Honda Civic Type R | Matt B
With so few miles covered between introducing the Civic and now, there isn't much to say about the car itself. I can tell you that a big boot is fantastic for dog paraphernalia, that the bucket seats would be better if heated (says my girlfriend) and that a lad who works at my local Sainsbury's likes it. Which certainly made collecting the weekly shop at 7am a little cheerier; because we all like to hear nice things about our cars, don't we? Knowing that someone else likes it makes you like it more, I think - even when your time together is limited.
Here's the thing, though. I like this Civic, not because of how it looks, but in spite of it. The Type R is superb to drive, and that's enough. I'm not as offended as some people appear to be, but neither am I going to pretend I actively enjoy its appearance, either. Which, when a Renault Sport Megane costs similar money, might be a problem. We've had the latest 300 Sport in for a road test assessment this week, and it's been drawing admiring glances from all around. People of all ages have asked more about it, seem actively surprised that it's a Renault and, without exception, think it looks just as good as I do. Without resorting to mad spoilers, skirts or add-ons.
In fact, a Golf R owner we met summed it up perfectly; having once owned a DC5 Integra Type R, the spirit of which is being kept alive in the Civic, he noted: "we all grow up eventually". The Golf was the ideal replacement for him, as it apparently has been for many others. Combining the Renault Sport thrills of old with a chunk of VW-like maturity - the dream combination, surely - is exactly what this current Megane has been trying to achieve since 2018, with mixed results.
It says a lot, though, that the outside has barely been touched at all with this update. For me, it didn't need one bit of tweaking. The Civic, even with its nice new blue paint, probably did. Because it put some people off buying one. That's a small (and potentially crucial) victory for the Renault already, then; more on how it stacks up against the rest of the hot hatch class very soon.
Car: 2021 Honda Civic Type R GT
Run by: Matt
On fleet since: January 2021
Mileage: 3,065 (delivered on 2,945)
List price new: £37,170 (Type R GT at £36,320, plus £850 for Racing Blue Pearl paint)
Last month/week at a glance: Is a good looking car that drives well too much to ask?
BMW M340d Touring | Nic C
So let's talk more about tyres. BMW's love affair with run-flats is obviously longstanding. I remember the original backlash well. Motoring journalists are prone to hyperbole, but complaints about spines and eyeballs being turned to powder by the manufacturer's decision to adopt reinforced sidewalls were legion at the time. Since then, the technology (or else chassis engineers capacity to tune around it) must have improved somewhat because it's seldom you hear anyone drone on about the disadvantages when driving a new car so equipped. The M340d, for the most part, rides very pleasantly indeed.
All the more shocking then when the car's normally pliant front end meets a pothole roughly as deep as South African gold mine. I hardly need describe the brain-rattling awfulness. But in a modern, pressure-sensored car it is accompanied by everyone's favourite warning symbol and a polite message which essentially reads: 'whoops - you're buggered, sunshine'. Of course, while the air pressure may have gone from robustly plump to virtually zilch, the run-flat is designed to take the strain and let you drive on to your destination up to a maximum speed of 50mph or so.
Except when the sinkhole you've hit has knackered the sidewall that's meant to do all the heavy lifting. In which case you park up, stare morosely into a boot which definitely doesn't contain a space saver (because that's precisely what you're not supposed to need) and belatedly call for assistance. Now, BMW's roadside recovery is efficient enough - a tow truck eventually found me, as did the taxi needed to get me back home - but it was still three hours needlessly spent in a car park. And then a week waiting to get the car back, because inevitably the dealership it was recovered to didn't have the specific tyre in stock. All for the sake of saving a comparatively minuscule amount of weight and money and packaging inconvenience. So while I haven't had cause to think about run-flats in a while, I can still think of several good reasons to hate 'em.
Car: 2021 BMW M340d xDrive Touring
Run by: Nic
On fleet since: Dec 2020
List price new: £54,325 (on-the-road, as standard; price as tested £62,615 comprised of Visibility Pack (High-beam Assistant and BMW Laserlights) for £1,500, Technology Pack (Head-up display, Harmon/Kardon surround sound, Enhanced Bluetooth with wireless charging, BMW Gesture Control, Wi-Fi hotspot preparation) for £1,900, Shadowline Plus (19-inch Jet Black 791 M wheels, Black mirror caps, Sun protection glass, BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line with extended contents) for £750, Premium Pack (Panoramic glass sunroof, Electric front seats + Driver Memory, Lumbar support, front) for £1,900, Comfort Pack (Steering wheel heating, Comfort access, Luggage Compartment package, Extended storage) for £890, Towbar, electrically folding for £850, Interior Trim Aluminium Fabric high-gloss BMW Individual for £500.)
Last month/week at a glance: A run-flat set back
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