It doesn't get much more passive than driving a modern automatic car, but the hybrid Civic IMA encourages an active interest in your driving.
The dash screen displays exactly what's going on below the hood, showing your current fuel consumption rate (6 litres/100km for the most part, dipping down to 5.8 briefly), how far you can go on your current tank (an impressive 800-odd from full) and flashes alternately green or blue depending on how economically you're driving. Green leaves accumulate onscreen and at the end of each journey it offers feedback on your performance. Gamification in action FTW.
Roomy and comfortable with a good sized boot (though the trim is stuck somewhere in the 1990s), it is packed with features, almost all of which make sense. The main bugbear is the need to jump between the steering wheel button controls and the separate dash controls to navigate through the various menus. Hands-free Bluetooth phone calling – which is probably top of the list for most people – was slightly painful to link up but once paired, delivered the goods with crisp sound.
There's no excuse for speeding in this thing, with the speedometer just south of eye level above the wheel and well within peripheral sight. The brakes themselves actually feed power back into the battery, and the vehicle's auto-shutdown anticipates red lights as you roll up towards them – though it's not the quickest off the mark when it comes to starting up again once the lights turn green.
And while it's no track car, it handles perfectly well (even around West Auckland corners), delivering exactly what you'd expect from a Civic, a model with decades of history behind it. Solid, if not particularly exciting.