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Honda Civic Tourer 1.8: ‘A practical, capable car.’ Photographs: Simon Stuart-Miller for the Guardian
I liked the last Honda Civic. It was a pleasing shape, cohesive and neat, with nice little design touches – triangular exhausts, for example – to lift it above the mundane. The current model, in many ways a very sensible and able car, is less successful looks-wise.
They’ve gone a bit crazy with these design touches, too many curves and edges, simply too much design, in fact. As if it’s pretending it’s from somewhere interesting like maybe Italy, when it’s really – and clearly – from an ugly town off the M4. (The Civic might have Japanese roots, but it’s made in Swindon.)
This new estate is no different – sorry, tourer; car manufacturers seem to be avoiding the E word, possibly because it sounds too Swindon. Anyway, it’s more of the same, it just goes on for longer: 235mm longer to be precise. It’s more striking than a Golf estate or a Mondeo, but striking isn’t always a good thing; I’d rather remain unstruck by an understated Ford or VW than be beaten aesthetically about the head by one of these.
Otherwise, like the hatchback that gave birth to it, it’s a practical, capable car. Inside it’s very comfortable, plus there’s the added advantage that when you’re in it, you can forget how ugly it is. Just avoid reflective shop windows. Obviously you wouldn’t get a Honda Civic estate – sorry, tourer – for driving thrills, and this one, with a 1.8-litre petrol engine, isn’t going to spice up your life, but it’s well mannered, enjoyable even, to drive. The diesel looks like a much better idea – with way better fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
The real joy of the Civic Tourer is the size of the boot. It’s big. And then there’s more, underneath the floor (drug smugglers, take note, this could be the one for you, though customs men might be on to this one). It’s because they’ve cleverly put the fuel tank under the front seats, so you get 624 litres of luggage space.
Forget drugs, think Swindon, and its other famous sons and daughters. As it happens, 624 litres is pretty much exactly the collected volume of Melinda Messenger’s brain, Mark Lamarr’s quiff, 70s prog rockers Supertramp’s entire back catalogue, one of James Dyson’s Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaners, and Manwatching by Desmond Morris. It’ll all go in, no dramas.
And if you fold the back seats down, you’re up to a whopping 1,668 litres. Which… you’ve already done the maths, haven’t you? In goes Mark Lamarr’s ego, too, explorer David Hempleman-Adams’ oxygen cylinder, Diana Dors’ boobs, Billie Piper’s lips and the whole of Nick Hewer off The Apprentice, should you wish to take him. You might even sneak those drugs in, too, under the floor. The car might look better after them.
Top speed 130mph
Acceleration 0-60mph in 9.6 seconds
Combined fuel consumption 44.1mpg
CO2 emissions 149g/km
Eco rating 6/10
Cool rating 3/10