The unique state of Britain’s roads is forcing car manufacturers to come up with new ways of testing a car’s suitability for the UK market.
Engineers at Honda have been unable to replicate the British driving experience on Japan’s super-smooth roads, so have taken the step of creating a test track complete with potholes and the sharp, off-camber bends found on our rural highways.
The four-mile track, based at the firm’s test centre in Hokkaido, is made from the more absorbent tarmac used in the UK. Its porous surface cracks easily and replicates the rutted roads British drivers endure on a daily basis. It can also be temperature controlled to create the sub-zero conditions of our winters.
For added realism the test track also includes UK-style roundabouts and road signs. Speaking to the Daily Mail, a Honda spokesman said: ‘The road surfaces in continental Europe, especially in the North, are paved with hard material that does not absorb water. ‘This is because, in severe winter, absorbed water in the material may freeze, turn into ice and destroy the roads.
‘England doesn't tend to suffer with this severe winter, and so the surface is made with softer materials with many pores to absorb rain to prevent a slippery surface.
‘As a result, UK roads have a rougher surface, which creates more road noise than other European roads.
The recent cold snap has caused a nightmare for British motorists, with £23 million in compensation paid out to pothole damaged vehicles in the last year and councils struggling to keep on top of road repairs.