By on March 4, 2013

Although wagons get their fair share of ribbing on TTAC (mostly to poke fun at the absurd declarations of arm chair product planners), the Honda Civic is yet another product that we won’t get here due to the business case not making sense. What makes it worse is that unlike, say, the Mazda6 wagon, the compact segment already has a few hatchback/wagon entrants available in North America.

The Civic Tourer, as it’s known, will go up against the upcoming VW Golf Wagon (sold here as the Jetta SportWagen) and the Ford Focus Estate (not sold here). The European Civic shares a name with the North American version and little else. And yes, it will have a diesel engine and a manual gearbox available.

Why lampoon the Mazda6 wagon and praise the Civic wagon? Surely, we must be biased. After all, that’s the default answer for any unfavorable analysis at TTAC. But it’s important to note that not all wagons, and their business cases, are created equal. The Mazda6 wagon is produced in Japan by Mazda, and an unfavorable exchange rate, capacity constraints and the prohibitive cost of federalization make the business case for the wagon a non-starter.

So what about the Civic? Why can’t Honda do it if Hyundai can import the European i30 as the Elantra GT? For one thing, the Elantra GT is built in the Czech Republic, where labor costs are far lower than Japan and the UK, where the Civic Tourer is likely to be built. The i30 was also designed to be sold globally from the get-go. The Civic, unfortunately, has been thoroughly localized, meaning this car has been designed with the European market in mind, and it’s unlikely to leave any time soon.  Once the most well known compact hatchback, Honda hasn’t fielded a two box Civic in years, ceding the market to Hyundai, Ford, Toyota and just about everyone else. What a shame. This Tourer is so much more attractive than the rest of Honda’s small car lineup.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

30 Comments on “Honda Civic Tourer: More Forbidden Fruit To Torture Ourselves With...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    As much as I dislike Honda for various reasons. I really hate the Civic. Its just plan ugly, yet most of you guys think it looks great. Any as much as I hate to admit it. I really like the look of this car. If Honda ever wanted me to consider them, this would be it. Alas, my hate lives on.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I’m not that keen on the looks of this car, but it’s better than the Crosstour.

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    It looks nice but I can’t tell how big it is. There is no sense of scale; it honestly looks like a minivan to me but I know it should be smaller.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Honda isn’t stupid: this wouldn’t sell in North America. The Fit is more practical and cheaper and would get the bottom half of the market, the CR/V the top.

    You may as well ask European car buyers why Honda doesn’t sell the American Accord, Pilot or Odyssey. The answer is the same: about as many people would line up for the Civic hatch here as would for the Oddy over there.

    Personally, I think the Fit has a lot to do with this. If the Civic were the bottom rung in Honda’s ladder and/or the Fit wasn’t such a Tardis, there would be a case for this car. As a Fit owner, I couldn’t make the case for stepping up to a bigger car with less useful interior room and worse city mileage. This isn’t like the Fiesta, which has amputee-grade rear seating and no trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      I must admit that’s a bulls-eye. I had a 91 Civic DX (for those just being born around that time, that meant 4 (count ‘em, FOUR) speeds, a clutch, no factory radio, and manual locks. The armrest cost extra and had to be drilled into the console above the E-brake. However, my father and I drove the wheels off of it for 130k+ miles. The only thing I really didn’t like was its tendency to hydroplane like a hockey-puck in pretty much any amount of moisture due to lightness and tiny tires. But it cost nothing, ate nothing, never broke, and in bright red it was even good looking. Give it some JDM wheels and it would still look good (albeit rusty). But, if you took a Civic hatch of that era, gave it a similar footprint, more doors, a little more interior room, maybe some nifty wheels…you’d have a Fit. Hehe. Bad pun.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      The Euro Civic also has those “Magic Seats.” POOF goes your argument.

