Long-term Introduction: Honda Civic Tourer 1,8 Executive

To go camping, you need an SUV, right? Wrong. The Honda Civic Tourer (R368 900) joined our fleet not long after an automatic version featured in the anti-SUV group test published in the Nov ’14 issue of CAR and was keen to prove a point. I picked up a prototype Jurgens XT065 camping trailer, which will be on the market end of February, and headed to the South Coast for our annual family holiday.

Packing
Most of our camping gear, bedding and food provisions were swallowed by the trailer, but the Honda’s voluminous boot (416 dm3) made it easy to pack all the additional children’s paraphernalia needed during the week’s stay.

Towing experience
The Civic’s 1,8-litre petrol engine delivers only 104 kW and 174 N.m at a high 4 300 rev/min, therefore towing half-a-tonne of trailer and gear was always going to be challenging (unfortunately, no turbodiesel engine is currently offered for the Tourer range). Luckily, the precise gear-shift action Hondas are known for made it pleasant keeping the engine on the boil, and speeds on the national roads varied between 100 and 120 km/h depending on the severity of the gradients.

The average fuel consumption of 8,5 litres/100 km without the trailer took a hit, however, as the total fuel consumption for the holiday (950 km) came to 12,4 litres /100 km… At least the ride was comfortable and the stability at speed excellent. I found the infotainment system easy to use and the leather seats comfortable even after a few hours behind the wheel.

The advantage of towing a camping trailer to a caravan is that it is much smaller and lighter. Therefore it does not affect the tow vehicle as much in cross winds, you do not need extended mirrors to see past the sides and you can tow the XT065 with a less powerful vehicle. I had no problems parking the combination when visiting Kleinmond en route, which would have been more problematic with a caravan.

At the campsite
Once at the destination, the Howling Moon tent was easily erected as it folds out from the top of the trailer. All that is needed is to put up a few poles and secure with pegs. Our unit was fitted with an add-a-room option to provide accommodation for the kids. A (firm) double-bed mattress is provided for on the trailer and there are handy sleeves in the vertical section to store small items. The specific XT065 also had a sliding drawer fitted and a fridge/freezer that swivels out the back door. On the inside of the back door is a gas stove that connects to the gas bottle on the outside of the trailer.

It is wise to pack fold-up cabinets to keep the inside of the tent tidy and provide storage space for clothing, etc. (obviously not a problem in a caravan). The tent proved to be quite sturdy in windy conditions although the usual flapping associated with canvas is still present. I found the trailer to fill the gap perfectly between camping in only a tent and caravanning. The whole family enjoyed the experience and especially the kids had a ball. As the XT065 tested was still a prototype trailer, we did experience quite a few niggles, which Jurgens is aware of, and they will be fixed before the trailer enters final production.

Station wagon vs. SUV?
The Civic stood out in a campsite littered with SUVs and a few people remarked that it is a good-looking vehicle, especially in the station-wagon body style. The best part of not driving an SUV is that the handling is much better with decent grip and body control. Another is that it is not such a mission to steer in a crowded supermarket parking lot when the bread and milk run out. Okay, you cannot go to the bundus, but when last did you attempt to in your 4x2 SUV? For the record, the Civic Tourer had no problems covering 12 km of dirt road on the way to visit a farm in the Blombos area.

I am looking forward to spending a year with the Civic and experiencing the station-wagon lifestyle wherever the road takes us. For more information on the Jurgens XT065 (R24 450 without options), visit www.jurgenstrailers.co.za

After 2 months:
Mileage on arrival (km):
 148 km
Mileage now (km): 3 769 km
Fuel consumption (litres/100 km): 9,67 litres/100 km
We like: looks, space, folding seats, comfort
We don’t like: low torque output from the 1,8-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine

Trailer specifications:
Dimensions
Height inside (mm) - 633
Height overall (mm) - 1 281
Length inside (mm) - 1 750
Length overall (mm) - 2 863
Width inside (mm) - 1 154
With overall (mm) - 1 738
Ground clearance (mm) - 250

Specifications
Tare mass (kg) - 346
Gross vehicle mass (kg) - 650
Payload (kg) - 304
Box volume (lid included, litres) - 1 430
Nose cone volume (litres) - 270
Suspension - Rubber torsion
Wheel bearings - Taper roller
Track width (mm) - 1 531
Axle rating (kg) - 1 600
Suspension rating - 1 000
Wheels - 195 x 14

Costs
XT065 trailer (without options) - R24 450
Pull-out tray - R2 137
Rear fridge tray - R1 712
Stove assembly (including stove) - R1 854
Gas bottle holder - R381
Arctic fridge (80 litres) - R11 115
1,3-metre olive tent - R14 830