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Green Living

9th July 2007

I recently took delivery of my new car, a Honda Civic Hybrid, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it drove like a 2ltr car but in reality only had a 1300 cc engine.

For the uninitiated a hybrid car has a small engine and an electric motor in series. The gearbox is a CVT (continuously variable transmission) so no automatic gear changes are perceptible. In normal motoring the car uses the small engine; when you need more power, the electric motor assists the engine and conversely when less power is needed the car charges the batteries, equally when braking the energy is directed to the batteries as well.

The one feature which was initially unsettling was that the engine stops when at a standstill with the footbrake applied. Releasing the footbrake starts the engine again.

The dashboard has an additional dial which indicates the state of charge of the batteries and an indication of assist (using the stored power from the batteries) or charge (putting power back into the batteries.

Questions

Do the batteries need recharging?
No, they are automatically charged when the car is used.

Do the batteries make the boot very small?
No, the 150 volt batteries sit behind the rear seat so the boot is a normal size.

What MPG is available?
The car is new so 50 MPG is what I am getting now, but I am assured that this will increase as the car loosens up, although the published top MPG of 65+ I think is unrealistic.

What are the other advantages?
Exempt from the London Congestion charge, £18 road tax and low CO2 emissions.

Is the car reliable?
Honda comes top in the car reliability stakes.

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