HONDA CIVIC TOURER: If it’s good enough for Gordon….

Civic Tourer 2THIS week we find ourselves at the wheel of a car not dissimilar to one locking bumpers with the rest in the British Touring Car Championship.

Only this is a touring car in the true sense of the genre, in that it’s what we older drivers used to term an estate car.

Some might view this as a triumph of optimism over mechanical fact – after all, cars should be quicker than estates – but we’re talking Honda here.

And proof of the wisdom in tackling the rest with a larger tourer is the fact it’s won a race, finished second in loads and Honda sit just a point adrift of the top of the constructors table as I write.

The Japanese have a long motorsport pedigree, and plenty of success in the BTCC, but for you and I on the road they serve up a slightly heavier and safer Civic Tourer which majors on style,technology and utility.

Take a look at the profile of the Tourer and you’ll notice more bodywork than most hanging out behind the rear axle. Obviously it houses a decent load area, but it also gives the car a dramatic sweep, and the effect that it’s angled forward and raring to go.

The road going version has the vital ingredient of an excellent chassis that translates to a ride with very little body roll and handling that is precision personified.

It’ll zip confidently round roundabouts and dispenses with country lanes without ever feeling over-stretched.

Civic Tourer-1Under the bonnet here is the 1.8 i-VTEC with its 142ps and seemingly modest 174Nm of torque. But of course the beauty of a VTEC is its ability to rev long and hard when required, so you’ll still get a sub 10 second romp to the other side of 60mph and it’ll do it in a smooth and efficient manner.

The specification blurb describes the bits you sit on as magic seats, which in the back fold down flat to the floor for an impressive load area, and they certainly conjure up (couldn’t resist that!) a lot of comfort and support. I was more than grateful for its supportive and comfortable drivers seat as I gingerly got back in after being unceremoniously T-boned by a rival kart at my son’s stag celebrations…..

Sitting ahead of you is a clear and easy to see digital speedo with lights either side that change in colour depending on the weight of your right foot. Green is good, deep blue not so.

The centre console sits high and sweeps back to the centre armrest, so there’s a real feeling of the front occupants having their own personal space.

It also comes with an innovative rear Active Damper System that has three settings – Dynamic, Normal and Comfort – and the option of two Driver Assistance Safety Packs, with features like an auto dimming rear view mirror, blind spot information, Collision Mitigation Braking System and Lane Departure Warning to pick out a few.

As a pointer, the £24,000 plus SR model gives you 17 inch alloys, navigation with a DVD player and video jacks (inside the centre armrest, along with other connections), a leather interior with heated front seats, a cargo net neatly stopwed in a full width rear cubby hole under the boot floor, and a useful rear view camera.

FASTFACTS: Honda Civic Tourer 1.8 i-VTEC SR; £24,355; four cylinder 1.8 i-VTEC, 142ps, 174Nm; six speed manual gearbox; 62mph 9.6 secs; Combined mpg 44.1; CO2 149g/km; will it fit the garage? 4535/2065/1480 (l/w/h).

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