Our cars: Honda Civic - September
Week ending September 28
Driven this week: 72 miles
Honda Civic review
Colleague Steve Huntingford borrowed the Civic this week and highlighted its worst weakness - ergonomics.
At 5ft 8in, Steve is around four inches shorter than me. Not a lot, but it makes a big difference behind the wheel of the Civic. No matter how he adjusts the seat and steering wheel, Steve can't find a driving position where he can see the speedo clearly, because it's obscured by the steering wheel. The horizontal bar that splits the two-part rear screen cuts right across his field of vision, too.
Other colleagues that are a similar height to Steve have reported the same problem, whereas six-footers like me haven't reported any problems. It's a fundamental design flaw that really lets down the Civic.
By Leo Wilkinson
Week ending September 21
Driven this week: 650 miles
Honda confirmed this week that a Civic Type R is due in 2015, which got me wondering what it will be like.
The indications are that it will have a turbocharged petrol engine, which will give it a very different character to previous Civic Type R models, which had a naturally aspirated VTEC engine that needed very high revs to get the best from it.
The new model is likely to be more flexible, although squeezing 250bhp or so out of a 1.6-litre engine means that it might still be rather highly strung.
I reckon the Type R will handle well, but there'll need to be some big changes to the steering. Our 2.2-litre diesel model is pretty nimble through corners, but the steering tells you little about what's going on.
Honda also announced a new Civic Ti special edition (pictured) this week. It looks like excellent value, with more kit than the 1.8 SE it's based on, but a lower list price.
Okay, the Ti's Team Dynamics alloy wheels aren't to all tastes, but I think its colour-coded wheelarches (our car has black trim) look good, especially in white.
By Leo Wilkinson
Week ending September 14
Driven this week: 371 miles
You're not seeing double. This is our Civic 2.2 i-DTEC ES and the 1.8 petrol equivalent, which is run by sister magazine Autocar's editor Jim Holder. The cars are identical in every respect, but have different engines under their bonnets. I borrowed Jim's Civic to find out which I prefer.
At low speeds, the petrol engine is much quieter, with none of the rattling and wheezing of the diesel. It's 8bhp down on power and has 130lb ft less torque, but there's not much to separate the two for performance around town because the petrol engine responds almost as eagerly in low gears.
On the motorway, the diesel feels much stronger and cruises effortlessly. The petrol engine is keen at low and high revs, but there's a flat spot at around 3000rpm, so the accelerator pedal needs frequent prodding to maintain momentum on the outside lane.
Otherwise, the two cars are almost identical to drive. You can tell the petrol version is lighter, probably because it's by a significant 97kg. With less weight to transfer from side-to-side and over bumps and potholes, it's a touch more nimble and has a slightly more forgiving ride.
The 1.8 ES costs £2115 less than its diesel counterpart and average fuel consumption is 20.2mpg worse at 47.1mpg. Jim is averaging around 45mpg in his, however, and I'm getting around 54mpg from the diesel.
Given the choice, I'd go for the diesel. It's noisier and not quite as good to drive, but if, like me, you do a lot of motorway miles I think it's a better bet.
By Leo Wilkinson
Week ending September 7
Driven this week: 290 miles
My first go in the Civic came on a recent airport run. There were various things that impressed me and various things that annoyed me, but by far the most annoying thing was the infotainment system.
Now, I'm pretty experienced when it comes to this sort of thing, and I was flabbergasted at how user-hostile the Civic's interface is. For example, when I wanted to find a radio station that wasn't in the presets, it took me a full four minutes to work out how. That's ridiculous. I didn't ever manage to pair my phone with the Bluetooth, either – I spent so long getting nowhere that I eventually gave up.