Long-term test review: Honda Civic Tourer

8 Oct, 2014 10:45am Chris Ebbs

Another long-distance trip as we bid farewell to Honda Civic Tourer family estate

Verdict

4

Mileage: 10,287
Real-world fuel economy: 54.1mpg

The spacious and frugal Civic Tourer has become the go-to ‘holiday car’ in the Auto Express office. After jaunts to the Peak District and Cornwall with colleagues, it faced its toughest assignment yet – a 1,026-mile round trip to mid-France with me. Not only would this thoroughly test the Honda’s credentials, it’d be a fitting send-off for the car, which was leaving our fleet after six months’ trouble-free service.

As I started to plan a holiday to my parents’ house in the Creuse district, I scanned the list of possible cars I could take. My two priorities were strong fuel economy and a decent amount of space, as I’d be taking my road bike with me. Of everything on the list, the Honda seemed to be the best candidate. Happily, it exceeded expectations.

For starters, the Civic was very easy on my wallet. Despite long motorway drives on the other side of the Channel, cruising at 80mph, it returned a very respectable 54mpg. There was plenty of room, too. 

Fold-flat

Pull a handle and the seats fold totally flat, leaving no awkward bumps or lips. This meant I could fit my bike, lots of kit and a few bags with no problems. The secure underboot storage also came in handy for stowing wine bottles on my return.

Honda Civic Tourer long-termer

As I was heading over to Europe, I’d need a km/h display, too. This proved easy, thanks to the car’s digital read-out and easy-to-access settings menu. Not only did this change the speedo to km, it altered the distance-to-empty fuel display on the central dash to km, too.

My trip was also made easier by the sat-nav working relatively smoothly on the other side of the Channel – although it did try to take me through the middle of Paris, rather than around France’s M25 equivalent, the Périphérique.

Honda Civic Tourer sat nav

This wasn’t the only distraction. Over the course of my journey I was hit with the same painful problem as Carbuyer site producer, Richard Ingram. Despite trying the lower lumbar support in various different places, I couldn’t escape the aches and pains of my lower back. In fact, as with Rich, I had to pull over on a couple of occasions en route to have a good stretch.

Still, this niggle was outweighed by the Civic’s many strengths. While it doesn’t have the panache of, say, a SEAT Leon ST, the spacious, cost-effective and solidly built Honda is fine family car. 

Honda Civic Tourer: report 2
Honda Civic Tourer long-term test car + grumpy Dawn

We’re having to fight for the keys to our Honda Civic Tourer, a spacious family estate

Mileage: 5,489 miles
Real-world fuel economy: 47.1mpg

If there’s one problem with running our Honda Civic Tourer, it’s that I never seem able to get my hands on the keys. Since it arrived on our fleet, the practical estate has been whisked away by members of the team needing to move house or go to the tip.

And now staff photographer Otis Clay has commandeered the Civic while his Mazda 3 is undergoing repairs after it was sideswiped by a lorry. As I organise Otis’ schedule, you would think it would be easy to grab the keys back, but appearing in the photo shoot for this report is the closest I’ve got to the Honda in the past few weeks.

Still, this does mean the car is being given a thorough test. In my hands the Civic was mainly used for my 20-mile daily commute into the office and weekend chores around my south west London home. However, in the space of a week or so Otis has already racked up more than 1,000 miles, the majority of which were on the motorway.

And Otis is as impressed with the Honda as I’ve been. The vast boot easily swallows all his camera equipment, while the rear seats provide enough space for my three adult children.

Honda Civic Tourer long-term test car rear seats

Fortunately, none of us has suffered the same aches and pains as Carbuyer site producer Richard Ingram encountered after a long stint behind the wheel (below). In fact, Otis has praised the Civic’s comfort on long trips, claiming the seats are more supportive than his Mazda’s. And my only niggle with the chairs is that the small button used to adjust the lumbar support is fiddly to use.

