Friday 23 March 2018

Cars: How I put Honda's mpg claim to real-world test

I could have done better in Civic Si

Honda Civic
Honda Civic
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I've noticed a groundswell of discussion and focus on miles per gallon again. Fuel prices are lower than they have been for some time and cars are becoming meaner and greener. Yet there is more talk about fuel consumption now than there was when prices were raging.

I think we have begun to drive a lot more now that things are lifting a bit and are conscious of filling the tank more often, perhaps.

And more people are commuting further to work - and glad it is there to go to. All of which, I must presume, is contributing to such a renewed focus on MPG. Engines are vital in this area, of course, but we drivers overlook our own part too - as we'll see.

I find myself watching the figures because so many people get on to me for not doing my own measurements rather than taking the manufacturers' word for it.

I picked a decent one to start with. The 1.6 litre diesel in the Honda Civic Si has built a name for itself in a short time, with all sorts of records claimed and 60+mpg regarded as readily achievable.

I think we all need a reality check here; 60mpg is a serious return. We've become blasé about 45mpg and 50mpg - both excellent returns in our real world and not in some technically-controlled test.

I think my driving history in the Si version of the Civic was typical enough, though a major share of the mileage came from a long journey to the west and back.

But there was much tipping around town and short motorway journeys. Even that great, fully-laden drive to mark a special day in the western parts of awesome Galway had a variety of driving. Anyway, Honda claim the 1.6 litre diesel I had on test is the lightest and most advanced of its type in the world.

In my Civic Si, they say it needs just 3.7 litres to cover 100km. That is 76.4mpg. What do you reckon I got?

The Si, by the way, is a specially spruced-up version for those who want, but can't afford the real thing (TYPE R performance car I assume).

It looks 'sporty' and you could claim it is worth the few bob extra. I liked it in blue as well as little bits of visual sharpness and cabin touches.

The four of us, all adults, had decent room in the cabin with my tallest daughter opting for the back seat on the way down and not complaining about being cramped.

There was also a fair bit of luggage (don't know why) for the large boot.

Generally speaking I was grand as we scooted along, but I am still not happy with how their infotainment system, 7ins touchscreen interface and all, works.

I found it confusing and, as I've said before, counter intuitive.

I'm over the bit of a blot on the rear-screen - the laterally divided window has no visibility issues for me anymore.

I didn't need to, but anyone looking for how a car's flexibility can be adapted to their own needs, should try a Civic.

Its 'magic seats' allow a huge number of configurations. They lift or fold over and lock into place. Obviously they split 60:40 but the great thing is how easily they can take tall or long loads. With those rear seats folded, you get a whopping 1,210 litres of space.

We had a wonderful day. The driving wasn't bad either. I reset the fuel consumption monitoring system a few times and kept coming up with much the same average figure.

It was five litres per 100kms. Which, my reliable convertor, tells me is 56.5mpg. Considering the claimed return is 76.4mpg did I feel cheated or let down? Not a bit of it. If you take into account passenger numbers, luggage, speed, variety of driving, gear-change etc, over the week or so, I'd take the 56.5mpg any day. It is impressive.

However, I know I could have done better, with a little care, and got at least 60mpg.

Which goes to prove, as ever, that we all burn MPG out the tailpipe with our heavy right feet. Just think of the money you can save by taking things even a little easier.

Facts & figures

Honda Civic Si, 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel, 1,597cc, 120bhp, 98g/100km, €180 annual road tax, 3.7litres/100km (76.4mpg is claimed), 50-litre tank.

Prices for Si start from €26,795 (range begins at €21,895). Remember, delivery and related charges are extra.

Equipment includes 'Si' adornments such as 17ins sport alloys, black roof/pillar lining, alloy pedals, cruise control with speed limiter, 7ins touchscreen, six speakers, Bluetooth, Honda infotainment system, parking sensors, rear-parking camera, electric windows, dual-zone climate control.

My side of the road

Oh my goodness, if only we could bottle the feeling of tolerance and good manners last Saturday night, we'd never have a road accident. I was in, and driving around, Dublin centre after the Yes vote and I  couldn't believe the courtesy shown to me - and everyone else - by other drivers on packed streets. So let's, by example, vote Yes for tolerance on our roads too.

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