, or indeed why? but using inspiration taken from the beauty of a droplet of water on top of a leaf, an Airplane, and low resistance swimsuits, Honda’s design team came up with the external shape for the Civic. I must admit it is a great looking car and It’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into making the car as aerodynamic as possible. Sadly I don’t think the Bright Red colour does it justice.
Enzo Ferrari famously said that “Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines” however when you look at the specification and improvements that have been made to their “Earth Dreams Technology” 1.6 i-DTEC Diesel unit it’s clear that Honda CAN build engines, and they counter with “Aerodynamics have only advantages” if you improve aerodynamics, it improves fuel consumption, driving performance, dynamic performance. Honda has taken their theory to the N’th degree by enlisting the help of engineers who had firsthand experience in Formula One. Like race cars the Civic is now fitted with a full-length undertray to manage the flow of air under the car, adding to its stability.
They have also introduced a shutter grille on the new diesel which is controlled by the water temperature, wheel speed, and outside air temperature, the shutter opens and closes to optimise cooling and reduce drag wherever possible. “Generally speaking the shutter is closed at medium speeds to ensure maximum fuel efficiency. At low speeds, where Aerodynamics are less critical the shutter remains open (I assume to improve cooling ie traffic jams etc ) To ensure the best possible aerodynamic balance and reduce front end lift the shutter also opens at high speed.
The interior is spacious, futuristic, well set out and very comfortable, it has been designed to have two “Control Zones” the Driver Interface Zone and the Information Interface Zone. The LED Digital speedometer is visible over the top of the steering wheel, and the less important instruments are in a cluster below, which you may have to adjust your position if you need to keep an eye on them. I love the blue glow of the “Driver Interface Zone” (Instrument display), although at night on a badly lit road I found it necessary to seek out the dimmer switch, as the steep rake of the front windscreen reflects the glow and casts a kind of Northern Lights/Mirror Image Heads Up Display effect in front of your eyes which can be quite distracting.
The Civic has a claimed range of 863 miles on a tank of fuel, and I must admit that after a while you start to think that the car is making its own diesel and you don’t need to put any in, that is until the fuel warning “lights” come on, yes “lights”, not 1 but 3 illuminate. In my video I stated that anyone that runs out of fuel in this car must be a moron, I nearly managed it! So you can draw your own conclusions from that.
78.5 MPG, Expect to see more Fuel Stations Fall Into Disrepair
When the dash lit up like a Christmas tree to tell me I needed to fill up, I was probably as far as it’s possible to be from a fuel station in England, so I carried on heading in the same direction. I started to get a bit worried and selected “Fuel Stations” under the Points of Interest section on the Sat Nav then followed the directions to find that I was now on zero range and the Petrol Station was closed for refurbishing. Obviously, Honda have made their system foolproof as I still managed to get to another station which was 10 miles away, but I’m thinking that 3 warning lights just aren’t enough and they need to incorporate some kind of electric shock system through the steering wheel.
Honda was determined to reduce noise intrusion into the cabin and they devised an entirely new intensive test program. The test focused not just on reducing overall noise levels, but also on minimising the contrast between the different frequencies of noise reaching the driver’s ear from outside the cabin due to varying road surfaces, for example.
Noise was measured during the following eight scenarios:
- Upon entering the car
- When starting the engine
- When initially pulling away
- Whilst crawling in traffic
- Driving at low speeds in urban traffic
- Under hard acceleration
- Driving on rough surfaces
- Driving at motorway speeds
I added a ninth one, in the video at 5 mins 30 seconds the Eurofighter flew over me, and thanks to the Pilots from Warton Aerodrome who I assume were targeting the dog dick red Civic to practice missile lock on, I was able to conclude that Honda hasn’t just filled all the cavities on the car with sound deadening felt, they’ve actually reduced wind noise and made all the components and running gear on the car quieter, otherwise the noise from being buzzed by the Jet wouldn’t have penetrated the cabin and scared the crap out of me nearly increasing wind noise to a very unacceptable level in my trousers.
I really enjoyed the week I spent with the Honda, I tried my best to wring the full 78.5 MPG out of the Earth Dreams I-DTEC engine but I failed and could only manage a disappointing 56.5. I say disappointing but if that had been in any other car I was driving I would have been over the moon!
One of my favorite driving roads in England is the Penrith to Windermere section of the A592. It’s a very well constructed road, it snakes through some beautiful countryside, and the road planners have got the speed limits just right, that is for everyone except the Sunday Drivers who tend to use it. Driving the road in the Civic was a great experience, the steering is taut and precise, the cockpit makes you feel like you’re behind the wheel of a racing car, and the car just scythes through the bends with the minimum of correction, I really had to watch my speed, the engine is torquey, the gear ratios perfectly matched, in the back of my mind I imagine the voice of a Dalek, Accelerate! Accelerate! as I set the car up for the next sweeping bend, and steer in.
With the claimed range of 863 miles you could get from Lands End to John O’Groats without having to stop for diesel, if I had a Civic my Sunday Drives would be a dam site more affordable, and certainly more enjoyable.