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Reader test: Honda Civic

2009-08-26 07:39

Tim Miller

My journey with the Civic hatch began at the Johannesburg Motor Show in 2008.

I was beckoned over to the Honda stand by a not-unattractive sales executive who assured me that my journey through life needed to include some quality time with the Championship Edition Honda Civic Type R.

To be honest, Honda had always conjured images of grey accountants in grey suits and grey shoes stoically bragging about “reliability, dependability and good solid cars” while they wished they could drive something more exciting, like a Toyota Corolla.

And then, I sat in the Type R. The dashboard was straight out of a Klingon battle cruiser. The seats embraced me like they wanted to buy me a drink and have their way with me. There were buttons and dials and glowing lights, and the ten year old inside me gleefully fell in love at first sight.

No Type R

I didn’t buy the Type R. I test drove it some months later (after recovering from having sold my kidney to afford a new car) and found that unless I wanted my remaining kidney to bleed for the rest of my life and suffer from repeated spinal breaks from the ridiculously hard ride, this simply wasn’t a practical car. Instead I bought the Civic 1.8 VTEC Hatch.

This is still a car that looks likely to take you into an aerial dogfight against the Imperial Star Fleet, then drive you to work.

The interior is modern and funky, but practical and stylish at the same time. It has everything you need within reach and the standard kit on the VXI version is excellent with a very modest options list.

The build quality is excellent; it has airbags all round, ABS, Honda’s VSA stability assist, cruise control and everything else you would expect from a mid-range family car.

What you don’t expect is to put your foot down on the accelerator and have the 1.8 VTEC engine respond quite as well as it does. It takes a little while to get going, but over 3 000 r/min it’s gutsy with all the power you could desire for every day driving or long trips.

Firm but comfortable

The six speed gear box is responsive and allows you the flexibility to find your ideal driving style depending on the situation you find yourself in. The drive is a bit firm, but it is comfortable enough and your really are grateful for the superb handling when you go into a corner.

Added to this the superb service from the Honda dealership network, the five-year service plan thrown into the price and the very inclusive spec on the car, and I have not looked back.

For less money than a 320i, you get inspirational styling, great performance and a reliable yet fun car. At the end of the day, this car makes you want to get in and drive. What more could you want?


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