This past weekend the lovely boys and girls down at Honda gave me the opportunity to take the new 2013 model of the Honda Civic out for a test drive, so I thought I'd write a little review of my experience driving the car round town, and a little further afield too.
I'm not going to really go into technical specifications and such, but inspired by Jeremy Clarkson, I thought I'd have a go at putting the car through some real life situations you might actually experience while driving a car here in Muscat and commenting on that. Because, after all, gas mileage economy is really not a major issue here (but having said that, it was pretty economical on the mileage)!
So, Mrs Sythe and I devised a series of Muscat tests to see how the Civic shaped up to life on the road here, and here's the results:
1. How long does it take the A/C to blow cold from a cold start? We picked the car up at 3pm and it was fairly hot, and so of course the AC needed to be on right away. It started blowing cold just 5 seconds after we turned the AC on, and the car was cooled down to the point of shivering by the time we drove past Sarooj (after picking the car up in Wattayah). We thought that was pretty good going.
2. Can it go up the steep (and short) ramps to the "creative parking areas" at the Shatti shopping area? It handled this with ease, no scraping of the under-carriage at all, meaning you might actually have a shot at finding somewhere to park your car in the evenings in Shatti. Or perhaps need to find one of the more adventurous parking spots in Ruwi.
3. Does it fit in a MGM parking spot, and how about the ramps? The car has a backup camera which made reverse parking really easy - there were no proximity sensors, but with the reverse camera it made things really easy, and there was plenty of space either side. We also took the car all the way up to the Cinema level parking (meaning you go up the ramps that are built for small cars only!!) and it handled these fine, lots of space on all sides.
4. Can it go 100KM/H uphill from Ruwi with the A/C on full? With 2 adults and a baby (in a car seat that fitted comfortably in the car) the car had no problems at all maintaining 100KM/H going up hill from Ruwi towards Qurum Heights.
5. Does it feel comfortable at 100KM/H joining the Sultan Qaboos Highway from the Qurum Heights road where it bends, just before the Opera House? Having driven a wide range of cars here in Muscat over the years, there's been some cars I've just not felt comfortable in at 100KM/H on that right turn just before merging with the Sultan Qaboos Highway (SQH), but we both found the handling of this car to be pretty good and had no concerns at all in taking the turn at the posted speed limit.
6. Does it have blue tooth for phones? With the ROP finally starting to crack down on people using their phones while driving, having hands free built into the car is a big plus, saving the need to buy an after market device to fit into your car. The bluetooth system worked really well, and within 2 minutes I had my Android phone hooked up to the car and had granted it access to my call history and phone book, meaning I could see who was calling me on the in-dash screen.
7. Is the acceleration enough to get on the highway on short on-ramps? We tried out the on-ramp to SQH by the Macdonalds in Khuwair from a slow crawling start, and we were up to 100 KM/H before we left the merging lane - so no problems there.
8. What does it do when you pass 120 KM/H? Unlike a lot of cars, all that happens is a single "ding" and a little light showing you've crossed 120 KM/H shows on the dash - no repeating dings (which I find make me sleepy), or intermittent dings either - a nice touch.
9. How does it do on the beach / graded tracks? The suspension on the car is surprisingly good, we found it handled an impromptu trip to the beach with ease (for examples of this, check out Ghubra Beach in the evenings) and even when we ventured into some suspiciously soft sand, we didn't get stuck. We drove down to Seifa, and popped into the Sifawy hotel, of which the access is a graded track, and had no problems at all driving along the track, no crazy vibrations or bouncing up and down - it handled things fine.
10. How comfortable is it for long drives? While we didn't take the car to Dubai, we did decide to drive down to Seifa and back, and we took our time & spent about 2 and a half hours in the car. I'm over 6'2 and could definitely stand to lose weight, and I was comfortable the entire time - so its definitely a comfortable ride. The cruise control system was also really effective and easy to use with the controls mounted on the steering wheel that made highway driving very simple.
Thats it for the special tests, we enjoyed ourselves doing it and if you are in the market for a new car, and this model is in your target market, then you should at the very least go and check it out. We found that the split-dash was a bit strange at first, but just like the Yaris - you get used to the different-from-traditional dash very quickly, and by the end we found we actually liked it a lot.
Here's a video shot in Dubai showing the new Civic.
Prices start at RO 6,995 and go up to RO 9,200 for the "Number 1" models, with a 3 year warranty as well. For more information you can check their Facebook page, or click here for the official website with more information.