Look through every review of a Honda, and it’s almost certainly going to mention the infotainment system. From Jazz to NSX, it’s the same system and, quite frankly, it’s awful. It’s got an entirely unintuitive interface, options placed behind seemingly random menus, and a design that was outdated years ago. It’s such an awful system that I know of one person who got so frustrated that there ended up being a fist-shaped hole in the screen. But there’s been a revelation! For a reason that is entirely unclear, there’s a second user interface hidden away that is fully customisable, that looks good, and is easy(ish) to use. It’s accessible by some random pressing around the depths of unheard-of menus, a place that you could only ever find by accident. It’s such a revelation, I can’t even begin to figure out why Honda isn’t making this the default option.
It took half an hour to set up, but I’ve now got everything I need, or will ever use, on one screen, with each option easily accessible with a single press of a button. Switching radio stations is now something that doesn’t need a degree, and trip computer information is available without requiring a read of the manual. I can jump to Android Auto with a single prod of my finger, and switch to DAB radio with another press. You can even customise the background, from a photo of your family or a picture of your car, to a faux-carbon-fibre sheet.
To demonstrate the transformative effect, I had a friend join me on a short journey along the A14. I casually asked him to switch off Android Auto and tune to Radio X. That job took him more than 20 minutes to work out, and I learned a lot of new words I’d not heard before. For the return journey I asked him to perform the opposite, but with the hidden system; a couple of button presses, and maybe 15 seconds later, and the job was done. Honda, are you listening?
Technology aside, the Civic has been ploughing the nation’s motorways this month, where it’s demonstrated an unusual economy quirk. The quicker it goes, the more economical it gets. Well, to a degree. Perhaps it’s the long gearing of that nine-speed automatic gearbox, combined with the sleek saloon body, but it seems to cut through the air with less effort at 70 than it does at 60mph, with the digital economy meter showing consistently higher numbers.
The result is that average economy has improved to 50.1mpg, just a small margin below the official figure of 54.3mpg. Weirdly, the Civic itself is less optimistic, reporting that I’ve managed just 49.6mpg. Over the 3,040 miles it’s covered as I write this, I’ve used just £3.65 less fuel than it thinks, but it’s nice to have a positive surprise.
Date arrived 6th July 2019
Fuel economy 54.3mpg On Test 50.1mpg
It’s interesting how much space is freed up by not having a gear lever. There’s no extra surface area, but the cabin somehow feels more open without one.
As the nights pull in, the glowing red Engine Start/Stop button becomes more visible. Too visible. It’s like there’s a small fire by my right knee.