Have you ever bought something simply because it was very cheap? I’ve done this more times than I can remember - how else would I end up with a pair of Nike skate shoes that I’ve only worn once in five years? A friend of mine has recently bought something really cheap as well – a 1999 Honda Logo he found posted on Switzerland’s glocals.com. It cost him all of CHF 250, and in a country where cars cost roughly twice what they do in North America, calling it a bargain is a bit of an understatement.
Okay, it does have over 249,000km (around 155,000 miles) on the odometer, has a little bit of rust, and its previous owner didn’t seem to care too much about not hitting objects with it. Luckily, the interior is in much better shape than the exterior. There is no broken door handle or trim that’s falling out of place, and every switch and button works. It has central locking and electric windows too, with the driver’s side being one-touch-down automatic.
First thing you notice when you take this Logo out for a drive, is how quickly its 1.3-litre engine starts up. It's instantaneous, firing up after what seems like barely two turns of the engine. Get the Logo moving and its little engine can be likened to a small terrier – small, not that powerful, but energetic. When you’re driving in the city you forget that the Logo only has 65hp, the pace it provides at anything under 80 km/h is more than acceptable. You can even leave it in third gear at 30km/h and it will pull cleanly (you won’t confuse it for a torque monster, though) up until the next gear-change.
The 1.3-litre engine definitely does not feel as if it has covered over 249,000km, which goes to show how well made Honda engines are. This car also makes you learn how to drive smoothly, those typical first and second gear lunges are common if you have a nervous right foot. Squeeze the gas pedal progressively, and smooth driving is back on the menu.
Another thing you notice, at least on a hot July weekend, is that there is no air conditioning. AC was optional though, and there are plenty of second-hand ones with it. There is no rev counter either, so you have to let your ear/instincts determine when to change gear.
Speaking of gear-changes, the quality from the Logo’s five-speed manual is surprisingly very good. You look at the gear lever and you think it’s either going to feel too light and lifeless, or just notchy and a pain to use. Instead, there is a pleasant mechanical feel to every gear-change, and is just the right weight for city driving, as well as empty-country-road driving. The ride quality is typical of a small car though – it copes fine 85 per cent of the time, but is a bit bouncy on rougher roads.
It’s only when you ask the 1.3 for full on acceleration that you'll notice its modest horsepower. The engine doesn’t have a lot to offer once you go past, say, a quarter of gas-pedal travel, and on the highway you can hear the engine spinning at high revs to maintain the Swiss national speed limit of 120km/h. So, the Logo isn’t most comfortable on highways, but on a twisty bit of mountain road – like the one between Nyon and St.Cergue – it is fun. The combination of a sweet-shifting manual, nicely-weighted steering, being light (the Logo weighs 963kg), and skinny low-grip tyres, means an entertaining ride.
Being a driver of a 2001 Mercedes ML430, the Logo’s compactness is delightful, especially when it comes to parking. You can just sling the Logo into spaces where you had to creep in with the ML. It’s very refreshing to know that you don’t have to give up a parking space that even a normal-sized car – let alone a Logo – would fit into.
This three-door Logo can actually sit four adults in reasonable comfort, and with a high roofline, there’s plenty of headroom even for six-footers. The boot/trunk is tiny, it’s enough for some groceries and carrying a small-sized suitcase, but anything bigger will require folding down the back seats. There’s a cassette player (remember those?) in here too, but I never used it since the last cassette I bought was in the ‘90s. However, with an auxiliary wire connected to the cassette deck, I was able to connect my smartphone and MP3 player to the system. The standard two-speaker system does not have much bass, but the sound itself is very clear.
Driving the Logo mainly on city roads, a little bit on the highway, and some enthusiastic driving on mountain roads brought a total fuel consumption figure of 10.8 litres over 150km. This translates roughly to 7.15l/100km (Honda’s official city consumption figure is 7.8l/100km) or 39.46mpg (UK), which comes to show just how well this Logo works despite the age and mileage. With a fuel economy figure like that and low insurance premiums, the Logo is one of the cheapest cars to run.
Prices for a Logo obviously will vary from age, mileage, options, to overall condition. Dealer cars with less than 150,000km can be had for as low as CHF 2,500 in Switzerland, and between €1,000 and €2,000 in the euro zone. In the UK, where the Logo was available for just one year, a Logo with about 100,000 miles can be had for £1,000.
By Alex Kisiri