Time Well Spent: Honda Civic Tourer SR 1.6 i-DTEC

Mike Humble:

The £25.560 Honda Civic Tourer 1.6 i-DTEC SR.
The £25.560 Honda Civic Tourer Diesel SR.

We’ll make no bones about it at AUTOBRITANNIA.NET. We like the Honda Civic for its bold looks, its well equipped cabin, its legendary reliability and able chassis. The Tourer continues the theme of a well designed and thought through car with the added bonus of extra space behind. The punchy 1.6i D-Tec engine is one of the industries best kept secrets thanks to the strong performance, low emissions and credible refinement – it worked really well in the 5 door version we tested a little while ago – very well indeed!

The Tourer is a whole lot more than just a grafted on cargo bay, there is a longer rear overhang and a pronounced slope to the roof that gives an end result of a sleek looking load lugger with an accent of a sporting cache. It also benefits from being developed and engineered in Europe with the bulk of the engineering input from UK based engineers at Honda’s plant in Stratton near Swindon. They’ve done a pretty good job too as the Sports Tourer looks assertive, smart and business-like – we think it looks better than the current 5 door.

The styling looks very smart and it's European work too. The falling glass line is a nice effect but we are not convinced with the rear door handles.
The styling looks very smart and it’s European work too. The falling glass line is a nice effect but we are not convinced with the rear door handles.

The test car was the manual diesel version in “SR” trim level which is one down from top of the range; it’s very nicely trimmed up too with leather seats, a very in-depth computer, rear privacy glass, dual zone climate and all the usual buttons and switches. At just over £23.000, the SR model to some may seem a little expensive but you are getting a car that’s seemingly very well made with a respected reputation for holding its value not to mention superb engineering behind it. Its 1.6 diesel engine is also UK produced and offers 120Ps with a hefty 300Nm of torque running through a 6 speed manual gearbox – the only automatic option comes with the 1.8 V-Tec petrol.

We could find no fault with the deep red Milano paint finish and the bodywork all lines up with steel rule precision – exterior fit and finish is right up there with the very best. The sleek pointed nose is the epitome of aerodynamic prowess and the powerful headlamps are backed up with neat spoiler mounted fog lamps. If there is any gripe with the exterior it’s the rear door handles that feel and look a little cheap – they are slightly out of place on a £23K motor car. The rear tailgate lifts up to reveal a cavernous boot that has an amazingly low floor that hides a secret box for valuables that need to be temporarily hidden from peeping Toms.

The cargo bay is well thought out and truly massive. Clever suspension design and the fuel tank mounted up front means you have well over 1600 litres of loadspace and a bery flat floor.
The cargo bay is well thought out and truly massive. Clever suspension design and the fuel tank mounted up front means you have well over 1600 litres of loadspace and a very flat floor.

With the rear seats in place you have over 600 litres of space at your disposal, drop the backrests down and that more than doubles to a colossal 1668 litres in total. The super low floor and cathedral like space in the rear is due to the clever rear suspension layout and the fuel tank being positioned under the front seats. Honda has not missed a single trick in terms of passenger / cargo room with plenty of space, headroom and locations for loose clutter. In the back, you’ll find the usual Honda “magic seat” where the base cushion lifts up akin to being at the cinema. Using this facility and thanks to the almost flat rear floor, anything from Mountain bikes to a tumble drier can be stored upright.

Driving controls are mainly sensibly placed and the split level dash features a mix of digital and analogue displays. Night time driving does bring an annoying level of window reflections that requires a little twiddling of the panel dimmer. You also have to study the controls and manual to get the general idea of working both the trip computer and info-tainment system – the latter is amazingly complicated until you get used to it. This multi media system also looks rather aftermarket and out of place with the rest of the facia. The buttons are very small and messy but the sat-nav and sound quality of the audio are very good in operation.

Interior is well made and very refined. Leather is standard as is dual zone climate but some controls are fiddly and awkward. Head unit is very complicated to operate on the move but the sat-Nav and audio sound quality are both excellent.
Interior is well made and very refined. Leather is standard as is dual zone climate but some controls are fiddly and awkward. Head unit is very complicated to operate on the move but the sat-Nav and audio sound quality are both excellent.

