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Honda Civic has a secret safety feature

Honda Civic has a secret safety feature
Tristan Honeywill

For people who don’t want the usual hatchback, the latest Honda Civic fits the bill. This distinctive, Swindon-built car now equals its competitors on crash protection with a five-star Euro NCAP rating, read full report. It also has a brilliant accident prevention technology. The only problem is that it’s only available on the most expensive version.

Overall the car’s crash protection is good. In the side impact test, which simulates a car hitting from the side, the Civic scored maximum points. Whiplash protection is good too, with active head rests that protect your neck if you’re hit from behind.

Similarly there were no problems for the car in the child safety tests. You can disable the front passenger airbag to put a rear-facing child seat next to the driver. There’s also a seatbelt reminder for the rear seats, which not all cars fit as standard.

For a five-star car, pedestrian protection is only OK. If the car hits a child or an adult, it’s a bit of a lottery as to whether their heads would hit a “good” bit.

The Civic’s secret weapon is Honda’s excellent “Collision Mitigation Brake System. This is a radar-based system that warns the driver and brakes the car, if a collision is predicted. It works at speeds of 9mph onwards, scanning the road up to 100m ahead for other vehicles.

In its promotional video, Honda says that if every car in Europe was fitted with this technology, there would be something like 250,000 accidents fewer per year. So, why only make it available on the top-of-the-range EX GT model?

Other manufacturers allow customers to fit this to a greater range of models and also charge a bit less than Honda’s £1900 for the privilege. Honda was one of the first manufacturers to market with this technology, so it’s strange that they’d waste the opportunity.

That aside, if you’ve already decided you’re getting a Civic EX GT, the technology is a great upgrade. Having tested the system on a test-track at about 40mph, I can confirm that it intervenes long after any sane person would brake. You get a series of sharp tugs on the seat belt first, then the seatbelt sucks you back in your seat and the car brakes hard. Once the drama is averted, the seatbelt releases its grip and calm returns.

Safety tips

Buyer’s guide

  • Honda Civic prices start at £16,955. There are six different trim levels: SE, SE-T, ES, ES-T, EX and EX GT. There is no difference in the safety systems available on all these, except the top of the range EX GT.
  • The £26,135 EX GT model comes with bi-xenon headlights with an automatic high beam function.
  • If you’re buying the EX GT, ask for the adaptive cruise control/ Collision Mitigation Brake System option. It costs £1900
  • Also consider: Volvo V40, Audi A3, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra

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