Monday, 10 February 2014

COLUMN - February 2014

Here is my second column of the year, from The Local Herald. I aim to continue with the reviews that featured last year, so kicked off with a pair of executive saloons. First up is the Honda Accord, and this was a range-topping Type-S diesel. Also featured is the Volvo S60, which was featured in SE Nav spec and showcased some of the latest technology available today. Keep an eye out in future months, as there are lots more reviews coming!

This may seem a little delayed, but as this is the first column of the year I hope the festive season was enjoyable, and I hope you’re still sticking to those resolutions. I’m still working on mine, so I’ll keep you posted on that one. I thought I’d kick off 2014 as I hope to continue it; with a couple of reviews. This month I have two executive saloons; ideal for any business commuter.

I shall start with the Honda Accord. And the one I have for you here is the range-topping Type-S model. This means you get the aero pack, 18” wheels, and a sportier interior. I like the way the Accord looks; it isn’t extravagant or stand-outish, but take a closer look and the angular lines are impressive.

It has a 2.2-litre diesel engine that produces 180PS and 380Nm of torque. This goes to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox. The Accord can certainly shift; 0-62mph is dealt with in 8.8 seconds, and the top speed is 137mph. The in-gear acceleration is more important, and this is where the Accord’s power lies. You can expect 50.4mpg on a combined cycle, and CO2 emissions are 147g/km which means road tax is £140 (same first year).

But the best bit of the Accord is how it handles. The steering is perfectly weighted, turn in sharp and you can tell what the front wheels are doing. The gearbox is a short-throw, precise motion. The suspension may be overly firm on the motorway, but on a country road it keeps the car balanced and steady, giving you confidence through the bends.

Prices for the Type-S start at £30,930 and metallic paint will add £500 to that. But with the reliability Honda’s have become renowned for, you can keep it for as long as you need.

An alternative to the Honda is the Volvo S60. 2014 sees a new model introduced, with some cosmetic, engine and equipment upgrades to boast. The model I tested is a similar price to the Accord at £28,145 but has an expensive options list. I would recommend the driver support pack at £1,900 and the winter pack at £375, bringing the total to £30,420.

The 2.0-litre, D3 diesel engine produces 136PS but more importantly 350Nm of torque. Through the 6-speed manual box you can expect 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds and a top speed of 127mph. The S60 feels plenty powerful and especially if you use that torque. This engine is still the 5-cylinder, and is unbelievably smooth and refined. Expect a more economical 4-cylinder engine to be out later this year.

The ride is extremely comfortable, helped by the sculpted seats (which are heated with the winter pack) and the steering is responsive and nicely weighted. Grip levels are good, but this car is meant more as a motorway cruiser. My only gripe is that there was nowhere to put my left foot which seemed like an oversight given the S60’s strengths.

And economy is one of the biggest strengths. Combined fuel consumption is 65.7mph and CO2 emissions of 114g/km mean road tax of £30 (free first year). Better yet, the aforementioned 4-cylinder engine should come in at sub-100g/km meaning free road tax each year. The S60 is barely ticking over at 70mph.

With the driver support pack you get blind spot information system, adaptive cruise control, city safety, parking sensors, collision warning and lane departure warning. In particular the adaptive cruise control is brilliant, as is the blind spot system, which is why I recommend the support pack.

As always see the Reviews page for full reviews.

Dan

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