From £18,3406
Revised Civic features sharper looks, new kit and chassis tweaks, but its rivals remain cheaper and more compelling

Our Verdict

Honda Civic Tourer

Practicality, an accomplished ride and a strong, clean diesel engine make a convincing case for this small family estate

Matt Burt
14 April 2015

What is it?

This year is unquestionably an important one for Honda. Firstly, the high-performance Civic Type R and the flagship NSX are due to be launched.

Secondly, the company is busy revamping every model in its line-up – including this, the Civic Tourer. It benefits from a range of upgrades in an effort to keep it on buyers' radars alongside estate versions of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

So on the outside you'll find redesigned bumpers, a tweaked grille and more elegant daytime running lights, while inside the Civic benefits from new door trims and seat fabrics, and a new Android-based infotainment system.

The Tourer's chassis has also been fettled, with adjustments made to the responses of the electronic power steering, a new stability system, which is claimed to boost traction and grip, and new dampers and bushes. These changes have, reputedly, created a more enjoyable experience for the driver. Each Civic gets active city braking as standard now, too.

Furthermore, Honda has cut up to £1600 off the price of the facelifted Civic in a bid to make it more competitive with less costly alternatives.

What's it like?

It remains an unquestionably practical car. In standard configuration it offers a whopping 624 litres of storage space, which is 99 litres more than the larger Ford Mondeo

This useful nature is echoed in the design of the rest of the interior. There's plenty of space in the front and lots of decently sized cubbyholes. Three can sit abreast in the second row, in part thanks to a low-slung central tunnel, and even taller passengers can be accommodated without difficulty in the back.

It's not all good, though. The Honda's seating position is rather perched, the dash is overly cluttered and frequently fiddly to interact with and some of the materials - for example the tops of the door cards - leave a lot to be desired.

These foibles detract from what is otherwise a comfortable, smart cabin. While the new media and sat-nav system works very well indeed, it too could do with a little polish. For example the buttons down the side are flimsy and lack the quality you might expect.

Out on the road the Civic has the kind of long-legged demeanour you'd look for in a car like this. The ride can be patchy on rougher surfaces, but it corners well and cruises along with minimal fuss.

The controls are light and their responses well judged, further reducing driver workload, but there's little in the way of steering feel or additional weighting when cornering. As an effortless family hack it's perfect, but those seeking something offering a little more will be left wanting.

The quiet 1.6-litre diesel proves to be a good match for the practical Civic, however, providing enough motive power to stop it feeling like a mobile obstruction. The 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in a relatively prompt 10.5sec and the engine responds quickly and willingly. 

Predictably, it doesn't have the in-gear punch of a 2.0-litre diesel, but what it lacks here it makes up for in outright economy. Honda claims an average of 72.4mpg for the Civic, which in conjunction with its 50-litre tank will grant it a nigh-on 800-mile range.

During our test we easily returned an indicated 54mpg, which bodes well for some impressive real-world figures - and also means a realistic range of around 600 miles. You'll only pay £20 a year in VED, too, while its low emissions make it a good candidate for company car drivers.

Should I buy one?

As practical and as likeable as the Civic is, it remains quite an expensive choice. A similarly specified Ford Focus Estate would set you back £24,295, for example, saving you £1845 compared to the Honda.

The Ford is also far more rewarding to drive, its driving position superior to that of the Civic, and - as a final twist of the knife - it's similarly economical and exempt from VED. If a cavernous boot isn't a must, take the practicality hit and opt for the Ford.

Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC 120 EX Plus manual

Location Swindon; On Sale Now; Price £26,140; Engine 4 cyls, 1597cc, turbodiesel; Power 118bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 221lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1440kg; Top speed 121mph; 0-62mph 10.5sec; Economy 72.4mpg (combined); CO2 rating & BIK tax band 103g/km, 18%

Join the debate

Comments
10

14 April 2015
...in my opinion. Finally the looks appear to gel. Delivering a decent looking exterior. I'm pretty sure which car is going to prove more reliable long term, if the choice is between a Ford or a Honda. But for a short term lease, both cars should be reliable enough - so it comes down to costs and which car a person does prefer.

14 April 2015
They've updated it outside and in, given it a far better engine and lowered the price by a whopping £1,600 which makes you think they were overcharging in the first place. Anyhow the estate works well with a diesel engine but the hatch needs a decent petrol engine, and soon!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

14 April 2015
As an ex mk6 vti owner I do have a soft spot for Honda but have stayed away since the 'upturned bathtub' mk 7. I think they need to go away and do something completely different with the next car. Perhaps get back to the form follows function of the mk6, dump electrical steering and go back to a proper rear suspension ? There must be room in the market given all the 'me to' solutions out there and the price they want to charge...I await the mk9 with interest and hope .

15 April 2015

Morning Andrew. I think you have a very valid point; every person I speak to about the Civic always has fond memories of the previous generation – particularly the way it looked – yet they never really express any interest in this one.

15 April 2015
Lewis Kingston wrote:

Morning Andrew. I think you have a very valid point; every person I speak to about the Civic always has fond memories of the previous generation – particularly the way it looked – yet they never really express any interest in this one.

We're considering it as Honda's biggest estate*, a rival to similar models from other companies.

*Their website still lists the Accord Estate, but good luck actually finding a showroom with one. And if you do the real world economy seems significantly lower

While it's a nice car and compared well generally with the more expensive cars of rivals, the main thing that puts us off is a small boot. It certainly doesn't seem like a bigger boot than the Mondeo. Is that one of those 'to the window line' measurements designed to favour tiny windows and hatchbacks?

I don't know how the average estate buyer uses their boot, but for us we're certainly looking at them for both carrying big objects and stuffing it full. The boot cover in our current car is permanently left under the boot left.

I appreciate it's a slightly smaller car than the Mondeo, Superb, V70 etc. but until we get the new Accord it seems like Honda's strongest competition.

AV

14 April 2015
...but very little about the engine and gearbox which are, if other sources are correct, top of the class by quite a significant margin.
Perhaps the matter is decided by whether you are a petrol head or a fashion victim.

15 April 2015

Hello AV. The engine and gearbox are indeed very good, but haven't changed in this facelift version – hence focusing on some of the interior updates.

Outside of the powertrain, what do you think about the Civic? Would it be a serious candidate if you were in the market for an estate like this?

14 April 2015
I don't think the Civic badge is doing this car any favors. To me, Civic conjures up images of previous cheap, smallish Japanese hatchbacks, not the commodious 1440kg British built estate described here. It's a pity that Honda couldn't distance this car from the hatchback by reviving the Aerodeck name. That might make the car sound a bit more special, rather than the Astra / Focus alternative it appears to be. Incidentally I don't think either of these models are true rivals to the Civic: I think Honda customers will have made a conscious decision not to buy these familiar mainstream models, and will instead be looking at Toyotas, Nissans, Hyundais etc.

14 April 2015
This review completely fails to mention the Civic's clever seating. The Focus is, in comparison, far less cleverly packaged. Estate buyers aren't just after a big boot. Folding the Ford's seats requires more effort, too. It's just a shame that the Civic's dashboard remains a complete mess after the futuristic previous model, and there are indeed some horribly naff plastics lingering. But to recommend the Focus based simply on the premise that it's more fun to drive? Come on, Autocar.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

15 April 2015
"But to recommend the Focus based simply on the premise that it's more fun to drive? Come on, Autocar." they also mentioned the not to little £1,800 price difference

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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