Friday, 27 January 2017 16:24

The all new Honda Civic: an odyssey

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The athletic, low-slung 10th generation Honda Civic The athletic, low-slung 10th generation Honda Civic Pictures supplied by Quick Pic

What better place to test drive the new athletic, low-slung 10th generation Honda Civic than in the place where all human life began, the Cradle of Mankind

Affter all, these are not ordinary old wheels. With its 1.5 VTEC TURBO direct injection engine the Honda responds brilliantly to each piece of terrain that presents itself, from the hairpin bends leading down through the Hekpoort mountain gorges to the long isolated stretches of road leading past the Maropeng World Heritage Site.

Dynamic and sporty the car clings to the curves of the road, easily adjusting to the most minute of pressure on the wheel and always returning seamlessly into the correct lane. 

Elated, I take my sporty red Honda with its snazzy mag wheels to several of my "happy places".

The Magaliesberg is believed to be the oldest mountain range in the world, about 2 300 million years old, which is 100 times older than the Himalayas.  Sixteen years ago, I used to hop into the car at weekends and explore for hours, so the Cradle is a well known haunt, beloved of artists and psychics as it lies along ley lines.

But where there were once farmlands, veld and scrubby bush, with the odd farmer speeding past in a bakkie, now the Cradle has erupted into galleries, bistros, ecotourists, speed bumps and helmet-clad cyclists. Despite the huge amount of money put into the area, the labourers' cottages are still disgraceful hovels.

Once I pass the Nirox Foundation most of the cyclists disappear and I find a more deserted road to try out the Sports gear, which makes a satisfying growly sound and makes the car go like a bat out of hell - although it is a litre-eater and petrol stations are few and far between.

Once through the spectacular Hekpoort Pass and over the Hekpoort and Skeerpoort Rivers, I pass the intriguing Barton's Folly, an English Blockhouse built during the Boer War which formed part of the British defensive line stretching from Hekpoort and the setllement of Maanhaarrand to the Magaliesberg. Today it is a national monument and a game reserve, and one of the many places in the area I would like to stay at.

In the Hekpoort Valley, the Honda finds open road again. 

This is the old Magaliesberg: red tin roofed houses with their rustic Cape Dutch gables and stoeps, huge stacked cloud formations with shards of lights shining through like spotlights on to the brown-earthed fields, and the stony-topped kloofs all around. It is a reminder of the days of the Boer war when fighting was fierce and men fell and died in the veld. Reminders of them still stand, lone memorials in the grass and deserted British blockhouses in the area.

Today I find a modern looking garage with a couple of smart shops where I can pull in and get acquainted with the onboard technology, which includes a 7-inch touch screen digital audio system, cameras for the reverse and on the sides (the car will tell you when a car stops behind you or when pedestrians walk behind you). I also play with the boot function which opens from the key remote. Much to my surprise there is no back windscreen wiper, but the demisters and cameras take care of rear view vision.

That done, I head back to the Bekkers School Road turnoff off to De Hoek Country House, past Bekker School, part of the Magalies Meander.

A perenially shiny lake surrounded by grassy knolls and trees on the left yields to an army of sturdy mielies, their tufts glinting in the sun against a backdrop of rolling green hills. A ploughed fertile red field on the right is overarched by the long armed pivot irrigation system so characteristic of the area. Past the Bekkers Plaaswinkel, where the cows chew contentedly in their muddy pasture and the white ducks gaggle, slowing right down at the lethal speedbumps, past the school and the rugby fields and the floodlights, to a wilder, more deserted stretch of road.

The air is suddenly rich with aromatic sweet smells, pouring from the prolific trees and vegetation, and filled with bird song and cicadas, taking your breath away.

I find a delightfully quirky spot called Melon Rouge, which sells books, antiques and vintage clothing, and does lunches. The swankier De Hoek won't let me in, saying they are "closed", but further down the road is the very trendy Black Horse Brewery, packed to the hilt with 4x4s and hipsters and even boasting car guards. I park my red pencil sharpener, which is getting seriously vibed, and even get an offer to purchase it from one dedicated car enthusiast! 

Further down the road is the more casual White Dog Tap Room, described as a "brew pub" on Trip Advisor.

But the test drive begs for so much more: a quick swoop into the town of Magaliesberg past Mount Grace and Valley Lodge where the geography changes yet again to a more flat landscape with rolling hills.

The next day it's off to the picturesque wedding venues of Lanseria, Harties and surrounds and the Crocodile River Valley with a detour to the fabulous and fabled Mosaic at the Orient, another "happy place" (read my write up in https://issuu.com/cheek2chic/docs/cheek2chic_issue_3

Roadtripping in this vehicle lends confidence to its driver. The engine is powerful, with a huge amount of torque, 220 Nm in total, and produces an exceptional 127 kW of maximum power at 5 500 r/min. It's not in your face, but the power is there, under the bonnet.

The engine features Honda’s "Earth Dreams Technology" – the company’s next generation set of technological advancements for driving performance and fuel efficiency. It makes for a seemingly effortless driving experience!

 My test drive involves several days of pleasurable exploring and driving, allowing me to test the car's capabilities and reminding me of that memorable line from Pretty Woman. "This car must corner like it is on rails" ...

What a fun journey this has been!

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