Clever packaging is something that is a great asset to any company’s product. Take Apple’s iPhone for example… Its box is ergonomic, compact and aesthetically pleasing as well as capable of carrying out its primary function of housing the phone. The box echoes the ethos of the product, much like the new Honda Civic Tourer that packages itself around the practicality that its users require.
Around this time last year Honda revealed the Civic Tourer Concept, a design exercise that announced to the world that just because you need an estate car doesn’t mean you have to surrender a your sense of style. The car very much caught the attention of the media and the public confirming to the design team that they were on to a potential winner. A year down the line and the 2014 Honda Civic Tourer is now a reality, and in a rare turn of events, it looks just like the concept car.
You see, usually concept cars are greatly exaggerated echoes of what they eventually become when they hit the roads. Regulations and restrictions tend to neuter them of what made these machines unique on the show stand. Not the Civic Tourer! With its sleek long profile being detailed with sculpted body lines and broad shoulders at its rear, this car really does look the business. Whilst the Civic hatchback split opinion, there is no doubt that the estate variant is not only better looking, but potentially the most visually appealing car in its class. Despite being a Tourer, it is actually only 235mm longer than the standard hatchback. As a result Honda are fielding the 2014 Honda Civic Tourer in BTCC this year.
The interiors dimensions are just as impressive as the exteriors. Coming back to my ramblings of clever packaging, this car has an impressive 642 litres of boot space with the seats up or a whopping 1,668 litres with them folded completely flat. Also included are Honda’s “Magic Seats” which allow you to fold the base of the seats vertically like you would at the cinema. This means you have two areas for storage; the boot for the dog, and the middle for the shopping. Our SR specification test car came with full leather heated seats, Bluetooth, USB, DAB radio, dual zone climate control, voice activation and satellite navigation with DVD player. The cabin is very much somewhere you can settle down for a long journey surrounded by creature comforts.
This specific Tourer is powered by a 1.8 litre i-VTEC petrol engine which is very smooth and compliant. In tandem with its 6 speed manual transmission the car is responsive to throttle inputs and effortless in its gear changes. The steering is better weighted than in its hatchback counterpart and provides the driver with good levels precision whilst cornering. With parking sensors and a reversing camera making it easy to park, the Honda Civic Tourer is well suited to urban environments. On SR grade cars and above, is an adaptive damper system that allows for three modes of adjustment; normal, dynamic and comfort. Each offers a slight change in the ride with dynamic being the stiffest and comfort the softest. We found ourselves leaving the Civic in comfort for the majority of the time, only changing to dynamic when the roads became a bit more exciting. On motorways it is a fairly relaxing drive as you enjoy the support that the seats offer and the caramel-like smoothness of the engine. However, at higher speeds road noise does intrude upon the tranquility slightly which is a shame as the rest of the car is generally quite a soothing experience. In terms of economy, we returned a solid 38MPG in a combination of environments. Our “real world” figures were not a million miles from Honda’s claimed 45MPG, and paying a bit more attention to the cars ECON mode we might have got a bit closer.
Our test car came to £25,350 with all of its equipment, but an entry level car can be had from £20,265. Though that is a tad more costly than some competitors, you do get Honda’s typically excellent build quality and reliability. The 2014 Honda Civic Tourer 1.8 i-VTEC SR is a very solid effort from the company. With looks that set it apart from just about everything else in the car park and unrivalled practicality, it just goes to show that it is possible to have your cake and eat it.