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Prices announced for electric Honda e – and it’s not cheap

Honda e prices revealed Frankfurt

Prices for Honda’s e electric city car have been revealed – alongside a production-ready model – at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.

It starts from £26,160, with deliveries expected to commence by early summer 2020.

Buy on finance for £299 a month

The 100kW Honda e costs from £26,160, although that figure includes the £3,500 government plug-in car grant. Without that, it would be £29,660.

The 113kW ‘Advance’ version begins at £28,660, inclusive of the grant.

Alternatively, Honda e finance starts from £299 per month. That’s based on an 8,000-mile annual limit and 23 percent deposit. Paying £50 a month more gets you into the Advance model, which has an electric centre mirror to accompany the camera side mirrors, plus Honda Parking Pilot.

Honda e Advance – order from today

Honda e prices revealed Frankfurt

Ordering for the Advance version opens today at dealerships in the UK. Those who made initial reservations will get priority. Expect to receive an invitation to link up with your local dealer if you are among them.

Follow through with the order and you can expect to get one of the first summer 2020 deliveries.

“We’re pleased to be able to confirm the pricing for the Honda e,” said Phil Webb, head of car at Honda UK.

Honda e prices revealed Frankfurt

“Designed for the urban environment, and originally called the Urban EV, the Honda e has a competitive range of up to 136 miles.

“Honda research has found the average European commute is approximately 30 miles, making it more than sufficient. Coupled with the fast-charge capability of 80 percent in 30 minutes, the Honda e is perfect for the urban environment.

“Honda e is the embodiment of the brand’s commitment to electrification and is the next step towards our electric vision for 100 percent of European sales to be electrified by 2025.”

Honda ‘Mean Mower’ breaks lawnmower speed record

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

Honda’s ‘Mean Mower’ is now a bona fide world record holder, setting a new Guinness-validated fastest 0-100mph time for a lawnmower.

The Honda packs a 200+hp CBR1000RR Fireblade SP superbike engine and weighs just 69.1kg. That gives it a power to weight ratio superior to a Bugatti Chiron.

With these incredible statistics, and experienced stunt driver, kart and car racer Jess Hawkins at the wheel, it set a time of 6.29 seconds in a sprint from zero to 100mph.

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

Beyond that record, the Mean Mower went on to hit a top speed of 150.99mph. Yes, a 150mph lawnmower…

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Honda’s racing partner Team Dynamics played a role in realising this manic machine, too.

In order to take the record Mean Mower had actually perform the function of a lawnmower. Its electrically powered carbon fibre blades allow that function when needed.

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

Also, in order to gain a record, Guinness mandates that you have to perform twice inside an hour. As such, Mean Mower made two sub-seven-second 0-100mph runs, with an aggregate of 6.29 seconds.

Incredibly, there’s precedent for this, set by Honda itself. Mean Mower V2 succeeds the original Mean Mower. That became the fastest lawnmower in the world in March 2014, hitting 116mph.

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

“The original Mean Mower was an incredible machine, but this time we’ve taken it to a whole new level with version two,” said Dave Hodgetts, MD of Honda UK.

“After taking the top speed record in 2014, we wanted to do something a little different by setting an all-new record for acceleration, and the result is fantastic. Team Dynamics have gone above and beyond in developing and building this real feat of engineering, and hats off to Jess for being brave enough to get behind the wheel!”

Dancing on ice: learning to drift in a Honda Civic Type R

Civic ice driving

There’s a good reason many of the world’s greatest rally drivers come from Finland. Its roads are one big, snow-covered special stage.

To sample the Finnish way of doing things, we travelled to Kemi, where northern Finland meets the Baltic Sea, to drive Honda Civics on ice.

Front-wheel drive on ice

Honda Civic ice driving

Momentum and weight-transfer are your buzz-words when it comes to hustling a front-wheel-drive car on ice. In a rear-drive sports car, fluffy rooster tails and easy rotation come with a tap of the loud pedal. Not so in a Civic. If anything, there’s a bit more skill involved.

