From £18,3408
Late-stage prototype proves Honda’s seriousness about extending Civic’s appeal. Still quirky, but now extra sensible with it.

Our Verdict

Honda Civic Tourer

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

What is it?

A prototype of the forthcoming Honda Civic Tourer, bound for UK showrooms in early 2014. And it’s aimed directly at the market-leading compact estate – the Skoda Octavia Estate. Alright, maybe the Octavia isn’t actually so small – but it does have more than 600-litres of boot space under the parcel shelf; something that European buyers are responding to in large numbers. Target number one for the Civic load-lugger, then, was to match that boot volume.

And thanks to the Civic’s space-efficient torsion beam rear suspension system, they’ve hit the bullseye. Seats up and tonneau in place, you get more than 600 litres of storage here, rising to more than 1500 litres with everything folded: numbers that could put a BMW 3-series Touring in the shade. And all that from a car you wouldn’t guess belonged at the capacious end of the class by the way it looks outwardly.

What's it like?

The Civic Tourer is on the same wheelbase as the standard five-door hatchback. It will be built at HMUK Swindon, and uses the hatchback’s engines and major mechanicals – with one addition: adaptive dampers sourced from Sachs. Uniquely, they’re offered as an option for the rear axle only – Honda’s justification being that by dropping the adaptive units on the front they can produce an adaptive chassis with 80 per cent of the functionality of a four-corner system but at half the cost, weight and complexity.

Makes a pragmatic kind of sense typical of Honda – and it works quite well. At a steady state cruise in any car, the greater proportion of ride control flows from the rear axle, and you become very aware of that fact when flicking between ‘Comfort’, ‘Normal’ and ‘Dynamic’ modes on the Civic’s centre stack and perceiving plenty of difference. Not as much as you’d feel in magnetorhelogically damped Audi, or even a VW Golf with adaptive dampers – but enough to make the system worth having. 

Our test allowed drives in both a standard passively damped Tourer and an adaptively damped one. The standard car’s a little on the firm-riding side; has to be, says Honda, to provide decent body control with max load onboard. It’s fine – just not quite as roundly impressive as the five-door Civic 1.6 i-DTEC we drove earlier this year.

‘Comfort’ mode on the actively damped car, however, adds a more supple, loping motorway compliance that the passively damped Civic wagon can’t quite match. It also seems to take little precision or feel away from the steering, nor allows the car’s body to wallow. Because the dampers are active, they automatically compensate for load and for a tortuous road surface, firming up in both compression and rebound when necessary. Their function feels a bit like the air-sprung rear-end of a Mercedes E-class Estate, without the automatic self-levelling. 

The car rides quietly too, and has pleasing weight and feedback through the steering wheel rim. Handling balance is very decent; rounded, with a slight stability bias, which is exactly as it should be in a car like this.

The engine range will include Honda’s 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol and its low-emissions 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel. The latter powered our test prototype, and again showed impressive refinement, flexibility and economy, and very respectable performance for an engine of its kind. 

 

Should I buy one?

If you’re happy enough shopping at the low-emissions end of the family car class – downsizing, perhaps, from a larger wagon and keen on saving a few quid on your monthly outgoings without giving up much on space – you should probably consider the Civic Tourer.

There will be no 2.2-litre diesel version, and there’s no sign yet of a higher-output version of the 1.6 oil-burner to add breadth of appeal to the range – so those looking for a sprinkling of performance feel should look elsewhere.

But warmer versions can follow on. Honda’s starting at the right place here, with a competitive compact family car that should sell to fleets, and adds generous practicality to a mix of real-world sensibleness and quirky design appeal. It isn’t perfect, but still very creditable.

Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC

Price from £21,000 (tbc); 0-62mph 11.0sec (tbc); Top speed 125mph (tbc); Economy circa 70mpg; Co2 sub-100g; Kerbweight 1400kg (tbc); Engine 4cyls, 1597cc, turbodiesel; Power 118bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 221lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
14

24 July 2013

We bought a Civic Aerodeck many moons ago at a time when the Civic in both hatch and estate forms were very popular, in fact there are still plenty of those Aerodecks on the road.

Don't know what the actual sales figures are but given the lack of 13 plate Civics I see, Honda need something drastic to happen for this car to sell.

   "The standard car’s a little on the firm-riding side; has to be, says Honda, to provide decent body control with max load onboard".

 Sounds more like an excuse than a limitation to me. Wouldn't it be better to set the car up for everyday use and any compromise limited to those few occasions the car's driven under max load? 

24 July 2013

scotty5 wrote:

Don't know what the actual sales figures are but given the lack of 13 plate Civics I see, Honda need something drastic to happen for this car to sell.

They're running at about 10,000 sales year-to-date in the UK. That puts it in 36th place sandwiched between the Passat and the Ford B-MAX - not too shabby. It's well ahead of things like the CR-V, Tiguan, Mondeo, Q3, A5, V40, Ceed, Megane and a few other popular models.

I see a fair few but the Tourer shape would help the appearance and sales no end, I reckon.


24 July 2013

bomb wrote:

scotty5 wrote:

Don't know what the actual sales figures are but given the lack of 13 plate Civics I see, Honda need something drastic to happen for this car to sell.

