I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Honda have a ‘bad’ reputation for making reliable cars, OK so sometimes a recall is required that seems to happen with all manufactures but with Honda its rare. That ‘bad’ reputation doesn’t necessarily mean you have a automatic rubber stamp, a seal of approval if you will when it comes to the best selling car in the UK. People always go for the brand, but whats wrong with Honda as a brand? You would assume having a reputation for reliability is game over for the competition. However consumers will go for the brand image for the sake of elevating their sense of self among their car owning peers.
Take the Honda Civic Tourer, probably the company’s most striking looking model, the general theory is estates tend to look better than the hatch or saloon they are based on. It’s a compact estate so you get compact dimensions, the chassis is exactly the same length as the hatch but has a longer rear overhang. And its not as compact inside as the product designation would have you believe its fairly roomy for both front and rear passengers.
The 2015 Tourer has received a raft of minor upgrades a new set of headlights with integrated daytime-running lights, new front bumper and side skirt designs. The interior gets fabric upgrades, new door trims and chrome handles. Indeed Honda interiors are always solidly built, defined by soft touch surfaces and that wrap around dash. Although the primary heating controls are now accessed digitally, via the touchscreen interface which has the effect of de-cluttering the central control panel.
So why do people like estates? practicality of course and the Civic Tourer has class leading standard boot space of 624-litres with the rear seats upright and 1,668-litres with the rear seats folded flat. Clever packaging of the suspension and fuel tank means there is also a false floor beneath the central loading bay which adds another 117-litres of space.
The Tourer is available with two engine options, the 4-cylinder, 118bhp, 1.6-diesel and the 1.8, 4-cylinder, 140bhp petrol engine. Now you may assume the more powerful petrol is the obvious choice here, but its naturally aspirated and lacks the torque of the turbo-charged diesel powerplant. Naturally the diesel is the engine of choice both for its power and fuel efficiency, it will do 58mpg all day long if driven sensibly. And also the entry level model emits 99g/km of CO2 which is laughing in the face of the tax man and compares favorably to the entry level petrol model which emits 146g/km. Nuff said.
Being the top spec diesel Civic Tourer means you get all the kit levels afforded to you, so you will not be short on entertainment, Wi-Fi connectivity, Sat-Nav keyless entry, a leather interior and so on and so forth. However EX Plus models comes with Honda’s Adaptive Damper System as standard. And on the outside you get a choice of 17-inch alloy wheel designs with typically flamboyant names.
The Civic Tourer on test also came with a driver mode functionality. Typically you get three modes Comfort, Normal and Dynamic. Generally speaking the Civic Tourer rides and handles well enough. In Comfort mode you do notice a bit more roll in the corners, dial it all the way up to Dynamic mode and the body roll is all but eliminated and you can dart into and out of corners with a flick of the steering wheel which is well weighted at all speeds. Yes, there is fun to be had. Ride comfort levels are good in that most Honda’s have a firm but floaty ride quality.
The Diesel model is available with a six speed manual only and 4 trim levels where as the petrol variant retains the four trim levels overall it has eight models to choose from because of the addition of the automatic gearbox.
The entry level diesel 1.6-litre i-DTEC S manual will set you back nearly £20k the diesel EX Plus on test costs just over £27k with extras included. The Civic Tourer’s main rivals hail from the VW Group, the Skoda Octavia and Seat Leon estates, trim for trim. The Honda is typically more expensive by around £800 but of course you do get more kit. Its a close call between either of these brands.
But the Honda’s 1.6-litre engine is the best engineered of the bunch and both the Skoda and Seat are caught up in VW’s design language trap meaning they share similar visual characteristics. What ever trim you go for its going to be a tough call and that choice is ultimately down to you but don’t discount the Honda just yet.