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 previous generation Honda Civic was only available as a hatchback. However, shortly after the current model went on sale in 2011, the Japanese brand unveiled a more practical estate model with best-in-class bootspace and impressive interior practicality.
Honda had to heavily reengineer its five-door Civic hatch in order to offer more space than you’ll find in a Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia, but the results are well-rounded and nicely executed. The car’s overall length has been increased by 235mm, while the rear of the car has been totally redesigned to make it more practical.
The 624-litre boot has since been surpassed by the latest Peugeot 308 SW, but it remains a versatile and family-friendly estate car. The Civic range was given a light facelift in 2015, with changes to the headlights, grille and bumpers. There’s also a new Android infotainment system as well as new door trims, seat fabrics and dashboard panels.
There are just two engines to choose from in the Civic Tourer, with buyers missing out on the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol. However, the more powerful 1.8-litre petrol and punchy 1.6-litre diesel suit the car much better and do a good job of hauling the extra weight.
All cars come relatively well equipped, but top-spec 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. A ‘Navi’ pack is available on some trims, and is well worth £610 premium.
Our choice: Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC SE Plus
Opinion has been divided over the latest Honda Civic hatchback’s styling, and the Tourer is likely to provoke a similar reaction. It’s 235mm longer than the five-door hatch, with all the extra length at the back of the car.
Up front, you get the same short, rising bonnet, large wheelarches and distinctive nose as the hatch, while the A-pillars arc into the roof, which has been enhanced by flush silver rails. The roof flows elegantly into the tailgate, and the windowline tapers down towards the tail-lamps. Those large light clusters wrap around the back of the carand are joined by a red bar, while a relatively small rear screen and spoiler finish it off.
All models underwent a mid-life facelift in 2015, with changes to the headlights, grille and bumpers. Inside, changes have been made to the seat fabrics, door trims and dash panels – and while none is particularly revolutionary, it gives the Japanese estate car fresh appeal.
That said, we still think the Civic Tourer looks rather fussy, and the large gaps around the tailgate are at odds with the tight shutlines you’ll find on the SEAT Leon ST. Elsewhere, the Tourer’s cabin is identical to the hatchback’s. So the two-level dash is carried over, complete with the digital speedometer and multifunction display on top, plus a central rev counter ahead of you.
The driving position is high, in contrast to the low steering wheel, but the split in the dash means you can read the dials without the wheel getting in the way. On the centre console, there’s an array of buttons for the various functions. These take some getting used to, but are easy to use on the move.
The 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine is definitely the highlight of the Civic engine range. It’s a real gem, as it’s smoother and punchier than the 1.6-litre TDI found in the SEAT Leon ST and Skoda Octavia Estate. A six-speed manual gearbox makes the most of its performance thanks to a clean, precise shift action.
The petrol option is a 1.8-litre i-VTEC unit that revs freely, but feels a lot slower than its diesel counterpart. It does come with a choice of either manual or automatic gearbox but has to be worked hard to match the same easy in-gear grunt of the diesel, which spoils refinement. It struggles up steep hills too, and would not cope well once it has been fully loaded up with passengers and luggage.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Civic Tourer package is a bit of a letdown. It stays relatively comfortable when cruising, and has a softer edge than its rivals. But it’s still unsettled by bumps, and soft suspension means there’s significant body roll in corners.
The steering responds quickly, but it’s light and provides very little in the way of feedback. Push on, and soon the Honda will understeer, while the inside front wheel has a tendency to spin up if you accelerate with even a modest amount of steering lock applied.
In town, the Civic is relatively smooth, but the stop-start system is surprisingly rough. Every time the engine cut out or restarted, it sent a noticeable shudder through the cabin.
If you want peace of mind, then the Civic will deliver rock-solid reliability. Like most Japanese manufacturers, Honda has a good reputation for building cars that last, and the Tourer should be no exception. It’s built at Honda’s UK factory in Swindon, Wiltshire, so you’ll be able to fly the flag for British manufacturing with pride, too.
Honda’s dealers also performed well in our Driver Power satisfaction survey. They finished in fourth place, three positions ahead of Skoda, so expect first-class customer service.
The Civic hatchback has a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, although it only has six airbags compared to rivals’ seven. Honda’s Driver Assistance Safety Pack, which adds city braking, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, a blind-spot monitor and more, is only available as a optional extra on SE models and above.
The Civic Tourer used to boast the biggest boot in its class. However, since the introduction of the capacious Peugeot 308 SW, the 624-litre boot has now been surpassed. It’s still a practical car though, with the square opening and load load lip revealing a useable 1,668 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
There are four lashing eyes in the boot floor, and a deep bin underneath. Yet while the Honda has a 12V power socket, there are no bag hooks, the load cover is fiddly to use – although it can be stored under the boot floor when it’s not needed – and you can only fold the back seats from the passenger compartment. Still, they fold in one swift action, while the Magic Seats also flip up to create a second boot area in the back for smaller but wider items.
Return them to a seating position, and the Honda has less room than in rivals, while the angled door pillars make it feel more enclosed. Still, storage is decent, with a deep armrest bin and sunglasses holder, a big glovebox and reasonably sized door bins, although they’re smaller than those in the Skoda Octavia Estate.
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. Another slight issue is the seat adjustment - which is done with a stepped lever rather than a wheel - which forces you to either sit too upright or too reclined, without any middle ground.
The Honda Civic Tourer comes well equipped, with all models getting Bluetooth, digital DAB radio and 16-inch alloy wheels.
You can add a ‘Navi’ package to most trim levels for around £610, but you have to move up to higher-spec SE or SR trims to get goodies such as leather or xenon lights. The list price means the Honda will be a fairly expensive company car choice, too.
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. Higher-spec models with bigger wheels suffer slightly – with the range-topping EX Plus posting figures of 72.4mpg and 103g/km.
The petrol is less impressive, with a combined 45.6mpg and emissions of 146g/km - not bad but roughly the same as a four-wheel drive TDI version of the new Skoda Octavia.
Honda is famed for its mechanical reliability but does not offer the same long warranties as some of its mainstream rivals like Hyundai and Toyota. Depreciation will also be slightly higher than cars like the VW Golf Estate, even with the small fuel bills.