Honda S-MX: Not sure why I like it, but I do

I haven’t spoken on the Honda S-MX for a while, and that’s probably because I haven’t driven it much over the past month or so. Instead, I’ve been hurtling around the UK in borrowed cars, collecting the ZX (then breaking down in it) or been stuck in my garage trying to remember how to put a 2CV back together. It was telling that when I jumped in it yesterday, the brakes made that horrible BANG noise that suggests they were rusting up…

It has probably been glad of the rest, seeing as most of the 3300 miles I’ve done it in were completed in the first two months of ownership. Even yesterday, it was only required to drive around eight miles to the local petrol station as I sought fuel of various kinds (but not petrol as it happens).

Working vehicle.

Working vehicle.

As you’ll have seen from my anti-SUV rant, I prefer a car with a low loading lip, and the S-MX certainly delivers on that score.

Beautifully low!

Beautifully low!

Certainly, it’s a very easy car to get large gas bottles in and out of, with plenty of room for a bag of logs too (our promised wood delivery last week didn’t arrive due to courier error). Remember, the Honda has a footprint slightly smaller than that of an MG3, yet has a load area that is much larger and easy to access than that of the MG GS or, to avoid questions of bias, the Nissan Qashqai.

Of course, the news isn’t all good. The lack of a rear door on the driver’s side is a pain in the backside for a start, while I’m yet to find the leak in the tailgate that causes an annoying drip. The wind deflectors have practical advantages, but destroy vision in the process.

But it’s out on the road that the S-MX really falls apart. The ride is bouncy and harsh (how very Honda) while the steering manages to be so hideously light that you sometimes wonder if the front wheels are actually on the ground at all. Then it lurches around the bend with all the grace of a surprised gazelle, generating quite remarkable levels of G force even at low speeds. Maybe it’s because, having assumed the front wheels are not on the ground, you’re surprised that it has actually made an effort to go around a bend.

Then there’s the automatic gearbox, which still has a revving issue on downshifts – I tend to pre-empt the kickdown by downshifting myself. It’s all quite rubbish really.

Yet, I can’t help loving this car. It is one of the best cars I’ve ever owned, even though I thought that driving dynamics were an absolutely key part of what makes a car appeal to me. It makes no bloody sense at all. I do quite like the looks, which is probably the root of the problem. Us humans will happily ignore a whole heap of troubles because something (or someone) looks nice. I guess we see why SUVs are so popular…

What do you reckon?

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