Honda Civic Tourer – Review
By Liam Bird
If you’re a fan of this year’s British Touring Car Championship you’ll already be familiar with the shape of the estate – sorry, Tourer – version of the Honda’s new Civic. What might come as a surprise to you, though, is that originally Honda had no plans for a Tourer version of their latest version of the Civic at all.
The new Civic Tourer is the first stretched Civic since 2001’s snappily entitled Aerodeck. It’s built at Honda’s UK plant in Swindon to take on the likes of Seat’s Leon ST, perennials such as Ford’s Focus Estate and Vauxhall’s Astra Estate. Plus, of course, the bench mark of the class, the estate version of Volkswagen’s Golf. In Europe at least, there has been a steady decline in the sales of larger, more traditional estate cars, but the market for mid-size load-luggers remains buoyant. You can see why Honda then, who’s larger Accord has always proved so popular, suddenly want a slice of the pie.
“Class-leading boot space”
From the C-pillar forward, the Tourer will be familiar to anyone who’s already sampled the current Civic hatch. The blacked-out grille, the low nose, the short front overhangs, the angular styling; they’re all there. As is the interior’s split level dashboard. This lets the rev-counter take centre stage beneath the digital speedometer. Then equal-sized fuel and temperature gauges put in supporting roles on the left and the right. Sadly, the dated-feeling combined sat-nav and radio unit also makes an appearance. But that said, despite it’s slightly after-market looks, like everything else inside the Civic it is at least clear and easy to fathom.
Even the most fleeting of glances will be enough to tell you it’s at the rear that the most dramatic changes have taken place. The Tourer’s wheelbase is identical to that of the Civic hatch. But it’s the extra 235mm in additional length that makes all the difference. The Civic Tourer offers class leading boot space – all 1668 litres of it – once the rear seats are flat, or a not too stingy 624 litres with them up.
It’s because Honda have placed the Civic’s fuel tank further forward that they’ve been able to free up so much space. The boot is split level. There’s very generous cubby below a false floor and should you need to carry taller items the ‘Magic Seats’ (Honda’s words, not mine) can flip up cinema-seat style as well. Carrying that yucca plant back from the Garden Centre should never be a problem again. Loading it won’t prove problematical either; the rear doors open to nigh-on 90 degrees and the boot floor level is the same as that of the sill.
“Smooth and refined”
The rear of the Tourer may offer you a myriad of options when it comes to accommodating all of life’s accoutrements, but under the bonnet you get only two. Your engine choices are Honda’s 1.6 i-DTEC diesel (in a manual only) or their 1.8 i-VTEC petrol. Having driven the petrol I can tell you that’s it’s both smooth and refined. Honda claim it’s capable of 44.1 mpg. However, it’s also a little gutless. Especially when you consider what the Tourer’s been designed to do. The lack of torque and the lack of a turbo mean you soon get to know the gearbox very well indeed. Plus, CO2 emissions of 149g/km mean you’ll need a band F tax disc.
Better perhaps to opt for the oil-burner. Not only is the diesel much cleaner than the petrol (99g/km CO2 compared to 149) it’s also much punchier (petrol 128 lbft; diesel 221 lbft) and more economical as well (petrol’s 44.1mpg plays the diesel’s 72.4). It’s also only half a second slower to the all-important sixty; in the real word are you really going to notice? It’s no wonder then that Honda predicts it’ll be the bigger seller. If it were my money on the table it’s the diesel I’d be leaving with.
“Reputation of reliability”
Ah yes, the money. Hondas have always been… how shall I put this? Reassuringly expensive. But then the engineering is always impeccable. Honda starts the bidding for a Civic Tourer at £20,270. For that you get an impressive amount of standard kit. DAB, Bluetooth, air-con and 16” alloys are all standard. However, if you like niceties such as fog lights, cruise control, bigger wheels and adaptive damping – which works on the rear suspension only and has setting for Comfort, Normal and Sport – you’ll have to find some deeper pockets. The range tops out with the £27,690 for the 1.8 i-VTEC EX Plus auto.
Hugely practical, comfortable and with the biggest boot in it class. The Honda’s Civic Tourer ticks all of the right boxes without ever feeling or looking like just another box. Honda’s reputation of reliability also means that as long as you’re careful when it comes to picking the right engine and spec, this already good-looking car becomes even more attractive.
Honda Civic Tourer 1.8 i-VTEC SR
Engine: 1,798cc, 4Cyl, 16V Petrol
Transmission: 6 speed. Front Wheel Drive
Power: 140 bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque: 128 lbft @ 4300 rpm
0-62mph: 9.6 sec
Max Speed: 130 mph
MPG: 44.1 combined
VED Band: F