For those of you interested in finding out how comfy the Civic is over long distances I set out on Friday night for England from Hungary (a total of 1715km or 1066 miles). Arrived in West Sussex on Sunday evening after spending a night in Linz, Austria and then one in Aachen on the German/Belgian border.
Firstly, for the whole trip in my 1.8 i-Vtec, I averaged 7.2 litres of fuel per 100km (which is approx 39.3 mpg). Not bad at all considering I have winter tyres fitted, it involved some spirited autobahn driving and, on a couple of occasions, we hit stretches of heavy, slow moving traffic.
Filling up with Shell V-Power initially (with an octane rating of 100) we encountered heavy fog straight out of Budapest. Indeed, it was pretty awful for the whole period up to the Austrian border. This gave me my first opportunity to use the front and rear fogs though which, bearing in mind how bad visibility was, get a big thumbs up
The stalk logically toggles between the front fog setting, rear only, both on together and off. The front fogs also give a good spread of light across the road, with very little being reflected back at the driver.
Of course, getting into Austria requires you to be carrying snow chains during winter, along with two fluorescent safety vests. I bought the chains in Hungary before I went I set off for the equivalent of £19, only to find that yesterday (in a Sussex Halfords) they're selling them for £54!!!!!!!! You also need a motorway vignette (highway toll charge sticker) which lasts for 10 days. Uneventful all the way through, the fact that Austria only has a population of 8 million ensures that traffic congestion (Vienna aside) is rarely a problem. I have to say though that Austrian motorways aren't the best quality!!
Once in Germany things got altogether more interesting. Of course, with the 130km limit being the recommended/advised speed on autobahns (unless signed otherwise), there's a great temptation to see what the Civic can do. This is quickly tempered, however, by the fact that the outside lane of the highway is the natural habitat for BMWs, Audis, Porches and Mercedes (of which the vast majority effortlessly cruise along in excess of 200km/h). When accidents do happen though, the aftermath is often a grim and sombre lesson to rubber necking drivers. Our (only) hold up was no exception, with a 4 x 4 and trailer combo having overturned on the carriageway. Bad enough in itself, but on this occasion, the trailer had been carrying a brand new Range Rover which was now lying on its roof!
As far as the driving experience goes, certainly one thing I've noticed about the i-Vtec engine is that it gets quite boomy under acceleration at about 4000 rpm. This encourages you to change up, although, if you let the revs rise further, the engine note (at 4,500 rpm+) changes back to a much more pleasing (and smooth sounding) growl. Indeed, in fifth at 4,000 rpm the Civic's noise levels can become tiresome, but press on in the same gear and the car becomes quieter again with the boom gently fading away. No doubt, this is a characteristic of the economy/power mode of the i-Vtec. And it's certainly a relevation to find that by holding onto a gear at higher revs (and speeds) you actually experience a much quieter cabin than at the 4,000 rpm mark.
On the road, the great thing about Germany is that their motorway service stations actually have decent food! And, in addition to frequent fuelling opportunities, there are always plenty of designated rest stops to help combat tiredness. They also have spotlessly clean toliets (called Sanifair) which cost 50c to use, but are well-worth the money!! As for German drivers well, by and large, they're extremely well-disciplined and skilled. Moreover, although you'd think that higher motorway speeds would make a drive more stressful, the exact opposite was true. It was a real pleasure!!
En-route, the Civic offered a first-rate driving environment. Pop in a good CD, stick on the cruise control and really, it makes for a fantastic European tourer. Throughout, the auto sensing wipers worked well (it rained quite a bit) and, over a wide-variety of road surfaces, I really felt the road holding and feedback from the steering wheel to be very, very good. And, with the increased miles, my gear change (from 3rd-4th) has now loosened up nicely. No rattles anywhere in the cabin either, which is always nice
Through Belgium on Sunday morning it was absolutely chucking it down. Curiously, 90% of Belgian drivers were using their rear fog lamps in such conditions even though there was no fog (just water spray). So maybe Stef can enlighten me as to whether it's compulsory or just a bad habit? Certainly, I thought it a bit strange. Also, it never ceases to amaze me how much lighting there is on Belgian motorways. And, for sure, it must cost a fair amount to the Belgian taxpayer!
On my final fill up before Blightly I stopped off at a Texaco station and added about 30 litres of 98 octane Texaco fuel (went to 3 separate stations looking for a 100 octane option, but to no avail). On start up it immediately sounded gruff compared to the higher quality fuels I'd been using (Shell V-Power and Aral Ultimate). And, under acceleration, the car not only felt slower, but sounded positively rough!!! So, if you have the choice, I'd recommend a 99 or 100 octane rated fuel. Makes the i-Vtec sound sweet and offers better fuel consumption too!!
Arriving in the UK, I took the M20 from Dover before joining the M25 and then taking the M23 down to West Sussex. Having not seen a single Civic through the whole of Germany (I don't think people are being tempted away from their Golfs), I saw three of Swindon's finest in just a 20 mile stretch! I fear they're getting a bit common in the UK!!!
Also, the surface quallity on both the M20 and M25 legs was really, really appalling. I felt sea sick bumping around all the time. And, once on minor roads, I noticed the camber was significantly more noticeable in the UK than on European roads (nice to see cats eyes again though). My Civic doesn't pull to the left, but it did feel a bit more tiring to drive. And, along the M25, it was the first part of the journey that I'd actually describe as being strenuous. For such a small island, the UK has just too many cars!!! Still, it's good to see Corrie again
All told then, it was an absolute pleasure driving the Civic a thousand miles in just 2 days. I know on this forum that quite a few owners have suffered teething troubles but, with my car at least, it really feels like a quality product and one that lives up to Honda's deserved reputation!
My biggest gripe is that UK models have an option of converting the speedo into km/h, but European models can't do it from km/h to mph. Are they all Euro sceptics in Swindon? So currently, I have to remember not to go over 110 km/h or 50 km/h in town (although the Civic's speed warnings do help). Still, a bit of a chore really!!
And remember, if you lot see a silver left-hooker with an H underneath the EU emblem on the reg (and a CivInfo sticker on the boot) then give me a wave. I'm here until next Wednesday!