Monday, 23 July 2012

REVIEW - Honda Accord EX Tourer

I remember when the last Honda Accord was launched, with the 'Cog' commercial (with everything flowing together), how much I liked that car. So it was with no hesitation that I said yes to the opportunity to test the newest instalment. It is a common-held view that Honda make great cars, and I wanted to see just how great they could be. Would the top spec model provide the luxury to steer people away from the Germans? Read on to see what I thought...

Looks - 9/10

The old Honda Accord was a nice looking car, as showcased by the 'cog' commercial. The new one blows that one out of the water in terms of styling. There is a slight resemblance in the front end styling, but at the back things are completely different. There are fewer straight edges on the new car and it makes the estate car desirable. The EX model gets 17" alloys and bits of chrome which looks effective; as does the privacy glass and roof rails. The rear-end with its sloping tailgate and detachable towbar is easy on the eye too.

On the inside the cabin is well laid out and functional. The seats are incredibly comfortable and made of high-quality leather. The only place I could fault my test car was on the interior trim. This was a 'dark wood' effect trim, and the car would have much more suited an aluminium or titanium effect trim. This being the luxury model, I can understand why the wood effect was used, and it does look better than a lighter wood effect would. Other parts of the dashboard, such as the steering wheel, do benefit from titanium effect trims, and this is very effective. The dials look smart and are clear to read. The satnav is in a perfect position, and the controls are laid out in a logical fashion. The Accord is a nice car to look at both inside and out.

Handling/Performance -  8/10

The engine powering my test car was the 2.2-litre diesel unit which produces 150 PS and 350Nm of torque. This is attached to a 5-speed automatic gearbox and will do 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds and go on to a top speed of 126mph. The engine itself is brilliant, whilst the gearbox leaves something to be desired. I would have preferred a 6-speed gearbox and I think this would have used the engines torque much more effectively. This being said, the existing setup does work, and the engine feels smooth and powerful, with the gear changes barely noticeable.

On the road the Accord doesn't feel like a large estate car. I think it was designed with driver-focus in mind, because it really is superb to drive. The steering is well weighted and responsive, and there is plenty of power to get you between the corners. The seats are supportive and this car is great fun on a country road. On a long drive the Accord comes into its own; showcasing itself as a great long-distance cruiser. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Assistance System (LKAS) also add an element of relaxation to any drive.

Economy -7/10

The Accord is a hit and miss when it comes to economy. It 'hits' when it comes to fuel consumption, as it will do 44.1mpg on a combined cycle. This is not bad at all considering it's an automatic; something which usually punishes consumption significantly. Then we get to the 'miss' part. Due to the large size of the engine at 2.2-litres and some other unknown reason the emissions are 167g/km CO2. This puts the Accord in band H and road tax at £165 (£275 first year). Granted, £165 isn't the most expensive car ever produced. But in the world where big saloon cars are falling in band B and C, the Accord falls down slightly.

Practicality - 10/10

As I expected from a large estate car, there were absolutely no issues whatsoever with practicality. The boot itself is large, 395 litres to be precise. However there are hidden compartments all over the place, where towbar, bags, laptops etc can all be placed completely out of view. There is a tonneau cover and dog guard as standard fit, and these can be easily operated or removed completely to suit any given situation. The electrically-operated tailgate is also a useful feature (and a great gadget too) and can be operated manually as well. The reversing camera and ACC/LKAS also help when cruising.

Inside the cabin is vast for all passengers. The front seats are large and comfortable, and there is plenty of legroom. The rear-seat legroom does come at the small cost of a little bit of boot space, but the upside is that three adults could sit comfortably in the back of the Accord. This isn't even dependant on the front passengers sitting on the dashboard; I sit quite far back and there were no problems fitting behind me.

Day-to-day the car is very easy to live with. Being solidly built it can cope with kids opening and slamming doors and dogs jumping in and out of the boot. The towbar offers an additional level of practicality and is removable which is handy as it looks better when not in use.

Fun - 8/10

There is a view that Honda's are built for the older generation and that they can't appeal to a younger audience, and I can gladly report that this is in no way the case. The level of gadgetry is impressive and there is something for everyone. From the cooled glovebox to keep the kids' drinks cold and the iPod connectivity to keep the cabin filled with your favourite music, to the satnav system and electric/heated seats to ensure the driver can stay relaxed, the Accord has it all. This then is a great car for the whole family. You can load it up with children, dogs and food and head out for the day, knowing that the Accord will get you there safely and reliably.

Concluding Remarks

The Honda Accord is a great car. It looks great, drives great and is great to live with. Furthermore, the whole car feels solidly built and sturdy; like it won't fall to pieces. As an overall car to own the Accord would make a great one, especially if you need to tow anything or carry things in the boot. Forget the idea that Honda's are for old people, because that's definitely not the case; at only 21 I was able to appreciate the Accord. What's more, there are gadgets in the Accord far too complex for it to be aimed at the older generation. The price of the Accord EX Tourer I tested is £30,400 and you get a lot of car for your money.

Total Score - 42/50

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