Convertible city car gets digital airing before Frankfurt Motor Show premiere
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The Top Gear car review:Honda Civic Tourer
For:Spacious, comfy, and it doesn’t look like a Golf
Against:It's not supposed to be a driver's car, but even then it's not that involving
1.6 i-DTEC SE Plus 5dr
A comfortable, capacious method of transporting Things. Doesn’t like to go fast, but does like to work hard in an unruffled way.
Need a family hatch to carry exactly 2873 tennis balls? Step this way…
What we say:
Civic Estate designed to offer sector-topping practicality. We can't fault your logic there, Honda
What is it?
Honda has clearly recognised the demands of the utilitarian type; they like utility. And space. Lots and lots of space. So although there is some talk of this new Civic Tourer being designed and developed in Europe – alluding to a more dynamic drive, which we’ll come to shortly – there’s no mistaking the raison d’etre for Honda’s new estate-ified hatch.
It sits on exactly the same platform as the Civic hatch, only with a longer rear overhang to create that huge boot. In fact, at 624 litres with the seats up, it trumps models from a couple of classes above for space; cars such as the BMW 5-Series Touring and Audi A6 Avant (and nearly matches them with the seats down). It’s big.
The Civic features an adaptive damper system that only operates on the rear axle – to counteract and offset that huge payload – but it’s too detached to be a serious driver’s estate. There’s almost zero feedback from the wheel and the steering is too light. But this means it’s hugely comfortable, cosseting, isolating from poor road surfaces (excellent for the UK) and stress-free. Aloof yes, but comfy. The manual gearbox is great, too.
There are just two engines on offer from launch, and we’d err towards the 1.6-litre diesel. Though it’s a 0.9secs slower to 60mph than the 1.8-litre petrol it’s got more torque, better economy and creeps under the magic 99g/km of CO2 barrier. It’s punchy and smooth when you’re cruising about and remains impressively refined. All the better to make unruffled haste.
On the inside
It’s a well-built interior, this, but as with the hatch, suffers in comparison with the best rivals. Sit inside the new MkVII Golf and you’d think the Civic was a bit too buttony. Cluttered, even. That said, it’s a bold design, with futuristic styling that continues the external flourishes, and everything falls to hand easily enough. Then there are the nifty back seats, that fold flat into the floor, and have bases that flip up and lock into place creating a tall secondary boot. Plenty of room back there, if you just want to insert people, too.
You can’t get the 2.2-litre diesel in the estate (Honda’s ditching it for the hatch, too), but no matter, because that 1.6-litre is good: 74.3mpg and just 99g/km of CO2 means you can transport your 2,873 tennis balls (an actual Honda storage fact) in the boot for 817 miles on a single tank. Four trim levels on paper become three in reality, because the S-T is too basic: SE Plus-T is the bare minimum. It quickly gets expensive if you want more than this, though – £27,500 for a posh diesel is dear…