You have to feel how the tyres are interacting with the surface, or you risk understeering into a snowdrift. You need to look a corner or two ahead and think how you approach each turn, in order to set yourself up for the next. Knowing where the car wants to swing is half the battle.

Many marques, including Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Porsche, have their own snow driving experiences. However, you’ll learn just as much from a front-wheel-drive Civic. You might even have more fun, too.

Honda Civic ice driving

Even in a 1.0-litre front-wheel-drive hatchback, there’s a sense of satisfaction and achievement that comes with getting your lines just right.

After plenty of laps, our race-hardened instructor finally shouts with pride – and it’s a good feeling.

Making the sensible Civic come alive

Honda Civic ice driving

Before any tail-out shenanigans can occur, there was a secret code we had to enter into the Civic’s control system. Brake down, handbrake up, clutch in, clutch out, handbrake down, brake up… Don’t quote us on that.

Put it this way, it required some Googling and at least three attempts to disable the stability systems. But once we got there, the tail chased us around and the wheels started scrapping without electronic interruption.

Even Honda admits the 1.0-litre Civic isn’t an exciting car in ordinary circumstances. It isn’t meant to be. Nevertheless, there is a good chassis hiding in there, as evidenced by the rip-snorting Type R version. 

Honda Civic ice driving

However, none of us preferred the Type R in these conditions. The softer suspension of the standard car gelled beautifully with the well-judged steering. Get your eye in after a few laps and a balletic lift-off oversteer dance comes together naturally. 

It shows how much care is given to the development of even ‘everyday’ cars. In the real world, most Civic owners won’t ever experience this. Unless they take a road-trip to Kemi…

Civic Type R tackles the frozen trackHonda Civic ice driving

The Type R initially served to demonstrate how beneficial the 1.0-litre’s softer setup was. However, where the hot hatch jarred in terms of rigidity, it won us over again with a quality gear shift, rorty engine and quick steering.

You can get up a bit more speed, too and on ice, more speed means more momentum. We weren’t using the Type R’s considerable power reserves by any means, but it got us going and the results were lengthy skids and even a couple of transitions. All with front-wheel drive.

Honda Civic ice driving

It was an experience in a part of the world that was utterly unforgettable. I know we all came away better drivers as a result.

Honda E Prototype: an iPhone moment for cars?

Honda e PrototypeKohei Hitomi, Honda E Prototype project leader, took a trip to Europe early in the development of the new electric car, which makes its public debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. He wanted to find out just what was required to crack the car’s target market.

He came back with instructions for the design team. It had to be short. It must have an incredibly tight turning circle. The battery should have enough range for urban use, but not too much, because that would hurt size and price.

Honda would make a small, city-focused EV, in a world where most rivals were focusing on bigger ones.

Honda e Prototype

Senior management took some convincing. “The biggest barrier to making a small EV was resistance inside Honda,” admits Hitomi-san. “It was a quite logical argument: the belief you need a bigger range leads to a bigger battery, and to a bigger car, and to a higher price, and higher profits.

“When I came with the idea of making a small car, everyone was opposed. It was the added value argument that convinced management.” His concept got the green light. And at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, the fruits of his winning argument have been revealed to the public.

Production-ready (almost)

The Honda E Prototype is, suggest Honda insiders, largely production-ready. It might differ in a few areas, but changes will be minimal. The production car will measure 3.9 metres – a little smaller than superminis such as the Honda Jazz – and seat four people.

Honda e Prototype

Unlike the Honda Urban EV concept, the E Prototype has five doors, rather than three. It was never going to be a three-door, said Hitomi-san. That would be marketing madness.

He also suggested the production car was designed before the concept, rather than the other way around – dispelling myths Honda toned down the concept for production. Rather, this model was toned up, to create a buzz. It certainly worked…

Hitomi-san is particularly proud the E Prototype uses a bespoke electric car platform. “It gave us more flexibility – we didn’t have to compromise.” The battery frame could be used as a core part of the car’s structure, rather than fitting into a layout created for a petrol engine.

