Honda Civic -1.8-litre petrol unit is smooth and easy revving in nature but is least powerful
The Japanese on the other hand believe in bringing alive the real flavour of ingredients. Hence the 1.8-litre i-VTEC motor with its ultra smooth and rev happy nature is a good fit. It loves to redline and loves the sporty chores in life. The 5-speed auto 'box too is quick to shift while paddleshifters behind the steering helps matters even more. The steering too is quick and precise. Indeed it’s just fantastic to flick the Civic around! The suspension though is on the stiffer end and has a tendency to crash into potholes, which does spoil the consistency of the meal a bit.
Renault Fluence -2-litre petrol engine has enough grunt for the car to keep cruising
The French love to enjoy their food. They take their time to go through the courses gradually and top it up with wine every once in a while. The Fluence too is all about that! It packs in a 2-litre petrol engine which is a smooth operator. Now it may not sound very sporty but the 137bhp on tap makes the car sprightly nonetheless. As you can see, just like in France, fast food is available but not really preferred. So the Fluence will get to 100kmph from zero in 10.7 seconds but it's happier cruising. The CVT too is in the same tone – a bit slow. But put it into manual mode and shifts are quicker. The suspen sion too is on the softer side, just right for cruising. However it also shows traits of sportiness as it does hold on to its line around corners. The speed sensitive steering on the Fluence is a plus. At standstill, it lightens up making negotiating three point turns easy, but weighing up a bit as speeds rise.
Skoda Laura -1.8 TSI motor (above) offers superb performance and acceleration. (Right) Getting in is the easiest in the Laura
The Czechs again are not the type to believe in glitter. They believe in the meaty bits and hence most of the Laura's meat is found under its bonnet in the 1.8-litre TSI motor. It's ultra smooth, offers a brilliant note to the ears and at the same time ensures that the Laura keeps most of the traffic, including some bigger cars, well behind it. The Laura's dressing comes in the form of its 6-speed manual gearbox which feels super smooth as it slots in and out of the cogs. The steering too is well weighed and at the same time offers the most feedback making it a joy to swing the car around corners. Complimenting it is the suspension which is firm and offers a superb blend of handling and ride quality. It might be a little heavy (in terms of fuel consumption), but the flavour (the driving bit) of this Czech delicacy is the best!