Driving the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid

Gasoline engine and electric motor work in harmony

Published: 21-Nov-2003

As a final check-ride before returning the Civic Hybrid to Honda, I drove it around Victoria International Airport's perimeter route: my unofficial designation, by the way, for a series of roads which begin near the button of Runway 28, then circumnavigate the aerodrome to end at Ralph's Coffee House, close to the start point. Ralph, like me, is a former pilot, the difference being that he flew Boeing 707's and I flew Cessna 172's. Big guy, little guy.

It's a very pleasant drive, with great views of the ocean and mountains, a few interesting curves, and a couple of long straights where, if the traffic's light, it is possible to test a car's passing acceleration. Due care and caution is required, of course; this is no place for flat-out high speed blasts. When the sun shines I often cycle the same route, just enough for a healthy workout. It even has some moderate uphill grinds to keep hearts and lungs pumping.

My purpose for this last-minute tour was to double-check the Civic's driving dynamics. Until then I'd been so fascinated by Honda's hybrid technology and how it seamlessly integrates electric energy with internal combustion power, that I'd barely noticed those qualities that make the Civic a best-seller... even after driving in a variety of conditions ranging from crowded urban traffic to expressways and mountain switchbacks.

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