I never fell for the Honda Civic Tourer and I felt bad about that, like I’d fostered a dog and could see how hard it was trying but in the end it was still a spaniel and the love never came. This is the car you would drive if you were one of only four taxi drivers in a seaside town; it doesn’t look fancy and that’s fine, because if people want glitz, they can damn well move to Canterbury.
The only people it will overtake on dual carriageways are the three other taxis, but that’s fine, too; if people want to race, they can buy their own car. Passengers get stuff usually reserved for the driver, though I have to say I had several passengers and nobody thanked me for the lumbar support.
Whatever happens, it will start: I can’t think of many new cars you couldn’t say that about, except for an Audi I met that reacted badly to engaging drive and hitting the start button in the wrong order. But the reliability of a Civic is imprinted in its DNA and even fancy, extraneous touches such as interior blue ambient lighting can’t shake your confidence.
However, everything felt like an imposition: I was constantly dropping down a gear, as it complained about an incline or wheezed around a corner. The steering was unsettling: light but not grippy, a little unresponsive on a motorway, easily thrown off course, like a dog with good recall except near a picnic. I’m starting to think it’s not my fault I don’t love the dog.
But I’m missing – perhaps on some level deliberately – the main point, which is that without being a giant on the road, it is a giant of the boot, the footwell, the headroom, all those spaces that seem pointlessly untenanted to the hot hatch designer, but in the world of the saloon are admired like big skies and great-hall architecture. Also they are good if you want to leave the car with circulation in your extremities. I can’t fault the boot, into which inexpertly tessellated, hastily shoved items disappeared like snooker balls into a hole.
I don’t have a bad word to say about the interior, which you could imagine turning into a kind of live-work space, with its hands-free telephone and central display, large enough that you could almost imagine it a telly. I can picture the life for which this would be the best possible car. But I can also imagine thinking, what went wrong with my life, that I constantly need to take large things from one place to another?
Honda Civic Tourer: in numbers
Top speed 130mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds
Combined fuel consumption 72.4mpg
CO2 emissions 103g/km
Eco rating 8/10
Cool rating 4/10