Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Steve Davis, is that you?

On test... Honda Civic Hatch  1.8i-VTEC Elegance

Steve Davis. You may have heard of him. But probably not. The man from London is one of the all-time snooker greats. He’s won six world championships, was the world’s no. 1 for seven years, and has won 28 pro titles in a career that, at age 54, still continues. Stellar achievements by any standards.

So why haven’t you heard of him? Sure, snooker isn’t that big here in SA, but still, those achievements should have made him noteworthy enough to blip your radar, right? The problem with Steve… was Steve. He’s not what you’d call a compelling character. The words “flamboyant”, “exciting” and “charismatic” have, to date, never been used in the same sentence as “Steve Davis”. In fact, so dour is Steve’s demeanour that he’s actually known by the ironic nickname of “Interesting”… Steve “Interesting” Davis.

Which brings us to the Honda Civic. It has a similar reputation. The hatchback, with its futuristic styling, has tried hard to shuck the “sensible shoes of cars” reputation its sedan sibling has garnered. Somewhat unsuccessfully it must be said. You see, the hatch is like Steve Davis with a floral shirt and extra hair product.. he looks funkier, but you still know that underneath it all, it’s still Steve.

 And that’s a good thing. Because that means the Civic is a car you want to own. No really. It’s an automobile without any discernible weakness. It will sink the black ball every time. It’s the epitome of Get The Job Done. Let’s pot a few balls and tick a few boxes shall we…

Build quality. Hey. It’s a Honda and that means its bullet proof.

Engine. We tested the 1.8-litre petrol car (also available as a 2.2-litre diesel). It’s an upgraded four-cylinder i-VTEC engine good for 104 kW of power at 6500 rpm and 174 Nm of torque at 4300 rpm. Not the most powerful engine. But powerful enough.

Tech, It features Honda’s ECO Assist illuminated dashboard system to tell you how fuel efficient your driving is. It glows green for good, bad blue for bad. There’s also a green dash-mounted Econ switch which, when pushed, will activate the best throttle response and air-conditioning settings to save fuel.

Interior. It has the previous gen’s fighter pilot cockpit feel, but looks a step up in quality with soft-touch materials and leather in the exec model. It’s also learned a trick from its Jazz stablemate… a “magic seat” rear set up that offers near miraculous cargo space when configured.

Handling. We’ve saved the best for last … the new Civic manages a remarkable feat. Through the corners it manages to be both lithe and supple, without any discernible body roll. It’s sure-footed and precise sans the usual bone-shuddering suspension stiffness this requires.

It’s an Impressive car this. Exciting? No, but if you’re looking for a go-to vehicle that’s ultra-reliable, efficient, and immaculately screwed together, this is the one. It’s a bit like Steve Davis’ legendary perfect break back in 1982 – the first televised broadcast of someone consecutively potting every single ball (all 15 reds with 15 blacks, followed by all six colours) for a total of 147 points.It was helluva interesting to watch.

The Honda Civic Hatch range starts at R248 000

**review as appeared in the Sept issue of Khuluma, the Kulula in-flight magazine.