We’ve tested a few cars in the past, most notably the Honda CR-V that we drove around France, and really love doing it (basically, a lovely man appears on your doorstep with a brand new car and gives you the keys, leaving the car with you for a week – what’s not to love?). This time, Honda asked if we’d like to try their new Civic Tourer 1.8 i-VTEC SR manual and, being a big car loving family, we jumped at the chance…
First things first
I don’t know the first thing about cars, so I’m afraid if you’re into the technical stuff and want to know the sensible details, I should probably point you in the direction of the Honda website. I can, however, tell you how we got on with it as a family car, what we loved, and what we didn’t love.
We thought the Civic Tourer was a really good looking car. It’s incredibly spacious inside, with soft leather seats (heated in the front), and lots of sporty accents like 17″ alloy wheels and slick styling. Sam is now well over 6′ and had plenty of room without folding himself into a gangly pretzel just to get into the car (something we struggle with a bit in our VW Polo). We also think that sometimes estate cars can be a bit, well, ugly, but the Civic Tourer was sporty looking – especially in the lovely red with black accents.
The best bits
As with other Hondas we’ve tested, I love the help with parking that the car gives you. The windows give a good all-round view, the rear video parking screen makes it a doddle to reverse into spaces, and there are also front AND rear parking sensors that beep when you’re close to something (all very reassuring when you’re borrowing nearly £25 grand’s worth of car off someone for a week). It’s also got a ‘forward collision warning’. We have no idea what this is, but wonder if it shouts ‘WATCH OUT!’ at opportune moments.
The estate boot space is a whopping 1668 litres (whatever that means exactly – do they test it by sealing it up and filling it with water?) and it’s really easy to fold down the seats (they spring down with the touch of a button, but are a bit more hefty to pull back up again).
We had the perfect opportunity to test the Honda when Charlie bought a BMX bike on Ebay, then broke the news that it was in Essex. We set the SatNav to the correct address and the drive was pretty effortless (we encountered several miles of roadworks with average speed cameras, so the cruise control with speed limiter came in very handy).
I left the boys to work out how to load the bike on their own (what? It’s research) and they did a cracking job – the bike went into the car with no problems at all, and still left plenty of room in the back for Charlie on the way home:
The eco function that we liked so much on other Hondas still features in the Civic Tourer. It basically shows you by way of different coloured lights when you’re driving economically. You can turn it off if you don’t like it, but it’s a great reminder to ease off the gas occasionally and it’s not distracting.
We both enjoyed driving the Honda. When I first drove it, I did wonder if it was a bit under powered, but didn’t notice it again, even on the long motorway drive (although I still struggled with the six gears – presumably you get used to it). On our journey, we got a perfectly acceptable 44 mpg, which is EXACTLY what the quoted combined MPG says it should be, so it definitely does what it says on the tin. The voice activation is great fun (and a serious safety plus) and the sound system is cracking.
What we didn’t like
The BlueTooth connection drove me bonkers. I struggled with it when we test drove a Honda before, and I still don’t like it. To be fair, it could just be that I haven’t read the instructions properly and am doing something wrong, but for some reason it doesn’t like my phone and won’t connect to it. Charlie had more luck (they’re both Samsungs – go figure) and got his phone connected instantly (annoyingly, as we then had to listen to his music all the way to Essex). We also wondered whether the quite brittle feeling plastic interior would be resilient against scratches (particularly the zips of schoolbags and jackets when they get thrown around in the car).
We really enjoyed driving the Honda Civic Tourer for the week. It drew admiring glances from friends and neighbours, was ridiculously roomy, very comfortable to drive and had buckets of in-car storage for cups, sunglasses, tissues and general family rubbish. If you’re nervous of driving such a big car, the parking sensors and rear video give you confidence and we found that we were soon attempting to park in spaces that we’d avoid in our everyday car. Awesome.
The vehicle we tested was the Honda Civic Tourer 1.8 i-VTEC SR manual in Milano red, OTR £24,355.
Massive thanks to Honda (UK) for their generosity, patience and time. You can find more information on the Honda Civic Tourer here.