  • avatar
    wagic

    The last true Civic Wagon sold in the states was in ’91. The next was in ’97, albeit named the CR-V. Which, through 4 generations, you could still argue to be, essentially, a civic wagon. However, the Fit is very similar in dimension to the ’88-’91 ee wagons. Regardless, with the CR-V and Fit, bringing this euro model civic wagon to the states would be redundant.

    Now, if I could just get the TSX sport wagon in Honda trim…

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Mercedes-Benz couldn’t sell that thing that looked like this. Chrysler couldn’t sell that thing that looked like this. GM gave up on the Dustbuster minivan long ago. If “vox populi est vox dei,” then the gods have spoken and well, thank god for that. This looks like the spawn of a right whale and a minivan.

  • avatar
    redav

    It sure would be nice if car designers didn’t hate windows so much.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      That’s no problem. The hate for windows is compensated with a love of instrument clusters and displays in this case, this car has two or three instrument clusters. The interior is truly horrid with something going on EVERYWHERE.
      Google “european honda civic interior” and feast you eyes .

  • avatar
    missinginvlissingen

    It seems to have a similar size & shape to the Toyota Matrix, if Toyota ever bothered to redesign that car. And yet even without meaningful updates, Toyota has sold a whole bunch of Matrixes.

    Most of the time I accept that people running car companies can make better decisions than us armchair product planners. But the Matrix and the Ford Focus wagon (when it was offered) haven’t exactly been sales flops. The only logical explanation I can think of is that Honda fears an actual Civic wagon would mostly cannibalize CRV sales, rather than capture other brands’ customers.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    If the Insight looked more like this than the weird armadillo-on-stilts look it has, they would sell like crazy. And yes, this would sell in the US as a Civic too, at least as well as the godawful ugly Crosstour does.

  • avatar
    Marko

    I had heard of the Elantra GT being built in the Czech Republic, but at the auto show, I looked in the door jamb of one and saw “Made in Korea”.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The obvious solution is to ship it over as an Acura.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Over here, I see this more as a Mazda5 competitor, though not directly. The Fit Shuttle would be a more interesting match for the Elantra GT crowd, though again, not directly.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This thing makes the Crosstour look like an E-type. There is some sort of psychosis that makes some people want anything that they can’t have. This car could be the litmus test for its presence.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    The Civic hasn’t been a Civic since 2004. The real Civic is the Fit.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I have heard this before but I am not buying it. Sure the Fit is about the same size as the Civic used to be. But it is only available in one body style, and it isn’t generally regarded as an attractive style. Since the early 80s the Civic has been a well-rounded lineup, had multiple engine options and was a car right-sized for its time. It still is, whether we like it or not, the general population and average car buyer wants a car bigger than a Fit and the Civic is a good size for a compact car.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        Everyone I know thinks the Fit is adorable. The hatchback body style seems to Fit well with this type of car. How often do you see Toyota Yaris or Ford Fiesta sedans?

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          If everyone you know thinks that then you must not know many people or you are not from the US. I am a hatchback fan, I drive a GTI, and I get pissed off when manufacturers do not bring the hatchback version of a car to the US. But I also realize that the hatchback design is not all that popular here. Sure it is catching on more and more, but definitely not to the average buyers taste. And yes, I agree the hatchback body style is well suited to this size of a car. But the Fit is not a regular hatch like the others you mention, it is a continuation of the awkward “tall wagon” design… the original Fit was very awkward, the new one is less so, but still not a looker. If it was, then Honda wouldn’t sell so many Civics.

          I get it though, the Fit is a good design that appeases most of the classic Civic faithful and allows Honda to move the Civic up a size class. But that doesn’t make it “the real Civic”.

  • avatar
    darex

    There’s room enough in our market for Honda to make an upscale hatch, which the Fit is not.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Forbidden fruit? I think not!

    More like a gift from above, that this ugly thing doesn’t create such an eyesore here!

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    This is far more attractive than the Beluga Whale like Crosstour. A new Civic wagon would fill a niche for those not interested in CUV’s or CRV’s. I could see a shorter 3 dr hot hatch version of this as well. The styling seems to work.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States