I like the petrol engine as much as the next person, but I can see the writing is on the wall for the internal combustion engine and manual gearbox partnership.
The public’s desire for ease of use and the technical set of electric cars means the clutch, and with it the skill of clutch control is on the way out.
What’s more, unless there is a massive rise in the development and use of renewable or carbon-neutral fuels, it is unlikely that the electric renaissance will stop any time soon.
This is why cars like the Honda Civic Type R are all the more important, not only because they demonstrate what this iconic duo have given us, but also what electric cars don’t.
Last week I was given a white Type R to find out what it was like to live with, how this featherweight behaved and I discovered just what electric cars are missing.
The overriding thing that electric cars are missing is feel. If that seems like a slightly vague and flowery thing to say then let me explain.
When I talk about feel, I mean how much information you the driver are getting about the road you are driving on and what the car is doing over it.
In many modern cars, not just electric ones, you are cocooned way behind inches of insulation and steering systems that are so light you could turn the car with a couple of fingers.
While this is jolly good and makes operating even a large SUV less intimidating, it leaves you slightly long-sighted as you literally cannot feel what the wheels are doing and you have less idea of how much grip you have.
If this sounds like something that doesn’t apply to the everyday motorist then it does, particularly when the conditions are icy where any knowledge (vis-a-vis feel) of what your car is doing is vital.
It is this vital sensation that the Honda gives the driver in torrents whether driving down a B-road or going around a roundabout.
In the Honda, the steering wheel vibrates and your bottom hums as the bumps, rises, crests, and ridges of the road rise up, you have all the information you need to not only navigate but enjoy your journey.
It also adds to the excitement of the car along with the short throw of the manual box which has a delicious set of ratios that turns it from a mere tool into a musical instrument.
It is this fundamental engagement with the car that electric cars are currently missing because there is more to driving enjoyment than just getting off the line quickly, it’s what you do afterwards that matters.
Companies like Porsche, Caterham, Audi, Lotus, and MG know this and are making strides in adding some joie de volts into their electric offerings, a reassurance that people who enjoy driving won’t be forgotten about.
In the meantime, we should enjoy cars like the Honda Civic Type R, the Morgan Plus 4, and other non-converted classics that still roar to life and require you to balance the clutch with the throttle to help them get from A to B.
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