The evenings are really dark as I write this, with a seemingly endless gloom descending on Cambridgeshire as early as 2pm, before darkness finally settles at the end of the workday. As I spend a lot of my time zipping around the country driving all sorts of cars, it means I’m out in the dark quite frequently, relying on the headlights of whatever car I’m driving at the time. Sometimes I’m lucky, and it’s a car with the latest LED matrix system that can shine daylight ahead of me without dazzling oncoming traffic. Sometimes it’s a ‘modern classic’ with lights that are more akin to candles. The Honda Civic’s headlights fall somewhere between the two extremes. The headlights are LED units, with daytime running lights, but they’re not the fully adaptive matrix-style units.
There is, however, the High Beam Support System. This utilises the camera mounted at the top of the windscreen to figure out if there’s a vehicle ahead and, if there isn’t and you’re travelling at more than around 30mph, it’ll flick the high beam lights on. When a vehicle approaches from the other direction, the system will quickly flick the lights off. In theory. The reality is somewhat different. I’m beginning to think the system operates entirely on guesswork, flicking the lights on and off as if a random number generator has picked an odd or even number. Last night I followed a BMW 3 Series for five minutes or so, and all was fine. Then, for no apparent reason, the car decided to light it up like a Christmas tree. As I flail around trying to cancel the unexpected high beam, I ended up flashing the car an extra couple of times. If I’d have been in a remote car park, I dread to think what might have happened. At other times the lights flash on and off like it’s having a private disco, to the extent that I imagine the indicators are going too, just to add some colour. In seemingly identical conditions, the high beams resolutely refuse to illuminate, despite there not being a vehicle within sight in any direction. I’d turn the system off, but it just turns back on again next time I get in the car. There might be a menu option in the system settings somewhere, but that would mean trying to navigate Honda’s infotainment system and it’s probably quicker to just wait until it gets light again.
Despite the glitch, I’m still really liking the Civic saloon. It seems to have levelled out on economy, averaging around 50.3mpg (the onboard computer is still pessimistic and tells me it’s 49.9mpg), while the slightly softer suspension and relaxed nature of the diesel engine and gearbox mean it’s a calming car to drive. Even the lane keep assist is useful, allowing those long motorway drives to be made slightly easier in combination with the adaptive cruise control. They combine particularly well in queueing traffic, making the M25‘s regular car park simulation pass by with little input or stress. That the semi-autonomous system works so well makes the headlight system’s ineptitude all the more baffling.
Date arrived 6th July 2019
Fuel economy 54.3mpg On Test 50.3mpg
As the temperatures drop to sub-zero levels, the heated seats that heat not only the base, but the back, are appreciated. And rear-seat passengers appreciate the same.
The high-level brake light isn’t seemingly quite aligned to the rear window, so you can see the red glow from the light in the rear-view mirror. It still catches me by surprise.