Get orf moy laaaaaand
Civic proves surprisingly adept when the road runs out, and continues to excel in its natural habitat. By Colin Overland
in the Civic. It wasn’t exactly the plan, but when a country lane changes into a forest track and then just a rutted field, and when you’ve got to deliver a festival-hungry teenager to the other side of the field, you just keep on going. And it turns out the Civic is perfectly happy to join in the fun. Nothing wild and crazy, but brisk enough, and perfectly safe and comfortable, and with no damage to the car (or nothing that’s come to light yet, anyway). In some parts of the world, this is what most roads are like, and most cars are able to deal with them happily enough without all-wheel drive or stiffened suspension; I sometimes wonder at the first-world whinging that accompanies any sighting of a pothole or cracked tarmac.
Anyway, this field was the mid-point of an illuminating journey from the Midlands to Sussex and back again, 250-ish miles on a hot summer day, mostly on motorways. Illuminating because the fuel consumption varied a lot with the conditions: about 37mpg in the stop-start clog of the journey down, via Heathrow, but a more typical 42mpg on the freer-flowing journey back, using an unusually quiet Dartford Crossing and up the eastern side of the M25. With its light and easily modulated controls, that sweet 1.5-litre turbo engine, and its decent visibility, the Civic’s an easy car to drive in heavy traffic – but it can develop a bit more of a thirst, just like any other car.
The trip was also illuminating because we found ourselves surprised how hot it was outside when we got out of the car, destination reached. The climate control had done a very good job of keeping us at the required 18ºC, when outside it was in the high twenties.
And it was illuminating because the Civic was entirely comfortable throughout the whole journey. It’s not plush or clever, but it works. It’s on dull motorway journeys like this
that I tend to become conscious of any deficiencies in support or adjustment, but the Civic’s turned out to be really very good, and not just for me. My only complaint is that on some surfaces, notably concrete, tyre noise is intrusive.
Meanwhile, I seem to have dialled out most of the many electronic driver aids that have intrigued me so much since I started driving the Civic four months ago. It’s not been a conscious decision, but I suspect it’s down to a combination of factors: a) the active cruise control is a bit jerky when it decides you need to slow down; ditto the lane-keeping tech; b) the novelty’s worn off; and c) the car is so easy to drive that you don’t really need any help to feel completely in control of it.
Sussex ield (above) no problem for the normally more tarmac-based Civic