Car of the month: the Tourer from Honda
PUBLISHED: 17:50 27 July 2014 | UPDATED: 17:50 27 July 2014
Stylish yet capacious and compact, Honda’s Tourer shows how the humble estate car has risen in the market
Estates are in vogue at the moment, though the word won’t crop up much at dinner parties.
You may hear people boasting about their Touring, Sport Tourer or plain Tourer, but the word estate applied to a car is a bit too ‘trade’ I’m afraid.
Traditionally, it conjures images of sales reps and wagonloads of samples, window cleaners with ladders on the roof or a farmer’s Sunday best car rather than the Land Rover – still practical enough to chuck a bale of straw in the back, however.
But ever since BMW coined the word Touring for its estates and Audi followed suit with Avant, the estate has shrugged off its blue collar and gained a country set image.
Mainstream brands then mimicked premium ones, especially as they realised that some keener drivers tried the SUV and MPV route, found the cars stodgy, and then cast about for something more responsive and stylish yet still practical.
So, we’ve had a rash of estates by other names, including Honda’s elegant Civic Tourer (from £20,265). It’s the first time Honda has spun an estate from its family hatchback (a sign of buyers’ demand) and it has been executed with style as a priority without sacrificing flexibility. It claims the biggest boot volume in its class, yet boasts aerodynamic lines and Honda’s impressive new 1.6-litre diesel (from £21,375) delivers a road tax-exempt 99g/km of CO2 and official combined 74mpg option.
This lightweight 120PS (118bhp) engine also offers a lively 0–62mph in 10.1 seconds. Not that the 1.8-litre petrol alternative tested here is poor. It will save you £1,105 against the equivalent diesel, is a second faster to 62mph and very refined, though it will cost you £140/year road tax and deliver a less impressive 45.6mpg (combined) so the comparatively small financial step up to diesel might not deter.
Honda enjoys a mainstream/premium market position plus enviable customer satisfaction record. Admittedly, prices for the new car are not cheap, but safety features and standard kit are generous and include Bluetooth HFT set-up, DAB Radio, USB connectivity and 16-inch alloys.
The Swindon-built car also feels solidly made, roomy and well arranged with a dashboard that is less space age than the controversial one on the previous generation Civic. But it’s the car’s sharp handling and decent ride, plus quite brilliant mix of looks and estate car ‘crammability’ that score highest; 624 litres of boot to the tonneau cover with rear seats up, and 1,668 to the roof with seats down, yet the Civic Tourer is the lowest and most compact estate in the segment and just 235mm longer than its Civic hatchback sister.
It also carries over Honda’s Magic Seat system, where the rear seat bases can be pulled up to allow loading across the rear seat wells, left in place to allow items to be stashed beneath them, or folded fully flat for large bulky loads through the tailgate.
The car’s Adaptive Damper System (ADS) automatically adjusts the rear suspension damping to enhance stability and comfort whatever the load or driving conditions. n