Road Test - Honda Civic Elegance
The new Honda Civic Elegance is the 9th generation of this popular vehicle. The 1.8i VTEC engine provides light, responsive handling and greater fuel economy. The vehicle comes standard with 16" Alloy wheels (plus a full size spare wheel), leather seats, multi-function steering wheel, climate control andcruise control. Top that off with electric windows, bluetooth phone system, 6 speaker CD player with iPod/USB, heated side mirrors, six airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA) and auto-lock doors and wheelchair veteran, Denzil Dunsdon, decided it was his ideal car.
Denzil is 72 years young! 47 years ago, at the age of 25, he was working as a mine overseer on the mines when he was involved in an underground rock fall. He was trapped under all the rocks, damaging his spine and causing paraplegia.
I was admitted to the Chamber of Mines hospital, Cotteslow, in Johannesburg where I was treated for my injuries and completed five months of rehabilitation. After rehab I returned to the mine where I was informed that I would be treated like any other employee and if I couldn't do my job, I didn't thave a job. As my career as an underground official was obviously at an end, I studied for a diploma in Human Resources where I could continue to make use of my knowledge of conditions underground. Later on I was appointed as a Planning Mine Overseer and I continued in that position until I retired. My working life on the mines was full of ups and downs as the mining game is a tough one.
He recently bought the new Honda Civic Elegance 1800, automatic, four-door sedan (R271,900 before rebate) and is still getting used to it. The Hatchback is R10,000 cheaper than the sedan, so why the sedan? I chose a sedan instead of a hatchback as much out of personal preference as any other. My previous car was the Honda Jazz and that was a hatchback, but I wanted this car to have a boot. This is probably going to be my last car so I wanted the very best I could get.
I use a Quickie Ti rigid wheelchair as it is light. It fits into the boot very nicely as the wheels easily pop off. My wife, Pat, is 74 so the weight of the wheelchair is very important. When I was at Chairman getting my handcontrols fitted I saw the new Panthera X from Sweden. It only weighs 2.1kgs without wheels, but, as anybody in a wheelchair knows, being disabled is not acheap hobby.
Over the years I have driven all the Hondas, from the Prelude to Jazz, and I have never had a day's problem. All Hondas are fully imported so they qualify for the rebate. I think the rebate on this one works out to about R40,000. My previous car was the Jazz, it was great and I had it for five years, but I wanted this car to be perfect. I looked at the CRV, but it is a bit too high for me to transfer into now that I'm getting older. The Jazz and the Civic are at a perfect height for me to transfer. The doors are great for transferring too, they open very wide to about 90 degrees. I also don'tt want to start using a transfer board yet. I want to try and maintain what strength I still have in my arms and shoulders. But they have taken some serious strain over the years.
In my opinion the Chairman hand control is one of the finest, possibly even the best. It is safe and fitted by professionals who know and understand what a paraplegic needs. I have used Chairman hand controls since Neville Cohen's days and, as they last forever, I just have them transferred from one vehicle to the next, and they keep improving on them. I have had these latest hand controls about 10 years. It costs much less to transfer hand controls rather than having to buynew ones.
I put my Civic in the same class as a Mercedes. It is just as big and gives a very smooth ride. You don't even feel the gear changes. It is also very handy having all the controls on the steering wheel. You keep your hands on the steering wheel all the time so that is a big safety feature. The acceleration and braking is top notch too and the steering responds well.
So far I am enjoying the elegant ride and I feel safe. The leather seats are firm and comfortable but I haven't had the chance to take it on a long journey yet.
Before the accident my wife, Pat, and I participated in many sports so, after the accident, I looked around for a sport where I would be able to participate on an equal footing with able-bodied persons. Archery was just such a sport! In 1985 I received my national colours in archery for both disabled and able-bodied competition. My friend, Willie Kokott, and I are, so far, the only people to have achieved this remarkable achievement. I must admit that,without the assistance of our wonderful wives this would never have happened. I now play bowls for pleasure.