It has been 12 years since Honda last offered a Civic estate, but with increased sales in this sector the Civic Tourer is a timely addition and rival to the likes of the Ford Focus Estate, Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer and Volkswagen Golf Estate.
Adrian Killham, who is large project leader for Civic Tourer, told Fleet News: “The timing was right for a return to this market and we expect a third of all Tourer sales to go to fleet customers.
"We’ve had to work hard to convince Honda in Japan to build this car, but we believe Europe, and the UK in particular, warrants this investment.”
Honda estimates it will sell about 1,500 Civic Tourers a year to company users, almost all with the 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine. This offers 99g/km CO2 emissions and 74.3mpg average fuel efficiency and starts at £21,320.
Several rivals can match the Tourer for efficiency and emissions, but the Civic has a few other tricks in its boot. Honda claims it offers the largest capacity in this class, at 624 litres.
However, 117 litres of this is in a separate compartment under the boot floor, so it’s not necessarily as usable as some of the competition’s.
The upside is it offers hidden storage that easily copes with a couple of small suitcases, so stashing laptops or other valuables is a cinch.
Folding the 60/40 split rear seats of the Tourer is also easy, thanks to Honda’s ‘magic seat’ design. You can tip the rear seats forward to create a long, flat floor or fold the bases up for a sizeable load space between the front and rear seats.
As the Tourer is 235mm longer than the Civic hatch, it also frees up space under the load floor to store the boot cover. It’s easy to pop into its dedicated space and with all of the seats folded down the maximum load space is 1,668 litres.
As with the hatch, the 1.8-litre petrol is a little rowdy when pressed, so the 120hp 1.6-litre turbodiesel is the best bet all round. It’s quiet, pulls keenly and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as the only option.
The diesel is the only credible choice for fleet users thanks to its 99g/km emissions, helped by its crisp six-speed manual gearbox.
The petrol model has a slightly sharper steering response, while Honda’s adaptive damper system is standard on the top two trim levels.
It can be set to comfort, normal or dynamic settings, although we found normal ideal in all conditions.
There are also two optional safety packs, costing £780 and £2,500.
The former is available on all Tourer models and has seven safety technologies including City-Brake Active System, forward collision warning and Cross Traffic Monitor.
The second pack is offered only on EX models to provide automatic cruise control and collision mitigation braking system.
In diesel form, the Tourer is quiet, competent and comfortable. While not as sharp to drive as the Ford Focus or VW Golf estates, it is an ideal long-distance machine that can carry plenty of cargo.
The petrol is a little more engaging to drive, but a noisy engine soon takes the shine off this slim advantage.
The Honda Civic Tourer has the credentials to be a strong contender in the small estate sector thanks to its load space and a versatility none of its rivals can better.
Low CO2 emissions and good fuel economy combine with a comfortable and easy-going drive to make it a very rounded compact estate.