BENEATH the grass this is no ordinary Honda Civic. It is the latest example of Honda's fourdoor Civic with IMA, a development of the petrol electric system pioneered with Honda insight.

The system comprises a 1.4-litre petrol engine teamed with a powerful electric motor/generator sandwiched between the engine and gearbox.

The main battery is maintenance-free and located in the boot behind the rear seat.

The electric motor boosts engine power during acceleration hill climbing, enabling the car to perform like a bigger engine model.

The motor acts as a generator when braking or descending hills, the idea being to store energy released during braking, to be re-used during later acceleration.

So, instead of energy being lost in the form of heat when the car's brakes are applied, the energy is stored as electrical energy in the battery.

The self-charging nature of the IMA system means the car never has to be plugged in to an electrical supply, furthermore, the electronic control system assures there is on risk of the main battery becoming completely discharged.

Because the electric motor only provides assistance to the petrol engine, only a very small battery is required, resulting in virtually no loss of boot space.

It doesn't, however, mean the Civic cannot be driven on battery power alone, both petrol and electric engines always work together.

As well as offering exceptional fuel consumption, IMA offers very low emission levels, excellent driveability and performance.

The system is destined to become a major feature of Honda's car range in the UK with other applications currently in the planning stage.

And the grass car? It was created by bonding 30 square metres of high grade wasted turf to the Civic's steel body.

Three dozen 500ml cans of industrial grade impact adhesive were used for the purpose, with a paint shop curing oven used to partially dry the grass and get it to fix to the car.

The process took two people two days to complete during which 14 cups of coffee and six bacon butties were said to have been consumed.

The layer of turf adds an estimated 280kg to the weight of the Honda Civic, rising to around 700kg when watered (a daily task to preserve the new bodywork).

The car's performance is also adversely affected by an increase in aerodynamic drag, particularly if the grass is allowed to grow long.