Honda Civic Tourer first drive


Honda Civic TourerHonda’s new Civic Tourer, designed in Europe and built in the UK, hits the showrooms this month.

It will also hit the race circuits soon as Honda are using the five door Tourer estate to compete in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) which they have won for the last four years with the Civic hatchback. The last time a mainstream manufacturer campaigned an estate in the BTCC was Volvo over 20 years ago.


Although the Civic Tourer BTCC version will be powered by a 350bhp, 1.8-litre petrol engine with a 0-60mph time of about 4.0-seconds and maximum speed of 150mph, the public models are much less powerful. Both units, like the Civic, are built at the Swindon factory and are the new 1.6-litre 120PS turbodiesel unit with sub-100gkms emissions and manual transmission and the 1.8-litre 142PS petrol unit emitting 149gkms with manual or automatic transmission options. The eight-model range runs from £20,265 to £27,460.

There are four trim levels, S, SE Plus, SR and EX Plus and depending on the spec chosen some version will get as standard or as an option the new Adaptive Damper System to improve ride and handling under varying loads. SE Plus and SR combined are expected to account for 80% of sales.


Honda Civic TourerA ‘first’ is the availability of the Driver Assistance Safety Package wrapping up radar and camera systems to keep the car within lanes and speed limits as well as alerting to blind spots and stationary traffic ahead. It’s available from SE trim upwards for £780 or you can go for the Safety Pack Two and get cruise control and automatic emergency braking for £2,500.


Philip Crossman, Honda UK managing director he expects to sell around 4,000 units of the Civic Tourer estate in the UK this year of which 30% will go to fleet/business user-chooser customers. “We do no unprofitable daily rental business for any of our models.UK sales of the Civic five door Hatchback will be around 20,000 units this year” he added.


He said, “95% of the new cars we sell in the UK, the Jazz, Civic and CRV are produced in the UK at Swindon and I expect to sell between 55,000 and 58,000 units here this coming year. There will be no stressful forced sales either directly by us or our 180-strong dealer network.” Honda’s UK sales in 2013 were 57,000 units a 2% increase over 2012.


Commenting on their BTCC programme Mr Crossman said, “We need to be in racing whether it is with our motorcycles or cars and following on in 2015 there will be a real noise from Honda. We see the arrival of the new Jazz, Civic Type-R, NSX sports car, a compact SUV based on the Jazz platform, a high performance engine for the CR-V and of course our involvement in F1 with McLaren.”


Leon Brannan head of cars Honda UK said, “This is a really important car for us and critical for our Swindon plant operations. It has been designed jointly at our facilities in Germany and Swindon and it is being built at out UK plant. The Civic Tourer ticks a lot of boxes by being practical with a huge load space, bigger in some cases than D-segment estates so it will be attractive to downsizers. Demand for well equipped versatile compact estates is growing and we expect the Civic Tourer to take around 10% of estate C-segment sales in the UK. The target group customers are families raising young children and customers with children who have left home and who are downsizing from the higher category-segment cars.”


Honda Civic TourerHonda Civic TourerHe added that of the two engines currently available the 1.8-litre petrol engine should reach 1,500 UK sales this year and the new diesel unit around 2,500 registrations. With customers favouring finance packages the Civic Tourer is available from £239 a month over three years with a 0% PCP rate. There is also the option of a five year care package which includes five years warranty, servicing and roadside assist for just £500 and 90% of customers are expected to take up this offer.


The new Civic Tourer has the same wheelbase as the latest five door hatchback version but is 235mm longer overall. This has given a huge load area ranging from 624-litres, the largest of any C-segment estate with the rear seats in use, increasing up to 1,668-litre with them folded flat using their ‘Magic Seats’ system. There is a completely flat load floor and an under-the-load floor compartment. The boot has an easy clean carpet developed in Europe where the loops on the carpet pile are shaved off so such things as dog hairs or Christmas tree needles don’t get trapped.


The Tourer adopts all the changes recently introduced for the 2014 Civic Hatchback such as re-tuning for the electronic power steering to sharpen response and for better ‘feel’. The Tourer also has the same body rigidity as the Hatchback for taught handling. The new Adaptive Damper System, a world first in this sector, automatically adjusts the rear suspension damping forces to improve stability and ride comfort under varying load and driving conditions. In addition there are selectable Comfort, Normal and Dynamic settings the driver can choose from to tailor the performance to passenger needs.


In most other respects the Tourer is the same for specification and interior specification as the Civic Hatchback. The most noticeable improvements is the vast improvement in rear visibility without a spoiler across the rear window as with the Hatchback and significantly more headroom for rear seat passenger with the higher rear roofline but the rear seat legroom still remains limited for adult passengers.


During the rain soaked UK media launch where traffic filled, flooded roads prevailed, I tried both power units. By far the most viable unit is the new 1.6-litre 120PS (118bhp) four cylinder aluminium turbodiesel engine. With 300Nm (221lb ft) of torque from 2,000rpm and with its very slick action six-speed gearbox it was the most responsive and nicest to drive. Top speed is 121mph, zero to 62mph takes 10.5 seconds. There is a difference in fuel economy and CO2 emissions due to wheel size and specification but Combined Cycle fuel economy ranges between 72.4 and 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions for S and SE Plus versions are that all important 99g/km so VED road tax is free. The SR and EX Plus variants have 103g/km of CO2 so VED road tax is free for the First Year rate and £20 for Year Two onwards. From April Benefit-in-Kind company car tax will be 15% or 16% depending on the spec chosen. My test drive fuel economy figure was 54.1mpg for the SR spec model against the official 72.4mpg figure.


Honda Civic TourerHonda Civic TourerAs for the high revving 1.8-litre petrol unit with 142PS (140bhp), it might have more power than the diesel but it has significantly less torque at 174Nm (128lb ft) from 4,300rpm so it not very responsive unless it really worked hard. It is likely the extra weight of the Tourer over the Hatchback has dampened the real-life performance and that’s before it is loaded with luggage. Top speed is officially a healthy 130mph and zero to 62mph takes 9.6 seconds for the higher grade model but it feels more sluggish in real-life even though the engine is free-revving matched with a fast six-speed manual gearbox. One factor which will make it appeal, this engine does have the option of an automatic transmission. For the SR specification with the manual gearbox the fuel consumption is 44.1mpg in the Combined Cycle and in real-life my test drive on busy roads returned 35.4mpg. The CO2 emissions are 149g/km so VED road tax is £140 and company car drivers will pay 21% now and 22% from April. With the petrol engine around £1,200 less to buy than the diesel unit, depending on the spec of the Tourer, it is an appealing proposition but the diesel costs less to run and is much the nicer and more responsive to drive on a busy roads.


MILESTONES: Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC SR manual (likely best selling model). Price: £25,560. Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel, 118bhp, 221lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 121mph, 0-62mph 10.5 seconds, 72.4mpg Combined Cycle (54.1mpg on test), CO2 103g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £20 Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 16% from April. Insurance group: 16. Warranty: 3-years/90,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,535mm, W 1,770mm, H 1,480mm, boot/load space 624 to 1,668-litres, 5-seats. For: Huge load space is its most important feature that and sporting good looks, easy to fold rear seats, good range of specification choices, responsive diesel engine, low running costs, adaptive rear suspension improves ride, handling and balance over the Hatchback. Against: More expensive than the Golf Estate and SEAT Leon ST although roomier, petrol engine has to be worked hard, sat/nav system fiddly to use and looks like an after-market item. Miles Better News Agency

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