Honda e Prototype

It also meant the little Honda could be rear-wheel drive. Having the motor out the way of the front wheels helps the turning circle. It also makes it better to drive. “Electric motors give lots of pulling power, immediately. Sending this to the rear wheels helps traction and driver confidence.”

Honda wouldn’t be drawn on speculation that this performance car layout is leading it to consider a drift series for the E Prototype.

Fully charged

Honda hasn’t released much technical information about the E Prototype yet. It will produce around 135hp, and a meaty 184lb ft of pulling power. This should be good for 0-60mph in around 8.0 seconds.

Honda e Prototype

Because of its size, the battery will be smaller than the norm. Around 30kWh is expected; the base Nissan Leaf has a 40kWh unit. This is expected to give the little Honda a range of around 125 miles – again, less than key rivals (the Kia e-Niro, which will probably sell for a similar price to the Honda, has a range of around 290 miles).

Honda isn’t worried (at least not openly). Hitomi-san stresses again, this is an urban EV (now you know why the concept was named so) in which people will cover tens of miles a day, rather than hundreds. And because the battery is smaller, it charges faster. Fixing the battery size is core to the car’s intelligent design and city-friendly performance.

Hands-on: Honda E Prototype

Designer Ken Sahara describes the design as simple, clean, “noiseless… cars are getting complex now. We wanted an ‘easy to see’ car, with the friendliness of models from the 60s and 70s. Modern cars need lots of sensors, but we focused on concealing them, to create something that looked familiar.”

Honda e Prototype

The front end is minimalist. The radar sensors are hidden behind the gloss black panel. At the side, surfaces are clean and clear. The profile of the Honda E Prototype is the focus, not the details within it.

It has sector-first details. Deployable doorhandles (like on a Jaguar F-Type) reduce clutter. There are cameras instead of door mirrors, feeding two HD screens within. And the interior is just as alluring.

Honda has successfully carried across the ‘lounge-like’ ambience of the concept. The screens on the dashboard are modelled on flat-screen TVs. Seats are like armchairs, particularly in the rear (and the upholstery is intentionally more ‘home furnishings’ than ‘automotive’).

Honda e Prototype

Quality is exceptionally high. This feels a premium product. The attention to detail is beyond mainstream superminis – it’s Audi-like within. There are some beautiful touches too, such as the leather strap that releases the front cupholder, and four ‘downlighter’ LEDs in the roof for rear passengers. “We could have just had two,” said Hitomi-san. “Having four made it feel more like a living room.”

It’s not a Tardis, though. It’s really easy to step in and out of the front seats, but it feels like a supermini-sized car. Rear-seat space is rather tight for adults, and it can only seat two, not three. The boot is tiny, due to the electrical gubbins below. Honda is crossing its corporate fingers that this won’t be an issue to the urbanites it’s targeting with the E Prototype.

How much will the Honda E Prototype cost?

Then there’s the small matter of the price. This, clearly, will not be a budget car. Speculation is around £30,000 to £35,000. If Elon Musk’s suggestion is right, that’s Tesla Model 3 money. But comparisons are not relevant, insists Hitomi-san. The E Prototype is a different sort of car, with a different target market.

Honda e Prototype

He draws an analogy with the Apple iPhone. “That is not a cheap product, but everyone still wants to have one. People will save to own one. It proves there can be strong demand for some something with added value and high quality.

“We have tried to go the same way, even if the price might look high at first glance.”

Verdict: Honda E Prototype

Only Honda could make a car like the E Prototype. It’s not me-too, it’s a thoughtful and clever piece of product design, and the company’s ambition for it to become the iPhone of electric cars is, while ambitious, also justified.

Honda e Prototype

Even Honda management’s initial reaction suggests it’s a bit of a gamble, but Hitomi-san and his team have delivered something that deserves to succeed. In time, the everyday electric Hondas will arrive; we will eventually buy an electric Honda Jazz.

For now, the Honda E Prototype is the warm-up act. Don’t be surprised if its irresistible allure helps cure urbanites of their range anxiety.

