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Road Tests

Honda Civic Tourer, motoring review: A space-age dashboard - and that's about as exciting as it gets


PRICE from £20,270
ENGINE Capacity 1.6-litre diesel
POWER OUTPUT (BHP @ RPM) 118 @ 6,500
TOP SPEED 121 0-60 MPH (seconds) 10.1

"If you love the inside as much as the outside," explains Honda's husky narrator in the new advert for the Civic Tourer, "then this is the car for you." I'm not sure what that means. Perhaps it's something to do with admiring carburettors. Honda also says that the Tourer (or estate, if you don't speak Car Salesman) is made from something loftily called "Earth Dream Technology".

Odd then, that actually driving the new Honda is a fairly pedestrian affair. I'm not saying it's a bad car. It's just that it doesn't live up to the breathless advert. It's certainly more refined than the firm's range of crossovers and SUVs, however, which are less economical, and drives just as well as the hatchback version. Inside, there's the same space-age cabin as the hatchback I drove last year, but a lower section devoted to climate controls and upper to infotainment seemed to confuse most of my passengers. Plus, there are too many poorly labelled buttons and a fiddly satnav system.

Dig deeper, though, and while the Civic Tourer might not be as exciting Honda's voice-over guy would have you believe, it does excel in several areas. Firstly, it gets a class-leading 624 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place, increasing to 1,116 when folded – and up to a cavernous 1,668 if you load it to the roof.

What really impresses is its economy – 60mpg is eminently achievable and the CO2 figure of 99g/km means you'll pay no vehicle excise duty (or congestion charge if in London). So that's the dreamy tech.

There's even dreamier tech if you opt for the Adaptive Damper System (fitted on my test car at a cost of £500), which checks the road surface every 10 milliseconds and adds as much or as little damping as required. This sort of control used to be the preserve of Mercedes and BMW, but is now available on more affordable vehicles. Even the Kia Soul – probably the ugliest car on sale right now – which I drove recently had a button for optional "sports" steering.

And just like the dampers in the Honda, I'm not sure most drivers will care or even notice. These aren't cars to be driven hard – they are cars to move stuff around.

And at £500 for the Honda damper system, I'm not sure the space-age dashboard really needs another button.