A neat stubby gear knob works with precision and drivers will find no problem with the brakes and handling, the chassis is particularly impressive and the steering has good feel and feedback too. The tourer also has good refinement and even though the engine cannot disguise the fact it’s an oil burner, it revs freely and never offends the ear. It warms up fairly quick too, and warm air soon floats out from the heater but just like the audio head unit, the buttons are a little bit too small and fiddly for some peoples liking.

As with the 5 door Civic, the Tourer is likeable car that offers that certain sparkle in comparison to other brands. It has a truly massive boot, It’s well made, well equipped and drives nicely with good economy too. There is much to enjoy with the Civic – only a few real vices such as the annoyingly complicated head unit and awkward fiddly heater controls spoil a good steer. You won’t be disappointed with the drive or its chassis – despite the long rear overhang; you can still throw it through the curves without it feeling tail happy.

The UK produced 1.6 diesel is a smashing little engine. Its powerful and torquey while still offering brilliant emissions and decent fuel economy. It's refinement is very good too!
The UK produced 1.6 diesel is a smashing little engine. Its powerful and torquey while still offering brilliant emissions and decent fuel economy. It’s refinement is very good too!

A revised and face lifted model is due fairly soon but for now we regard the Civic Tourer diesel to be a very decent vehicle for those who want space and an involving drive and a cracking company car option. It may seem a touch expensive on face value but a trip to the showroom might find them keen to make it affordable for you. Besides which, the dealers are generally famed for looking after customers too – which is refreshingly different compared to some other makes.

AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 8 / 10

The Humble Opinion:

It may not be the first choice for a zesty estate car but the Civic Tourer is beyond doubt worth considering. Smart suited looks with an accent on style and sportiness, the Civic has both practicality and fun in equal measures. The chassis is excellent,the equipment level is good and the overall build quality won’t make you feel short changed.

Its not cheap but it’s not a “cheap” car, it’s a car that’s packed full of driver and engineering technology and as for the British made 1.6 engine… its superb. The dark and sombre interior could do with some colour inside rather than its current 50 shades of grey and the brand image is one of walking sticks and readers digest – but forget that… just try one ad come back to me.

The Civic Tourer suffers from a distinct lack of marketting thrust which is a shame as a good number of people commented on the car during test. It’s a really good car in all departments – it entertains, carries loads of erm… stuff and behaves as flawless as a butler when operating in family car mode. Nicely styled enough to be different and worth recommending too.

Model Tested: Honda Civic Tourer SR 1.6 i-DTEC

Produced By: Honda Manufacturing UK Swindon

Price As Tested: £23.060

Engine: 1.6 16v turbo diesel
Power: 120Ps with 300Nm of torque
Performance: 0 – 60 in 10.1 seconds*
Emissions / VED: 103G/Km Band B
Economy: 74.33mpg* claimed – 61.3mpg on test
Transmission: 6 speed manual – no auto option in diesel form
Suspension: All round coils with torsion rear beam
Brakes: All round discs with ABS / EBD & lever type park brake
Cargo Space: 624 /1668 litres with seats up / down

*Manufacturers claimed figures

Warranty: 3 years / 90.000 miles

Equipment Highlights: Leather trim – Dual zone climate – Cruise control – DVD player – Sat Nav – Privacy glass to the rear – Power fold door mirrors – Multi media head unit with bluetooth connectivity – Active rear dampers.

THE HIGHS: UK & European developed – Lovely chassis – Refined – Great to drive – Well equipped – Amazingly spacious and practical – Good looking – Strong performance – Holds residual values well – Deep rooted build quality – Good fuel economy.

THE LOWS: Brand image a bit fuzzy – Dowdy colours of interior are at odds with the sharp exterior – Confusing and complicated audio unit that looks out of place and non standard – Rear door handles look and feel a little cheap – Bonnet and fuel filler awkwardly placed.

For more information on Honda CLICK HERE


3 thoughts on “Time Well Spent: Honda Civic Tourer SR 1.6 i-DTEC

    1. Wholeheartedly disagree!

      The R8 200 series (89 – 95) & the 99 – 2004 Rover 75 were good cars with an engineering prowess that could exceed some of the Germans & Japanese.

      Just note how many you see lumbering along!

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