Roy Lanchester

Roy Lanchester returns

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ROY LANCHESTER was one of Sniff Petrol’s very first contributors, back when he was also the motoring correspondent for the Harrogate Evening Weasel. Since then he has spent several years “working abroad” before returning to car journalism with his blog, Over The Limit with Roy Lanchester. We are delighted to announce that Roy has now given permission for us to syndicate selected posts from that blog, starting with one of his unique road tests.

RoyLanchester14The latest Honda Civic has been on sale for over two years now but, interestingly, I have never had the chance to drive it. Put this down to bad timing and an unfortunate incident at a Honda event in which several members of their staff took exception to an anecdote involving my famous Japanese accent and facial expression. Such petty objections were thankfully overlooked by the company’s new press demonstrator booking assistant who was also unaware of an incident a few years ago in which I was forced to return an Accord in less than ideal shape and dryness.

The Civic delivered to me was the excellent SE Plus model fitted with Honda’s 1.6-litre diesel engine, a unit I had not sampled before but which experience with their other motors told me was sure to be excellent. The Civic is now a familiar and excellent shape but familiarity has not diminished its excellence. The excellent interior will also be familiar to anyone who has been in a Civic before and features controls that fall easily to hand. There are also many excellent design touches including plenty of stowage for items such as keys, money, mobile telephones and pens, although I was slightly disappointed to note that Honda had not provided any of these items for me to try out.

If I had another criticism it’s that this car was delivered with the fuel gauge reading very, very slightly below full to the brim. An unusual oversight from a company that is usually so thorough. I pointed this out to the driver who delivered the car but he seemed more interested in rudely asking for a lift to the station and then grumpily demanding to know if there was any other public transport that wasn’t 45 minutes’ walk away!

These matters are of course no reflection on the car itself which I quickly found to be excellent. The ride is genuinely excellent and would shame a Rolls-Royce whilst the excellent suspension means this car truly corners as if it’s on rails. Furthermore, the excellent diesel motor purrs like a kitten and surges you effortlessly up to the kind of speeds that would surely lose you your licence! On my private test track I saw an easy 110mph, shortly before coming a little too quickly into one of my private roundabouts, hitting one my private kerbs and bouncing through my private hedge.

It would be completely wrong to blame Honda for this and I believe any car in the same conditions would have had its wheel smashed off in the same way. In fact, I believe many cars would have come off considerably worse and it is a credit to the excellent design and build quality of the Civic that the airbags activated as they should and that a passer-by was able to get the driver’s door open and pull me out with the help of three other people.

The Honda Civic is an excellent car and I would have no hesitation in recommending it or indeed in purchasing one myself if I needed to buy a car of my own. Excellent.

Read more of what Roy describes as his “sideways glance at the world of motoring” on his blog:

You can read some of Roy’s earlier contributions to Sniff Petrol here, here and here.