Our Man in Frankfurt this week, Glenn Brooks, and I can’t be the only ones eyeing the ‘rear side spoilers’ (exactly) on the rump of the new Honda Civic hatchback and wondering, in social media terminology, WTF?
To which Honda UK’s spokesman replied: “”The ‘rear side spoilers’ have a fairly big aerodynamic effect, affecting how the air travels off and over the rear of the body. They contribute to a reduction in CO2 of 1g/km. They are used on the diesel car to bring the CO2 down to 110g/km (which slots the model into a lower sector for taxation.”
Fair enough. Another feel-good-we’re-helping-save-the-polar-bears tale for the Corporate Social Responsibility folder and maybe a few extra pounds in the owner’s pocket come fill-up time.
But shouldn’t that sort of thing be sorted out at the wind tunnel testing stage rather than by adding what looks like a couple of glued-on, spray painted pieces of balsa wood on the production line? A highly scientific survey of every rear bumper I passed between here and our lunch purveyor today found nothing similar on a smorgasbord of makes and models. Last time I saw a Honda addendum like that it was stark black dealer-fit corner protectors on the first generation of painted-bumper Civics back in the day when coatings and plastics technology was not as advanced as today.
I’ll take Honda at its word for now but can’t help harbour a sneaking suspicion something – like that which resulted in ‘Sierra ears’ – prompted a last-minute fix when time and/or tooling costs prevented a less obvious modification this side of the mid-life facelift.
I’m referring to, if memory serves, the problem identified soon after the 1982 launch of Ford Europe’s D-segment Cortina replacement with ‘jelly mould’ looks. Early buyers complained of a mild instability at motorway speeds and a trip back into the wind tunnel soon established that a small spoiler, quickly dubbed an ‘ear’ by the motoring press, surrounding the cabin vent outlets on each D-pillar would sort the problem. They weren’t too obvious and disappeared with the mild mid-life restyle.