Honda E Prototype: in pictures

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Honda teases ultra-cool Urban EV electric car in production form

Honda Electric Vehicle Concept exterior teaser

Honda has given us a glimpse inside the hotly-anticipated 2019 production version of the Urban EV. The retro-futuristic all-electric concept debuted in 2017 to an uproarious reaction, prompting Honda to fast-track a production version. Here’s our first look at the prototype due at Geneva…

The five-door Urban EV

Our immediate first observation is that on one of the screens we can see the production car’s silhouette, complete with… five doors. That is a departure from the concept but not an unwelcome one. It doesn’t appear to have impeded on the Urban EV’s unique style.

Retro style survives to production

Honda Electric Vehicle Concept interior

Happily, the full-width minimalist digital dash of the concept has largely carried over. There’s a distinctly production-looking wheel you wouldn’t be surprised to find on any other Honda and a very clean, premium-looking and user-friendly interface.

What’s decidedly not retro, is what we think could possibly be screens and cameras instead of door mirrors… Not the screen to the left of where you’d normally find the speedo and rev counter…

Below the screen, there remains a lovely wood-looking trim, as seen on the prototype Whether it’s actual wood or an eco-friendly imitation remains to be seen. Either way, we’re a fan of the aesthetic, which harks back to the original Honda Civic interior.

Honda Urban EV – the first mainstream electric car?

There remain big questions about the Urban EV when it arrives.

Will the real-world driving range be tenable? How fast can you charge it up? Will it be affordable? Honda has undoubtedly addressed any image problems electric cars have with what must be one of the coolest-looking small cars in a generation.

Honda Urban EV

However, in going to production, we hope it’s also addressed some of the serious issues that hamper real-world electric cars in their quest for the mainstream.

Speculation remains rife. Either way, we can’t wait for Honda to reveal all next month on March 5 at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

The best car features owners didn’t know they had

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

A survey of 2,000 UK motorists by Citnow has uncovered the 10 best-loved features owners found in their cars.

These range from interior ‘easter eggs’ that surprise and delight, to genuinely useful features that we’re surprised aren’t seen more widely.

Let’s look at the list…

Volkswagen Golf GTI: golf ball gearknob

Volkswagen Golf GTI Golf Ball Gear Shift

‘GTI’ is one of the most prestigious names in hot hatchery and by extension, one of the most revered badges on the road. Today, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is the perfect double act of genuine class-beating competency and fun throwbacks to GTIs of old. One example of the latter is the golf ball on the gearknob, which heads the list of best-loved features .

Volkswagen Beetle: flower vase

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [from above]

If you thought the golf ball shifter was a fun trinket, the Volkswagen Beetle and its dashboard vase will appeal. The ‘New Beetle’, when it arrived in 1997, aimed to distil the cultural phenomenon of the original in a contemporary package. Yes, even down to some flower power… Motoring meets botany, resulting in perhaps the weirdest feature of any car from the last 20 years. It makes number two on the list.

Vauxhall Corsa: Flexfix integrated bike rack

Vauxhall FlexFix Bike Rack

The Beetle’s vase can be best described as a gimmick that’s most useful when you’re without a place to store your pens. The Flexfix slide-out bike rack on the Corsa (available as far back as 2000) is of rather more use to more people. Clever packaging makes it third on the best-loved list.

Skoda: integrated umbrella

Skoda Superb Umbrella

This one, especially for Brits, is a no-brainer, and somthing you’ll find in both a Rolls-Royce and a Skoda Superb. The door-stored umbrella has to be a godsend whenever you park up in wet weather. The challenge is remembering that it’s tucked away there.

Mini: ambient lighting

MINI Ambient Lighting

In the coolness stakes, this is close to the top. Ambient lighting has proliferated throughout the car market, but the playful implementation in the Mini is rated one of the best-loved features by buyers.

Honda: Magic Seats

Honda Magic Seats

Heading the list of practical but not necessarily cool quirks are Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’. These flip-up rear seats, which create a floor-to-ceiling storage space, debuted on the Jazz in the early 2000s and eventually made their way onto the Civic. Unlike a lot of what’s on this list, they are a genuinely useful feature if your Jazz or Civic is thus equipped!

