Over the last 15 years or so, cars have been getting more and more economical. But the Honda Civic1.6 i-DTEC moves economy onto a whole new level writes Ian Strachan. I’ve just been testing the Tourer version of the latest Civic, and even with the extra space of a small estate car, there’s very little penalty in terms of fuel consumption and emissions
The car is powered by Honda’s new British-built 1.6 lightweight diesel engine – the first developed under the company’s Earth Dreams environmental technology programme. And the results are staggering.
In mixed driving, this Civic Tourer – even in top-of-the-range EX Plus spec –still delivers an astonishing 72.4 miles to the gallon. It can do well over 800 miles on a single tank of petrol. It’s also an emissions leader, putting out just 103 g/km of CO2. And don’t think because it’s green it must be sluggish. This Civic delivers 120 bhp and is no slower off the mark than its less green competitors, with a 0-60 mph time of around 10 seconds. All of this adds to the virtues that the Honda Civic has been delivering for some time.
The Civic – in whatever guise – is quite simply a very good car and the Tourer adds practicality to the package. Attractive to look at, with good specification and solid build quality the Civic has been a big seller for many years – and deservedly so.
The Civic’s distinctive wedge shape is enhanced with the beautifully sculpted Tourer lines. Chunky 17 inch alloy wheels in black and silver further enhance the car’s side-on profile. In the Tourer you don’t get the horizontally-split rear screen of the saloon, which gives you much better rear visibility.
The Tourer deep and practical load-space – 624 litres with the rear setas up and an astonishing 1,668 with the seats folded. Honda has done well not to compromise on the basics of practicality here. In addition there’s a large storage area beneath the load space floor.
The inside of the Civic is good too, with all effort concentrated on driver and passenger comfort and convenience. Supportive, leather-trimmed seats with powered lumbar and side supports (standard in the EX Plus specification level) hug you in a cockpit which you can tell was designed primarily with the driver in mind, with dials and controls easy to see and reach. A clear digital speed display is well-placed and easy to read.
The Civic is a real pleasure to drive. Linked to a slick, short-travel six speed manual gearbox the engine is quiet and unruffled throughout. It never sounds or feels under pressure and delivers power exactly when you want it. Ride and handling are exceptional, with crisp and positive steering response and nicely damped suspension to give a smooth ride. An adaptive damper system allows you to shift between Dynamic, Normal and Comfort modes. The Honda’s grip on the road is never uncertain, even when cornering at speed.
Equipment levels are good, with keyless entry and start, all-round airbags, dual zone climate control, satellite navigation, electric windows and mirrors, a DAB radio and CD player with MP3 connections, ambient lighting in the doors, front fog lights, all-round parking sensors with rear view camera, automatic wipers and headlights, automatic stop/start and cruise control all standard on the EX Plus.
You also get steering wheel mounted controls, split rear seat, and heated front seats..
This is an easy car to like – particularly with its class-leading environmental credentials and stylish practicality – and I was sorry to see it go. The whole thing comes at a reasonable £27,460 on the road.