From £18,3407
Diesel Civic Tourer performs capably, but poorer interior refinement means luggage space is prioritised over passenger comfort

What is it?

The Honda Civic in estate form, refashioned from the B-pillar backwards to pack the maximum luggage and, it has to be said, to appear a little more handsome than the rather awkward-looking hatch.

The car has been engineered in Europe (Germany and the UK, largely), a first for Honda, and with it comes a range of technology upgrades that will also appear on the hatchback. These include a driver-assistance safety pack, featuring a city-brake system, forward collision warning, automatic headlamp high beam, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, blind spot warning and a monitor that warns of passing traffic when you’re reversing. It costs £780 – good value – and is available on all versions bar the entry-point S.

Honda has also improved the appearance of the Civic’s dash – an area of criticism on the hatchback – with the application of some matt-black finishes, aluminium surrounds for the airvents and double stitching for the gearlever gaiter and driver’s knee pad. Subtle stuff, but an improvement nonetheless.

The Tourer itself is impressive on a number of counts, not least thanks to its vast seats-down load bay, whose 1668 litres also includes a sizeable under-floor well occupying the space where you might have found a spare wheel. The floor itself is flat and low, in part because the Civic’s fuel tank is cleverly housed under the front seats.

This allows the cushions of the back-bench to hinge upwards and clip to the backrest, providing a particularly tall and useful load zone. Honda calls them magic seats, and it’s a surprise that no other maker has copied them. The under-floor well stores two regulation carry-on airline cases, and includes dedicated storage for the tonneau cover and the two-position cargo net, and a shopping back hook that locks into position. The carpets are easy-clean, too.

An intriguing Tourer feature is a set of switchable adaptive dampers for the rear axle, standard on the top two trims, a £550 option on the lower two.

What's it like?

Much like the Civic hatch, as you’d expect. The Tourer handles tidily, its steering is precise but short on feel and the 1.6-litre diesel engine is civilised and decently torquey, if not quite the smoothest oil-burner out there.

Noise suppression is impressive though, the cruising boom that spoils some estate cars soothingly absent, and the car feels stable at speed, Honda having closely matched front and rear lift. Its aerodynamicists need to fix the side-window water-eddies that distort your side mirror view, though. 

And the adaptive dampers? You can switch between comfort, normal and sports, a change that’s just about discernable if you concentrate. But this party trick is likely to be of marginal advantage to most Tourer buyers, for whom self-levelling would be a greater benefit.

It’s also a shame that the back seat’s cushion is too flat, with luggage space clearly prioritised ahead of rear seat passengers. Poor thigh support is the penalty, although headroom improves a little over the hatch.

Should I buy one?

If you need space above all else, and your rear seat passengers are either absent or small, this Civic is worth a thought. Its loadspace is among the class best, and is particularly versatile thanks to those 'magic' seats and the well-thought-out detailing throughout. The diesel’s emissions are low (99g/km for the S, 104g/km for the SR) and this engine is also developing a fine real-world reputation for economy.

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Honda has also developed competitive PCP finance prices for the car, and a five-year aftercare package for a keen £500. The Civic’s cabin still looks a little disjointed and rear seat comfort is definitely a minus, but this wagon is certainly a contender.

Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC SR

Price £25,560; 0-62mph 10.1sec; Top speed 121mph; Economy 72.4mpg (combined); CO2 103g/km; Kerb weight 1337-1430kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1597cc, turbodiesel; Power 118bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 221lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

Join the debate

Add a comment…
vrskeith 3 February 2014

Not impressed

Totally over priced in this competitive market.
LP in Brighton 31 January 2014

High revving diesel?

Is the diesel really red-lined at 6,600 rpm, or do the pictures show a petrol-powered example?
scotty5 31 January 2014

Only Honda die-hards will purchase.

Interesting to see no comment on price - the car featured £25500 and that's not even top model. Others may see the car as modern, I couldn't disagree more. From someone who purchased Honda's in the mid 90's (I bought a new Civic Aerodeck), most of those buttons and italics look very familiar. And the layout is a mess. You have one full binnacle for a small temp gauge? Another full binnacle for a small fuel gauge? And a digital dashboard - what's that all about? And then there's the option list, or lack of it - if I want cruise in base models, I'd specify cruise as an option, not so with Honda - you're forced to go up to mid range spec. It's like saying if you want cruise, it's a £1600 option. The sat nav looks like it's been purchased from Halfords, it's hardly integrated - a real throwback to the 80's never mind the 90's. Honda are another manufacturer who've seen sales suffer. Hondas used to be a common sight on the road, the Civic used to be a top 10 best seller. There's no doubt the engines will be good (has Honda ever made a bad engine?) and much thought has been put to the design of the car, but ultimately it's a mess. It may well look better than it's hatchback counterpart but that's hardly saying anything, so too is every other car.