Mini Convertible: Openometer

MINI Openometer

Aaaaaand… we’re back to the gimmicks. It doesn’t get much sillier than the Mini Convetible’s ‘Openometer’. This gauge records the amount of time you have spent travelling with the roof down. At least you can say with the utmost certainty how much sunshine you’ve got, before deciding whether to buy another drop-top.

Nissan: curry hook

Nissan Curry Hook

As unknown features go, this is about as middle-of-the-road as they get. How many cars do you know of with a hook specifically for takeaways? Er, none? Well, there is one. From 1996, the Nissan Almera came equipped with this feature, which you can now find in the boots of many new cars.

Renault Modus: Boot Chute

Renault Modus Boot Chute

This is a feature that was absolutely infamous at the time, mostly among journalists. The boot chute is one of those great ideas that simply didn’t catch on (the name surely didn’t help, although this was, remember, the company that also gave us the Renault Wind).

Too close to a car or a wall behind you? Need to load shopping? No problem! The lower part of the tailgate opened to create a ‘Boot Chute’. It provided excellent access for luggage in confined spaces. Bring it back, Renault!

DS 3: perfume dispenser

DS 3 Perfume Dispenser

The last item on the list is the DS 3’s perfume dispenser. Of course, it’s not actually exclusive to the DS. Many cars are now getting integrated fragrances, but it remains a laughable hidden feature.

Or is it? Plenty of us fit our own air fresheners, so why should a built-in one seem weird? Regardless, it rounds off the top 10 hidden features that buyers love.

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Honda Mean Mower 4

Honda’s new 190hp Mean Mower wants to do 150mph

Honda Mean Mower 4

We imagine one of the first-world problems with having an enormous amount of land is that the foliage that coats it must be tended. If you’ve no plans to buy a decommissioned WRC car to rip around on it and ruin it, how do you keep it all well-tended? It’s almost as if you’d need a 150mph ride-on mower. Well, Honda might have exactly what you need.

Say hello to the Honda Mean Mower V2

This Team Dynamics-developed, CBR1000RR Fireblade-engined machine is the successor to 2014’s Mean Mower. That’s the one that took the record of fastest mower in the world at the time, with a top speed of 116mph… but, since then, it’s been beaten by the V8-engined Viking with a top-end of 134mph.

Naturally, Honda was not going to taking this lying down, so it had its crack BTCC racing partner go all-out with this ludicrous 190hp 13,000rpm machine. You don’t need to be a master mathematician to note the new Mean Mower will hammer the Viking, if Honda’s 150mph+ estimates hold true.

Honda Mean Mower 2

What makes the Mean Mower V2 so mean?

Honda is keen to stress this isn’t a simple engine swap. Bespoke CAD-designed materials – some created with 3D printing – put it well within the realms of ‘custom hot-rod with mower lights’. The engine isn’t the only borrowed CBR vital organ, either, with the ECU, six-speed transmission and LCD display also making the jump.

Carbon paddles on the wheel give the brave rider control over the quick-shifting system. It has a bespoke steel chassis, no suspension, and big Goldspeed 10-inch ATV wheels anodised in gold (matching the Fireblade). The all-too-vital braking power comes courtesy of vented Kelgate items with four-piston callipers at the front and six at the rear.

Honda Mean Mower 3

There are, however, certain criteria that need to be met in order for this monster to still be classed as a lawnmower. The aforementioned lights with bodywork from the original HF 2622 lawn tractor are just the beginning – a mower isn’t a mower if it can’t cut the green stuff. Yes, this 150mph Fireblade-engined monster has a blade to cut grass. Thinking about it, a Fireblade engine is an appropriate swap into a record-breaking lawnmower. (Sorry.)

But will it hit the magic buck-and-a-half? For that, it’s all eyes on experienced cart and car racer, Jess Hawkins, who will be pushing the limits of this ludicrous machine sometime soon…

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Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13

Red Bull Racing to use Honda F1 engines from 2019

Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13Honda has agreed to supply Red Bull Racing with Formula One engines from 2019. The two-year deal will see Red Bull switch from its current supply of Renault engines.

