A new adaptive damping system for the rear wheels only has been developed for the new Honda Civic Tourer and is introduced for the first time ever in a production car.

Development engineer Reiner Vollrath said the system was developed to compensate for the changes in body damping motion.

These changes are brought about by the car's longer rear overhang, the car's weight (when the 624-litre boot is loaded), plus the further possibility of towing or hanging bikes on the tailgate.

Honda's Pascal Papara said: "All this has the greatest effect over the rear wheels, which is why we have developed the system only for the rear.

"In addition, it is lighter than a four-corner adaptive damping system; there is less wiring, less complexity and, therefore, less cost."

Front dampers remain the same as the standard hatchback model although are slightly stiffer.

Papara, who is based at Honda's Frankfurt-based research and development centre, added: "This is a passive system based on body motion rather than payload.

"It is based on a number of input factors, such as acceleration, braking, steering angle, lateral movement, engine torque and rpm."

The system has three settings - comfort, normal and dynamic - which have been developed to improve stability and comfort under varying load and driving conditions.