This is the new Honda Civic Tourer the all-new estate version of the five-door hatchback, and a rival to the estate models of the Ford Focus, Skoda Octavia and VW Golf.
The big news about the Civic Tourer is the space and practicality inside. Honda has carried over the popular 'magic seats from the hatchback which allow you to fold up the rear seat bases to carry tall items that wouldnt otherwise fit but its also managed to expand the boot space to a whopping 624 litres.
With the rear seats up, this doesnt just beat the Focus and Golf estates, but also the class-leading Octavia Estate (which has 610 litres). The opening is wide and square, and the boot lip is just 565mm above the ground, making loading even easier for comparison, the Golfs is 630mm and the Octavias is 631mm.
Unlike in some rivals, theres no lever in the boot to fold the rear seats flat automatically you need to pull a handle on top of them from inside the cabin. Once theyre down though, the load floor is completely flat and the 1668 litres of space beats most of the competition.
However, the Octavia Estate is bigger with the rear seats down, plus it has the option of a folding front seat (110), which allows much longer items to be carried. The Golf Estates maximum capacity doesnt beat the Civic, but it does offer the same front seat option as the Skoda for the same price.
The Civic Tourers rear overhang is 235mm longer than the hatchbacks, to accommodate the vast boot. Height and width are identical, although the slightly raised roofline means theres more headroom in the back for passengers.
We sat in the car during a preview event, and while the difference is noticeable, passenger headroom is still tight taller adults in the back will have their heads brushing against the ceiling. That said, just like in the hatchback, there is at least decent legroom.
The rear light treatment is unique to the Tourer the red bar joining the lights is considerably lower than on the hatchback, so rear visibility is not woeful. Rather than a spoiler that bisects the view behind, drivers will now see an uninterrupted oval shaped aperture. The rising waistline means all-round visibility is still compromised, but it is at least a significant improvement.
Pricier versions of the Civic Tourer will be available with an Adaptive Damper System for the rear wheels. The system is designed to improve stability and comfort across the variety of load and towing conditions that the Tourer will be exposed to.
The set-up has three settings Comfort, Normal and Dynamic and the middle mode is slightly softer than the conventional dampers on the lower spec Tourer models. The adaptive system continuously monitors driving style and road conditions, and will temporarily firm up the ride if, for example, the car is driven fast through tight corners while in Comfort mode.
The Civic Tourer comes with either the 1.6 diesel or the 1.8 petrol engine from the hatchback the latter is available with a manual or automatic gearbox, while the diesel is manual only. Performance and economy figures will be announced in September, but Honda has already confirmed that the diesel wont match the headline-grabbing 78.5mpg and 94g/km CO2 emissions it achieves in the hatchback model.
Trim levels will match that of the five-door car, so alloy wheels, climate control and a USB socket will be standard. The Civic Tourer will also be available with a two-position luggage net to keep larger items from flying forwards. The cabin has been smartened up slightly, with silver accents around the dials and gloss black trim on the steering wheel across all models.
To ensure that all the models in the range are as practical as possible, Honda wont offer the top spec sound system with a subwoofer for the Civic Tourer the company say it takes up too much space in the boot, so it has instead increased the speaker count in the cabin and improved sound quality to compensate.
The new Honda Civic Tourer will have its official debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September. An expected premium of 900 over the hatchback means that the entry point should be around 19,250 for the 1.8 petrol SE when it goes on sale in early 2014.