Too Civilized

Hi there! How are you good and lovely folks today? Yes, I'm still alive but rather busy, that's an understatement but I think I'm ready to blog again, slowly. So, please bear with me yeah. I would like to start my first blog with a test, a road test.

About a week ago, Malaysia witnesses the launch of the all brand spanking new 8th generation 2006 Honda Civic. Yes, for those of you petrolheads out there, this is perhaps the most anticipated new car launch since BMW showed their new 3-series. Why such excitement? Well, as you know the previous 6th and 7th generation cars have gone the way of the dodo. The average civic buyer was between 30s - 40s age group, kinda like what retirees like the drive, heck, my uncle in his 70s got a civic too. The overall package have also gone boring, a little too safe, too blend, like eating plain porridge at TGIF. All in all, the previous civics was too down to earth.

Honda notices it and they say the new one will be exciting, they say, it is revolutionary, they say it will be hip and stylish for the young and mad, they say the new car is all that the old car wasn't and they are saying alot. Well, lets take a look, its profile, all slick and indeed stylish, from its back sweeping headlights, the low roof line, those big 16 inch tyres and round off with four big red brake lights, just like a Integra or a Type R.

Then you have the interior, one look and you wouldn't be wrong to mistaken it for a spaceship, a split digital speedo meter at the top, and a rpm at the bottom, a momo-ish sporty steering wheel, smaller then the conventional, just so you know. An intergrated audio / digital aircon is lovely and the new civic is iPod friendly too, it comes with an aux outlet for your MP3 player, so, who needs a CD changer. The leg and head room is ample and well spaced just as long as you are not 6ft tall. Boot room is not a problem, good enough for three golf bags, so, that means more shopping bags as well. Great right? Yes and then some.

To me, the most important thing about a car, is its engine. Honda says, the new 1.8 SOHC engine have the performance of the 2.0 liter car yet have the fuel economy of a 1.5 liter, amazing you think. To increase fuel economy, Honda has also taken steps to reduce friction in the engine. Piston skirts are coated with Molybdenum disulfide, and oil rings are ion-plated to ensure reduced friction. This provides a 10% reduction in friction. Yeah, I've got no idea what's that but it tells me that Honda did put in lots of R&D hours to make a perfect engine. Bless.

Well, I say there have been too much hype on the engine bit and here is why. The problem with it, was that the engine did not have a smooth power delivery. At low gears 1st and 2nd, there was a brief pause before a lugging engine power rushing out of the driveshaft like a bloke with wasabi in his pants. Completely unsmooth and unrefine, its like driving a Proton Gen2, yes, it was that bad.

Why so, because of the single cam, SOHC, unlike the twin cam, DOHC which have a more controlled power delivery, the SOHC engines just can't deliver on demand and it just comes out all juvenile-ish. At the top end, the engine is noisey as it tried to pump up more power, doublely sad. Call me judgemental but Bun Bun and Turbo T who was with me at the test drive agreed to this analysis as well. Honda is promising a little too much and too much hype to live up to all those promises, shame there.

The 1.8 model is priced at RM117K on the road (OTR), cheap as it maybe but it does not come with leather, cruise control, stereo remote control, tiptronic, flappy paddles, 6 CD changer, chrome fittings, Xenon HID lights, keyless remote entry and hydrophilic door mirrors with signal lights. For that package, you got to get the RM131K OTR 2.o liter version. I think it is a little too much to pay, yet another disappointment. I curse the local packaging opitions which is none, no choice, you either have A or B or C, no AB or CB. For the 1.8 model, you are paying the R&D costs, all those late night sushi sessions at Honda, go figure.

I think to drive the Civic well, you will need to be a little civilized, light on the foot, easy on the gas and drive carefully like you would in Sweden, but here in traffic choked mad jam roads, being civilized or Swedish just will not cut the mustard. I prefer on demand instant power delivery when you need to go and go quickly to escape a traffic gridlock and the Civic just will not do. I still think the car is good but the overall package is incomplete and will leave you unsatisfied on the long run. I wouldn't be trading my Toyota for the Honda anytime soon then. Cheers!