‘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