Honda Civic Tourer review
The Honda Civic Tourer is a hugely practical estate, with low CO2 emissions, a comfortable ride and class-leading boot space
The Honda Civic is already a very practical car but the company’s European arm has spotted a trend in the market for compact, spacious estates that sit just below cars like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia estates in terms of price but actually offer more room inside.
To do this Honda had to heavily reengineer its five-door hatch, and has increased the length by 235mm, as well as totally redesigning the rear of the car to make it more practical while keeping the same futuristic design. At launch there will be just two engines to choose from, one petrol and one diesel, and four trim levels.
Top spec ‘SR’ and ‘EX’ models also benefit from a new adaptive rear damping system that makes the Civic Tourer more comfortable and adjusts the handling when carrying heavy loads in the back.
Our choice: Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC SE Plus
Although the protruding rear lights and wide rear spoiler take some getting used to, the Civic Tourer keeps the sleek looks from the hatch largely intact. The futuristic design will not suit everybody, but the gloss black grille, wraparound glass rear screen and sharply defined wheel arches mean it avoids the boxy looks that are so common in this class.
All versions get alloy wheels as standard, while inside Honda has added some nice details like metal effect trim on the dash and steering wheel, and white stitching on the leather to help make it feel like a more premium product.
The materials certainly feel robust, but the front seats are too firm and unsupportive, and there is not enough adjustment so finding a comfortable driving position can be difficult. However the rear visibility on the Tourer is a lot better than on the hatch, and it keeps the same wheelbase, which means it's still easy to park and steer around tight spaces.
Honda does not offer the same level of choice when it comes to engines as big-hitting rivals like Volkswagen. The best car in the range is the diesel, which is the familiar 1.6 i-DTEC unit from the CR-V. It offers decent performance, with 0-62mph taking 10.1 seconds and 300Nm of torque on tap, but still manages to be just as economical as less powerful rivals like the Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon ST estates.
The six-speed gearbox has an easy, short throw and means you can make the most of the engine’s power, and the new steering setup has a more consistent weighting, which means the Civic Tourer feels very planted and stable at motorway speeds.
The new adaptive dampers (ADS) work on just the rear wheels, but help smooth out the ride on bumpy roads, and give the driver three different settings to choose from: Comfort, Normal and Dynamic – however all of them are pretty comfortable.
The petrol option is a 1.8-litre i-VTEC unit that feels a lot slower than its diesel counterpart, but does come with a choice of either manual or automatic gearbox. It struggles up steep hills though, and would not cope well once it has been fully loaded up with passengers and luggage.
As a brand, Honda has a very strong reputation for mechanical reliability, and the 1.6-litre diesel and 1.8-litre petrol have both been tried and tested before in other models in the range. The gearbox is also tried and tested technology, while the ADS dampers have a failsafe mode in case they malfunction while you are on the move.
The cabin feels very sturdily built, even if some of the electrics are a little dated. New optional safety equipment includes a Driver assistance pack that features gadgets like automatic city braking, Blind-spot monitoring, a forward collision warning, and traffic sign recognition, and is available from SE trim upwards.
It is split into two sections, with a deep stowage area below the boot floor that can take two cabin bags, and a flat section above that can swallow four bigger suitcases with ease. Total boot space is 624 litres – slightly more than an Octavia Estate – and with the rear seats folded down flat that figure rises to 1,668 litres to the roof. In this layout there is a special area for storing the parcel shelf, and a dividing net that can be mounted behind either the rear or front seats is included as standard. In the back the rear seat bases pop up cinema-style so you can carry tall plants or even a bike instead of passengers.
The longer roof of the Tourer means rear headroom is better than on the hatch back, and the only irritation is the awkwardly high driving position, which makes it hard to get comfortable at the wheel.
The Honda Civic Tourer comes well equipped, with all models getting Bluetooth, digital DAB radio and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Go for the diesel and you’ll get a car with a range of over 800 miles that returns an official economy figure of 74.3mpg and emits just 99g/km of CO2 – which makes it road tax exempt and should keep running costs very low indeed. Only the SEAT Leon ST Ecomotive and Toyota Auris Sport Tourer are cleaner.
The petrol is less impressive, with a combined 45.6mpg and emissions of 146g/km. However if you opt for bigger alloy wheels then the CO2 figures do creep up slightly, and Honda does not offer the same long warranties as some of its rivals like Hyundai and Toyota. Depreciation will also be slightly higher than cars like the VW Golf Estate, even with the small fuel bills.