Blog: Dave LeggettDriving Hondas...

Dave Leggett | 27 February 2004

A very agreeable few hours were spent driving around in assorted Honda cars earlier today. Civic Type-R was a lot of fun. As was S2000, although I felt a bit conspicuous in a bright yellow one. But - and I know this is probably a sign of advancing years - I really enjoyed being cosseted in the Honda Accord i-CTDi diesel. Nice interior and a smooth ride. The diesel engine seemed responsive and was very quiet too. Honda has put a bit of thought into developing the engine; the engine block is made of aluminium, ensuring that it is relatively light. Noise and vibration has been kept down too – it has a lower compression ratio than is generally the case in diesels of this size. And, looking ahead, Honda's diesel meets Euro IV without a particulate filter, which means one can be added in the future to make the engine even cleaner when tougher emissions regulations come in. Anyway, I was impressed. 

Just before a buffet lunch, we were corralled to seats and a pre-arranged presentation by one of Honda’s UK staff was swung into action. You never know what may be thrown at you in these situations, but I have to say that Will Slater did an excellent job, pitching the presentation just right – some salient facts about Honda’s latest models and without resort to PR-speak. And rumbling stomachs were not kept waiting too long. Will had clearly had some fun comparing Civic model range variant prices with comparable Volkswagen Golf models…

I also got the chance to have a word with Paul Ormond – head of corporate press and PR for Honda in the UK. I’m hoping that a visit to Honda’s Swindon facility may follow. We got chatting about Honda’s UK exports of the CR-V to the USA – Swindon’s US-bound output goes to the eastern half of the US; the west is serviced by Japan. Honda decided to up Swindon’s output with an export focus about two years ago when it realised that just shipping at a loss to continental Europe (due to an unfavourable sterling-euro exchange rate) wasn’t feasible in the long run. But you have to feel for them. Just as shipments to the US took off, the dollar weakened.   

There were also a few familiar faces to catch up with. Mark Bursa was there, as was Julian ‘why, it’s Pischetsrieder!’ Rendell. Mark is putting the finishing touches to his just-auto management briefing on the automotive industry in central Europe. There should be an announcement from Hyundai in the middle of next week about its European plant. He’s heard it will be devoted to Kia products now. Mark also reckons Poland rather than Slovakia now, and I’d agree. But don’t take betting tips from me! We should find out next week – unless the Koreans feel they can squeeze yet more concessions from respective governments and regional authorities.


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