Red Bull Scuderia Toro Rosso (pictured above) will also continue to use Honda F1 engines, meaning the Japanese automaker will supply two teams – each using identical-specification Honda Power Units.

“This partnership with Honda signals a new era for Red Bull Group in Formula One with both the Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing teams benefitting from common supply co-ordinated through Red Bull Technology,” said Red Bull motorsport adviser Dr. Helmut Marko.

“We have been extremely impressed by Honda’s commitment and progress and share like-minded ambitions to compete for Championships.”

Honda Motor Co. Ltd president and representative director Takahiro Hachigo revealed that discussions around the deal proceeded quickly, “thanks to Red Bull’s open and respectful attitude towards Honda, leading to a deal that is fair and equitable for all parties.

“Having two teams means we can access twice as much data as previously. We believe that working with both Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing will allow us to get closer to our goal of winning races and Championships, building two strong partnerships.”

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner says the decision was taken dispassionately, and with one sole criteria: “do we believe the outcome will allow us to compete at a higher level.

“After careful consideration and evaluation we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team. We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso, and by the scope of their ambition, which matches our own.”

Honda suffered a tumultuous return to F1 in partnership with McLaren, and the two agreed to part last year. This year, McLaren is using the same Renault engines as Red Bull, but it’s the performance of the Honda-powered Toro Rosso team that has impressed many in the sport.

Red Bull, which has already won this year with Renault engines, clearly seen enough to convince itself that championships with Honda are a realistic possibility.

It’s going to be a fascinating few years in the sport…

Affordable Honda Type-Rs: which should you buy?

Affordable Honda Type Rs: which should you buy?

Affordable Honda Type-Rs: which should you buy?

You don’t need to be a petrolhead to understand the significance of the ‘R’ badge on a road-going Honda. It first became a thing in the early 90s, when the firm launched a Type R version of its NSX supercar in Japan.

These sold in relatively small numbers, never officially made it to the UK and would be out of our price range anyway, so it’s the later models that we’re interested in.

Later Type Rs became tuned-up versions of conventional family cars, including the Civic, Accord and Integra. All of these became performance car icons in their own right, yet remain surprisingly affordable today. We drive them back-to-back and come to a definitive(ish) conclusion about which one you should spend your money on. 


What is VTEC?

It’s impossible to write about fast Hondas without referring to VTEC. You’ve probably heard the term – Honda aficionados refer to VTEC so frequently that it’s become an internet meme. If you’re not familiar, it stands for Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control.

Sounds complicated… and it kind of is. The camshaft in a car’s engine turns, pushing lobes (called cams) against valves, causing them to open and close, letting air into the combustion chamber in the process. Essentially, VTEC means a camshaft has two different sizes of cams – small ones for pottering around with maximum efficiency, and large ones for more air and maximum performance.

As the revs climb, oil flows through the rocker shaft, sliding a pin that locks the low-RPM rocker arms to the higher-RPM rocker arms, meaning the valves open further and for a longer period of time. This results in a turbo-like effect on the engine, but only at high revs.

The advantages of VTEC are two different characters for the engine. At low revs, it’ll drive like a sensible car, providing good fuel economy. Increase the revs and it becomes more fun. The disadvantage is you have to work the engine hard to benefit from the best performance.


Honda Civic Type-R

The EP3-shape Honda Civic Type R is passing through the boy racer stage and shaping up to be a strong future classic. With prices currently close to £2,000 (although that’s for a really ropey example), it’s close to bottoming out, although the sheer number sold means it’ll be a while before it starts to seriously appreciate.

If you’re looking for an investment, you’d be better off with an ISA. But an ISA doesn’t provide you with the thrills produced by the K20A2 naturally-aspirated VTEC engine hitting 8,000rpm.