One aspect of the car that’s been universally praised is the 1.6-litre diesel. Not only is it smooth, refined and punchy, it’s also remarkably efficient. Over the past few weeks, the economy figure has crept up to an impressive 47.1mpg, which in combination with the Honda’s 50-litre fuel tank means a range of around 500 miles. The rest of the driving experience is just as good, with the only real criticism reserved for the brakes.

While the all-disc set-up is responsive at speed, in town there’s a confidence-sapping dead spot at the top of the pedal travel. It could be something we have to ask a dealer to look at. If only I could get my hands on the keys so I could drive it there...

Honda Civic Tourer: report 1
Honda Civic Tourer long-term test car moving house

A house move provided a stern first test for our spacious new Honda Civic Tourer estate

Mileage: 1,558 miles
Real world fuel economy: 47.2mpg

There's no such thing as an easy introduction to the Auto Express fleet, as our new Honda Civic Tourer discovered when I pressed it into service as a makeshift removal van days after it arrived in our car park.

With a rented room full of stuff to transport six miles across London to my new pad, the Swindon-built estate proved to be perfect for the job, as most of my belongings fitted in the gigantic and well-shaped boot.

In fact, with the seats in place, the vast 624-litre luggage area is not only bigger than those in the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra estates, it even eclipses the previously class-leading Skoda Octavia’s. What’s more, the Civic’s rear seat bases flip up independently of the seat backs, revealing another huge storage area, which proved perfect for picture frames and suitcases.

Honda Civic Tourer long-term test car boot boxes

However, in an attempt to de-clutter (and because my girlfriend turned her nose up at my countless model cars), I used the house move as an opportunity to throw a load of stuff away and dump the rest at my parents’ house in Devon.

This involved not only moving and organising my things in London, but also a 500-mile round trip down the A303 – all within 48 hours. The Civic’s big boot made light work of the task in hand, and my large bedside chest was squeezed in without the need to fold the back seats. There was even enough space left over to pack in a load of cushions, bedding and clothes.

The Civic’s 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine still feels a little tight, but even with only a few hundred miles on the clock and a boot full of kit, it felt responsive and capable on the motorway. We hope to see the average fuel economy of 47.2 mpg improve over the coming months, but for now we’ve got very few complaints about the rate at which it’s drinking diesel.

Honda Civic Tourer long-term test car driving

One niggle, however, is the Tourer’s long-distance comfort. In top-spec EX Plus trim it comes with all the toys, including sat-nav, cruise control and leather trim, but the lack of lower-back support in the front seats meant I was unable to complete the 250-mile London to Devon slog without a stop to get out and stretch. In fact, it got so bad on the way back that we had to swap drivers to combat the back pain. And at £27,460, the price isn’t exactly comfortable – you can get a 3 Series Touring for less.

Price aside, the Civic’s a spacious and economical family estate that swallowed everything I threw at it – from full- length mirrors to motorway miles. There are one or two things we’ll watch over the next few months, but for a hectic 48 hours, the Civic Tourer was very nearly all the car I could’ve hoped for.

Click for our full Honda Civic Tourer in-depth review

Insurance quote (below) provided by the AA for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Disqus - noscript

How can they justify asking so much for this car. The value of the JPY against the GBP and EUR has fallen steadily for over 3 years. The true price of Japanese products should have fallen significantly, even if they are assembled in the UK. Makes me wonder if Honda want the UK plant to fail so they can make more money building the cars in Japan.

I've heard words of praise from owners for Civic's economy, boot space, refinement and versatility, but the hefty price tag is impossible to get over (considering the competition) and is bound to limit it's sales to the current (already-impressed) owners.

I thought the top spec EX trim cam with 4-way power lumbar support.....

All staff can be contacted via firstname_lastname@dennis.co.uk

Key specs

  • Model: Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC EX Plus
  • On fleet since: March 2014
  • Price new: £27,460
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 118bhp
  • CO2/tax: 103g/km/£20
  • Insurance group/quote: 15/£366
  • Mileage/economy: 10,287/54.1mpg
  • Any problems?: None
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