Welcome to the 3rdepisode of a series of car reviews for the rest of us. These tests aren’t performed and photographed from empty and envy-invoking views in the Appalachians, Southern Spain or California’s iconic coastal drive, Highway 1.
Instead, they’re from the crammed, pockmarked and deconstructed streets of Toronto, recently voted Canada’s second-unhappiest city! We can’t even win the unhappiness competition. Any wonder we drive to the liquor store so much?
But oh, what a joy to supplant that first drink of the day with an agile feathery feline like the Honda Civic Sport Coupe.
It even looks light. And that insane colour contributes to the impression! Some call it florescent yellow, some lime green. Whatever you call it, it gives the impression of hovering translucence. And it almost drives like that: light and nimble as a gazelle. I frankly found the colour embarrassing and was pleased to not have to see it from within, where driving this coupe felt like a thrilling and easy-to-play video game.
In Canada, where the Accord has been a top-three favourite forever, it’s easy to forget that Honda has a history of innovation in racing technology. But you may recall that the week that I drove Civic Sport to the liquor was on the heels of the densely muscular Jaguar XE AWD S, a show-stopper itself. (The liquor store cashiers were impressed.)
The difference in the athleticism between these two-sport renditions of their respective breeds? The Jag’s an Ironman triathlete, capable of destroying anything in its way or wake; the Honda’s a Bolshoi ballerina, able to attract police attention from miles around.
This coupe’s two doors make clear to would-be passengers that they’re afterthoughts. Up front, its sporty seats are appropriately firm yet comfortable, though mechanical and cloth. (So be careful with your scented coffees and don’t take your wet dog anywhere without a lint brush and high-thread-count beach towel.)
Mind, the Civic Sport didn’t just get to the liquor store.
No, it got to the grocery store, a business meeting downtown, and to a new technology presentation by rival auto manufacturer Cadillac in Canada’s fanciest olde neighbourhoode, Rosedale, where its hue was definitely the only of its kind that night in the entire postal code. The car-jockeys argued over that glowing colour, which seemed to change as the sun went down.
It even got on the awful highway to the suburban college campus where I teach weekly. The Queen Elizabeth Way is a perennial contender for Ontario’s worst traffic, but never quite outdoes the thoroughly horrid 401 (#neverthebride). Still, regularly abounding with idiots, the QEW makes a marvellous stretch of cracked tarmac to experience the technology mounted in the passenger side mirror, “LaneWatch”.
Just because you signal your thirst, it doesn’t mean the bartender’s seen you. Even when there’s almost no one else around.
When you indicate to turn right, the Civic’s LaneWatch blind spot camera displays, in vivid high-definition, that A4 driver who’s hollering on the phone while attempting to merge with your passenger door … or that cyclist trying to squeeze between you and the curb.
The visual fills your display audio screen with arrows indicating the distance between you and your next call to the insurance company. It also warns that “Objects are closer than they appear”. Which sounds weird if you think about it. After all, the objects are appearing on a screen that’s only seven inches! Surely they’re farther. This is the sort of stuff you think about on a mundane if white-knuckle drive to the liquor store.
Anyway, it’s a temptingly useful feature — all you do is look a little down and right — but do the shoulder check anyway. Bad habits are hard to break, and there is no matching camera for left-turn indications. Why? There’s only one display; such a feature would have you looking right and downwards when you should be checking over your left shoulder. Still, most Torontonian drivers won’t find LaneWatch useful because they have yet to discover the indicator lever.
We’ve arrived at your favourite weekly destination. Hmmm! What shall we purchase?
If you think the Civic Sport’s outer colour is cool, buy some shitty lime Bud suds and don’t forget to collect your Air Miles. If you’re modest but appreciate a regularly refreshing surprise, choose a limoncello liqueur and store it in the freezer for visits from friends.
Unable to decide whether the colour was yellow or green but thoroughly impressed with Civic Sport’s performance, the missus and I purchased a stash of vinho verde from Portugal. Verde means, literally, green but also fresh and young … just like green does in English. And like this fun little ride makes you feel — when you’re surrounded by the second unhappiest people in the country.