Well, here are the initial impressions on my 2010 FD1, after 10 days of ownership and the first kms made together.
Please note that this is a fully personal view; I am just a car owner and not a journalist. Also, please note that English is not my native language, so please excuse any mistakes.
First, looks. I like it a lot. It is not OTT, it has subtle sporty character and nice flowing lines. Definitely a tick on my list.
The inside is a bit downgraded. There is black almost everywhere. OK, this is not the worst thing in the world, but Honda could do with a bit more colour, especially if we consider that the rest of the market have made interior design a form of art. Also, the plastic bits seem a bit cheap, although everything seems well put together and until now there are no noises from loose joints.
The seats are comfortable and with a plethora of seating options, so one can find the position that he's looking for pretty easy. Unfortunately, me that wants the sportiest position possible, should do with the steering wheel a bit lower than I would really like, because the upper half of the 'wheel blocks the upper half of the displays (tachometer, water temp. and fuel level) as well as the lower display bar (i.e. consumption meter etc). Also, general design of the front seats is made towards comfort rather than body constraint when cornering, so in esses or sharp corners, one is hauled from one end of the seat to the other. I guess I should put on some weight
. I should not complain about the seating position though, my other car is a Suzuki Swift Sport and the seating position is much worse (appart from the body constraint, this is superb).
Continuing in the inside, there is enough room for pretty much everybody; yesterday we made a small trip four grown-ups and a toddler on a appropriate seat and nobody complained about the available space. Also, there are plenty compartments for about everything. Boot size (410lt) is cavernous for my standards.
Off to the most interesting stuff. The engine (R18A) is super and the PHE4 gearbox the best to compliment it. The gear ratios
are as close together as they should be so as the R18A is able to easily move the 1200kg (plus the weight of passengers, plus fuel etc) of the vehicle. I really like the eco-shift light, it's fun. It would be really cool if we could switch it to sport mode. The gear lever is punctual, very well positioned and the gear change movements very short. Also, the clutch is punctual, minimal movement needed for engagement and the pedal feels exactly right.
Now, steering. The steering wheel is a bit thin for my taste, I could do with a more firm grip for more sportier feeling. But, this is not to blame for the lack of feeling. The electronic steering rack provides minimal information on what the wheels out front are doing. Yes, steering is light and so even my 1.5 year old daughter can handle it in city limits, but I would really like it to be a bit more informative. Still, if we disregard this, steering is sharp and all the needed orders are passed to the wheels lightning-fast.
Due to the latter, the FD1 changes direction pretty fast. This is also helped by the other great asset of the car, the suspension. Multilink on the back, great success. One can feel
the chassis handle its weight with great ease. No, the suspension is not "magic carpet" type (like a Mercedes for instance) and on worn tarmac some bumps are transcended in the cabin, but the weight is controlled superbly, body roll is not excessive and the FD1 can be handled with ease. Of course, the basic set up is understeer-y (for safety reasons) and if pushed the FD1 will warn the driver with a slight slip of the front end, but this is very easily controlled, sometimes all that is needed is a bit more imput from the 'wheel. I haven't yet turned VSA off, but even with it on, the FD1 can be positioned before the apex very easily, thanks to the accurate steering and the balanced suspension. I guess that with even sportier rubber (mine has 215/55-16 Dunlop SP Fastresponse on) and maybe 17-inch wheels, everything will be even more sharper and the FD1 could become even more sporty, albeit worsening comfort.
The brakes are good. I would really like the brake pedal to be perfectly aligned with the gas pedal (it feels positioned a bit more on the outside) but it provides positive feeling. The performance of the brakes is good, but I would really like a bit more information and initial bite. As yet, I have not tested their endurance.
In general, it feels like a much smaller and lighter car and this is a huge credit to Honda. Don't get me wrong, on the highway it is as firm as it should be (the steering also becomes more heavy, although the added weight feels more artificial than natural) and it travels like the family sedan it really is. But in city limits and on the B-Road, it really feels light and energetic. Yes, everything feels a bit soft but this is something that one must expect, this is not a sport model. It is a car with great potential and it can be a great all-rounder.
Until now, I haven't measured fuel consumption.
My FD1 is the ES trim in Greece, i.e. MT 6 speed R18A powered, with HID lights, headlight washers, fog lights, 6 disc CD changer, dual zone air con, 16" alloys, cruise control and maybe some other stuff I don't remember now.