Before I get to that stage, I have to battle with North London traffic. Yes, although I’m spending a day driving Type Rs, my base is close to the Hertfordshire town of Watford. And in traffic, it’s difficult to see what all the fuss is about. The ride is firm, yet the engine doesn’t feel particularly eager. I like the dash-mounted gear change – it feels slick and actually makes sense when you get used to it. Moving your hand the short distance from the steering wheel to the gearstick can save crucial tenths of a second. Ahem.

Eventually I reach countryside – with surprisingly empty B-roads – and manage to pile on the revs. They build, with VTEC kicking in around 6,000rpm and the car surges forward. It’s fun, admittedly, but not quite the excitement I expected – not helped, of course, by quickly catching up with other cars.

Part of the ‘problem’ is that the Civic packs just 200hp, hitting its peak at 7,400rpm. And in a world of 300hp+ turbocharged hot hatches, having to work so hard to eke out a meagre 200hp doesn’t feel that thrilling.

Sure, the joy of driving a car like this isn’t all about power. But the EP3 doesn’t have a particularly sophisticated chassis, while the steering feels pretty lifeless. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh: its looks are growing on me, and the interior – with its figure-hugging Recaros – isn’t as dire as an old Japanese car might be. And, of course, Honda’s a byword for reliability, so a Civic Type R should be a fairly safe bet. It’s just not the one for me.

Honda Integra Type R

When I was growing up, all the magazines lauded the Integra Type-R as the best-handling front-wheel-drive car ever. I was quite excited about finally driving one even if, after a go in the Civic, I was a tad worried about meeting a hero.

Fortunately, right from the start, it feels much more exciting than the EP3. It’s old school, with a low driving position and a noisy, revvy engine (there’s little in the way of soundproofing here).

The steering actually feels connected to the wheels – an appealing sensation in a driver’s car. Front-wheel drive doesn’t really hinder it – with a limited-slip diff between the front wheels, you can drive it with the throttle as much as the steering wheel. I’m not going to pretend that sideways heroics were the order of the day on wet rural roads in the south east of England, but you can certainly use the accelerator to trim your line through the bends.

Sure, driving one every day might get tiring. It’s bumpy and, like the Civic, you have to use all of the rev range to extract the best from the engine. Weighing just 1,200kg, it’s plenty quick enough – hitting 62mph in 6.7 seconds. Although it wouldn’t hold a candle to modern hot hatches in a straight line drag race, it’s going to be more fun (and probably quicker) on twisty roads.

The interior is basic, although buoyed by the bright red Recaro seats. Visibility’s good, and everything’s in the right place – there’s no awkward offset for the pedals, and the gear change is precise and easy to find.

Today, you’ll need to pay as much as £10,000 for a good DC2, and that’s if you can find one. It sold in small numbers and many have been crashed over the years, while owners are keeping hold of good ones. If you can find one and you’ve got £10k to spend on a fun-car-slash-investment, it’s probably a good buy.

Honda Accord Type R

So we’ve had some excitement, time to come down to earth with a nice, sensible family saloon. Right..? Erm, not right.

While on the first impressions the Accord might feel all sensible, with its slightly drab yet well executed cabin, this very definitely isn’t a sensible family car. As soon as the cam profile shifts, it surges forward eagerly, while sounding better in the process than either the Civic or even the Integra. Yes, all these cars have the magic of VTEC, but it appears at his best in the 212hp 2.2-litre H22A7 engine that powers the Accord.

Maybe it’s the surprise element, but the Accord pips the Integra as the car I most want to take home from this trio. Its hydraulic steering is a joy, and while the car doesn’t feel as playful as the other Hondas featured here, it’s extremely planted. Its front LSD means you can tuck in the nose and pretend you’re not driving a (relatively) large front-wheel-drive saloon car.

Not only is the Accord Type R exciting, it’s also half the price of an Integra. Around £5,000 will get you a good, private example, and it’s more likely to have led an easy life compared to an Integra or Civic. Combine this with everyday usability and it’s definitely where my money would go.

 

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Honda Civic 1.5 Prestige auto road test

Honda Civic 1.5 Prestige auto road test

We try the new Honda Civic with the CVT automatic gearbox