Thursday, 21 May 2015

REVIEW - Honda Civic Tourer i-VTEC SR

So there is a trend at the minute of making family hatchbacks as estate cars. Seat have done it with both the Ibiza and Leon, Ford with the Focus, VW with the Golf and Peugeot with the 308. The advantage to this is that the cars remain a manageable size whilst being able to accommodate the family dog or holiday luggage. And Honda too has latched on to this market, giving us the Civic Tourer. I reviewed the 5-door hatchback not too long ago and was impressed by the practical solutions it offered, so I was especially keen to see what Honda could do with the estate version…

Looks – 9/10

I rather liked the 5-door Civic, with its futuristic styling. Although I wasn’t so keen on the split rear tailgate. The Tourer doesn’t have that, and as a result I think it looks even better than the hatchback. The sharp, almost pointy front end takes a sleek line right through to the sculpted rear lights. I really like the glass-to-glass feature at the back, with the rear quarter window meeting the tailgate superbly. And the rear-quarter is made even smoother by the hidden rear door handles. The shark-fin aerial looks good, and the SR gets 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels and these look great against the Passion Red Pearl paint.

The inside of the Civic is a nice place to be. There’s plenty of leather and some nice quality plastics. Throw in some gloss black finishers and a touch of aluminium and you have yourself a rather stylish cabin indeed. Then you get to the dashboard and instrument panel, which wraps around the driver. The instrument pods are prominent and a real focal point. The dials illuminate in a crisp blue and white colour and are split with an additional ‘heads-up’ style display above the steering wheel. The only slight issue is the lack of features in the back; it’s a little bit dark and gloomy being all black leather and plastic back there.

Handling/Performance – 7/10

The engine in my test car was- in my opinion- an unusual choice. It’s a 1.8-litre petrol engine producing 142PS and 174Nm or torque. Sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual it will do 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds and go on to a top speed of 130mph. It doesn’t sound too bad on paper, but Honda’s VTEC petrol engines don’t tend to offer much in the lower rev ranges, so you really have to work it to get the best out of it. Which is fine in a hot hatch, but not so good in an estate car. And on the motorway the petrol engine is quiet but once in 6th gear could use a little more overtaking oomph.

The handling on the other hand, is spot on. With the SR model you get Honda’s adaptive damper system. At the touch of a button you can change the suspension setup opting for normal, comfort or dynamic. And unlike some systems I’ve seen in the past, this one actually works. In dynamic mode the whole car feels stiffer. You notice even the smallest of bumps and on a rather exciting road it makes the car come alive. Then once you find yourself on the motorway pop it into comfort mode and enjoy a relaxingly-smooth ride. It’s a feature that- if done well- I’d love to see on more cars, because It means you don’t need to compromise on handling. And being a Honda there’s driver focus underneath all the leather and gadgets. The steering is sharp and perfectly weighted, and the driving position is superb.

Economy – 7/10

The other aspect of the 1.8-litre petrol engine that made it a surprising choice is with its economical appeal. The Civic Tourer with this engine does 44.1mpg on a combined cycle. The CO2 emissions are 149g/km which puts the Civic in VED band F; that’s £145 in the first year and the same thereafter. Granted, those figures could be worse, but then what you have to understand is that the other engine you can opt for is the 1.6-litre diesel engine. That does 72.4mpg and emits 103g/km CO2. So it just seems the obvious choice to me.

Practicality – 10/10

Honda came up with some innovative solutions in the Civic hatchback, such as the rear seat bench which folded upright to allow some taller loading in the back. However with the estate version they’ve gone even better. Now the bases of the rear seats fold down with the back so that the whole seats remain flat with the boot floor, which gives a truly vast load area. And then beneath the already vast boot floor is a ridiculous hole about a foot deep for extra storage. The Civic really looks a lot smaller on the outside than it actually is on the inside. The SR has cruise control, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth hands free, heated seats, a rear-view camera and auto-dimming rear view mirror. So to live with you certainly wouldn’t have any complaints.

Fun – 7/10

The Civic Tourer really surprised me. With its innovative use of interior space and ease of use I really liked having the big practical car, and no tasks were difficult with it. Two mountain bikes could go in there no problem, which pleased me. And although I wouldn’t choose the petrol engine myself, but coupled to the adaptive suspension (in dynamic mode of course!) and the need to work it hard to get anywhere, I had some cracking runs down the local A-road. Although this is an estate car first and foremost, there is an element of driver focus there, and when that shines through the Civic becomes rather endearing.

Concluding Remarks

So that’s my week with the Civic Tourer. It is of note that the car I tested was actually the 2014 model spec and not the 2015. However the changes are mostly cosmetic. The new daytime running lights found on the latest car are superb though, adding further to the futuristic styling. So if you’re looking for the family car with a little bit of extra space, be it for bikes, dogs or luggage, then perhaps this could be the car for you. And the price for the SR petrol model as I tested is £24,855 which includes £500 for the pearlescent paint. So if you want any more information see your local Honda dealership or log on to the Honda website. And that’s all there is to it. The Honda Civic Tourer SR; innovative, futuristic and most importantly, driver-focused.

Total Score – 40/50

1 comment:

  1. I definitely like how it looks. It's a nice family car without looking too... "family car-ish"? You can be a man and drive it around and not feel the slight embarrassment or emasculation that comes with having to drive around a big, lumbering, 4-door child transporter.

    Mitchell | jdmvip