It’s all about the boot

Road test: Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC EX Plus

It’s “all about that bass” (sings Meghan Trainor) and now we have Kim Kardashian West’s rear-oriented ‘break the internet’ pictures. Yes, everyone (should the popular press be believed) is talking about booty. Honda, of course, understood this first, gave its Civic a considerable rear and named it the Tourer.

We have always found the 2011-on Civic to be one of the most pleasing C-segment cars on the market to drive. While the hatchback has the odd difficult angle, we like the striking looks of the Tourer which seems to suit the extended arc of the rear wing more favourably. The tailgate of the Tourer also dispenses with the rear spoiler, so rearward visibility is much improved over the hatch.

Tactile elements

We have covered a couple of Civic variants in the past but this week has been a delightful reminder of just how good this car is. The driver’s seat took some fiddling to find a comfortable position but after that, all the tactile elements were found to be as good as we remembered: the weighting of the pedals, the accuracy and ease of the gear change and the steering feel.

Of course, the Civic is no longer new and its displays – perfectly acceptable though they are – are starting to date somewhat. Some functions, particularly for audio, are split between the main interface screen and the low-resolution display to the left of the digital speedometer. The main screen, while allowing all the necessary control, also has overly small buttons down each side, proving difficult to navigate, especially in poor light. The Civic is now available with additional driver aids, from Blind Spot Information (which worked well) to Forward Collision Warning (threw up some false positives) and High Beam Support (we’ve only found the Mercedes-Benz system effective).

The jewel in the Civic range is the 1.6 i-DTEC diesel. It offers seemingly modest power and torque figures yet pulls with surprising confidence. Let the revs dip below the 1,500 rpm mark and it will require a down change when on an incline or under load but otherwise, it is smooth and frugal.

Snake Pass sorted it out

Our particular car came with Honda’s dynamic suspension, adjustable via a small button nestling between the heated seat switches. After flicking between dynamic, normal and comfort settings over a few days, it honestly didn’t seem to make any difference at all to the car’s reasonable ride; we clearly needed to check this out properly. Snake Pass, that twisty, undulating route spanning the Peak District sorted it out for us. The settings barely affect ride at all, but stability in the corners is improved significantly in the firmest setting; choosing ‘comfort’ sent the car wallowing, particularly in some of the tighter turns. One can just about detect the added 27 kg weight at the Tourer’s rear through the corners but it remains well-mannered.

More practical than Kim Kardashian West’s derriere, the Civic Tourer’s boot holds a whopping 1,668 litres of space with seats folded flat – 300 litres more than the hatchback. With the absence of any spare wheel, the compartment in the boot floor proves extremely useful, stopping smaller items of luggage flying around. Add the clever rear seats (where the seat squab lifts vertically) and the Civic remains one of the most versatile cars in its class.

So, a great engine and driving dynamics, extremely well-thought-out internal space but interfaces to the technology now feeling their age. Three years in and the Civic in Tourer guise has matured well.

Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC EX Plus, £27,960 as tested (including £500 for pearlescent paint)

Power: 120 PS (@ 4,000 rpm), torque: 300 Nm (@ 2,000 rpm), emissions: 103 g/km CO2 (band B), 0-62 mph: 10.5 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○

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