They're running at about 10,000 sales year-to-date in the UK. That puts it in 36th place sandwiched between the Passat and the Ford B-MAX - not too shabby. It's well ahead of things like the CR-V, Tiguan, Mondeo, ...

By your figures that means the Ford Modeo is at best 38th in the UK sales figure chart, seems a bit strange and lowly to me! 

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

24 July 2013

xxxx wrote:

By your figures that means the Ford Modeo is at best 38th in the UK sales figure chart, seems a bit strange and lowly to me! 

It's 42nd for the first 6 months of this year, it hasn't been a top 10 car for some time. Sold just over 8,000 units in 2013 but it's rising with the recent changes they made. Even so, the market has been moving away from this traditional type of offering for years.


24 July 2013

bomb wrote:

xxxx wrote:

By your figures that means the Ford Modeo is at best 38th in the UK sales figure chart, seems a bit strange and lowly to me! 

It's 42nd for the first 6 months of this year, it hasn't been a top 10 car for some time. Sold just over 8,000 units in 2013 but it's rising with the recent changes they made. Even so, the market has been moving away from this traditional type of offering for years.

I know BMW sold 34,000 3 series cars in 2012 so that's 4 times as many Mondeo's were sold. Looks like if you want something diffferent in this class go for a Ford as BMW's are as common as muck!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

24 July 2013

bomb wrote:

scotty5 wrote:

Don't know what the actual sales figures are but given the lack of 13 plate Civics I see, Honda need something drastic to happen for this car to sell.

They're running at about 10,000 sales year-to-date in the UK. That puts it in 36th place sandwiched between the Passat and the Ford B-MAX - not too shabby. It's well ahead of things like the CR-V, Tiguan, Mondeo, Q3, A5, V40, Ceed, Megane and a few other popular models.

Ha ha...   just one reason why I never pay any attention to the official figures. CR-V? I've seen plenty new shape ones. Tiguan, seen them too. Mondeo? I see the odd '13 plate. Q3? Loads! A5? That must be the most popular Audi around these parts, they're everywhere - and mostly black convertibles. V40? Yep seen enough of those, Ceed?  CEED !!!! That has to be one of the top 5 '13 plate cars - common as muck. Megane - must admit, can't remember seeing many new Meganes...  Civic? If I said I've seen two or three '13 plate Civics, that'd be a conservative estimate.

Don't know how the official registrations work, perhaps most Civics have been registered to Honda to boost sales figures, but for anyone to suggest the Civic is more popular than the new Ceed!!!  I really would find that hard to believe.

 

 

25 July 2013

scotty5 wrote:

bomb wrote:

scotty5 wrote:

Don't know what the actual sales figures are but given the lack of 13 plate Civics I see, Honda need something drastic to happen for this car to sell.

They're running at about 10,000 sales year-to-date in the UK. That puts it in 36th place sandwiched between the Passat and the Ford B-MAX - not too shabby. It's well ahead of things like the CR-V, Tiguan, Mondeo, Q3, A5, V40, Ceed, Megane and a few other popular models.

Ha ha...   just one reason why I never pay any attention to the official figures. CR-V? I've seen plenty new shape ones. Tiguan, seen them too. Mondeo? I see the odd '13 plate. Q3? Loads! A5? That must be the most popular Audi around these parts, they're everywhere - and mostly black convertibles. V40? Yep seen enough of those, Ceed?  CEED !!!! That has to be one of the top 5 '13 plate cars - common as muck. Megane - must admit, can't remember seeing many new Meganes...  Civic? If I said I've seen two or three '13 plate Civics, that'd be a conservative estimate.

Don't know how the official registrations work, perhaps most Civics have been registered to Honda to boost sales figures, but for anyone to suggest the Civic is more popular than the new Ceed!!!  I really would find that hard to believe.

 

 

This depends entirely where you live, the quality of the local dealers and the local demographic.  Here on the Sussex Coast with an older population we see loads of Mazdas, Skoda's and Honda's because of good local dealers.  Virtually no new Mondeos or Focui although billions of Fiesta's.  A few Hyundais and Kia's and a few BMW's. 

I guess if I lived in Guildford I would think BMW, Audi and Mercedes were the top sellers.

24 July 2013

I see Honda has done nothing to address the look of the current Civic, with its ghastly, incongruous Y shaped plastic grille surround ... The Mark 8 Civic was at least distinctive, with the clear strip running across the front of the car incorporating the headlights, but I guess this was ditched due to replacement costs? ... From a nation that prides itself on clean, simple lines, the Honda range sadly comes across as gauche and fussy ...

 

MrJ

24 July 2013

Hope it looks better than the hideous current-gen Civic Hatch.

If only they'd just tidied up the spacey last-gen, and put their efforts into addressing the ergonomic issues instead.

 

24 July 2013

Each time I see the current-gen Civic, I still recoil a bit in horror... I thought the previous-gen Civic was a great break from the norm for Honda, but the current model is an awkward mess. What frustrates me most is the fact it would look so much better if it wasn't so over-styled.

Lose the after-market looking LED running lights and make the front-end/wheelarches one colour. A look at the BTCC Civic (paricularly the Pirtek entry), which has just one colour at the front, shows how much more attractive this car could be...

Honda seem to have really lost their styling direction recently - the current CRV looks ungainly, as does the new Jazz. As someone who used to work in a Honda dealership, it's a shame the company seems to be running out of good ideas.

 

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