Tourer's exterior features some curvy lines and styling cues that distract from the car's functional purpose. From the B-pillars back, Tourer, with its elongated body, differs from the hatchback. When viewed head-on, the wedge-like front end could allow the Tourer to double-up as an X-Games motorcycle ramp. The flowing roofline and angular side-glass profile sweep the eye along to its neatly styled rear-end. Smart-looking light clusters complement the tailgate area. 

While there is a substantial estate car overhang - Tourer is 235mm longer than the hatchback - the design team has disguised this well. The hatchback has a generous boot to start with, but the Tourer adds even more capacity - up to 1,668 litres when you fold the rear seats flat. 

Unlike other estates, Civic Tourer lets you flip up the rear bench 'Magic Seats' to give a very handy and tall cargo area - perfect for the half dozen Yucca plants you were thinking of buying or for taking Lassie to the beach. Come to think of it, you can do both tasks simultaneously in the Tourer by putting the dog in the boot! 

Under the boot floor is another cargo space that can take 117 litres; when combined, the boot holds a massive 624 litres. If you opt for the essential spare wheel the under-floor space is used up - yes, a spare wheel is not standard in this family car! The Tourer and the Civic hatchback are in the same 'boat' regarding a 'spare', but this is something your dealer can sort out for a modest fee. 

Inside the cabin there is lots of space and good headroom, even with that sloping roofline. Civic's split-level dash area features controls and illumination straight from Star Trek. Our 'Executive'-specified car featured leather seats and a good sound system as highlights. The navigation system was a little quirky to use and less intuitive than most rivals' sat navs. Overall, the cabin is a nice place to be. 

On the open road Civic Tourer cruises effortlessly. Our 120hp, 1.6-litre i-DTEC test car literally sipped fuel and had a very impressive 300nm of torque. We had a full boot and drove over 900 kilometres on a variety of roads, including motorway. With a light foot and the 'Econ' button pressed (most of the time), we averaged over 60mpg. Honda says an average of over 3.8l/100km (74mpg) is possible. 

Honda's 1.6 diesel is a brilliant unit. If you want an automatic gearbox or petrol power (manual or auto) your choice is limited to the 1.8-litre i-VTEC engine (142hp/174nm). Steering is sharp and responsive with quick gearing. This is great about town and when driving enthusiastically but less so on the motorway, especially if it is windy, as you'll find the car a little twitchy. 

Our top-spec test car came with ADS (Adaptive Damper System). A small button in front of the gear lever allows you to select from three suspension settings: Normal, Comfort or Dynamic. A small letter, e.g. 'C', displays on the dash to show you the chosen selection.

Civic Tourer is an impressive family car. Prices start at €25,995 and rise to over €32,000. 

Michael Sheridan