From £22,310
Good motorway manners, but lacking everyday performance

Our Verdict

Honda Accord
Latest Accord is the eighth version in 32 years

The Honda Accord has a comfortable interior, but it's a forgettable drive with a fiddly dash

  • First Drive

    Honda Accord Type S

    Still a competent and likeable package in isolation, but too expensive for a car that’s still a way off class leading
  • First Drive

    Honda Accord Type S

    Moderately impressive new diesel is still trumped by its rivals

What is it?

Most attention has been focussed on the diesel-powered versions of the Accord, but Honda continues to offer two petrol version.

Of these, it’s the less powerful 2.0-litre version that makes the best case for itself. It’s nearly two grand cheaper than its diesel sister spec-for-spec, offering the cheapest way to get into the new Accord.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine offers 154bhp, which is good compared to rivals, although the torque peak of 142lb ft arrives at a revvy 4100rpm. Honda claims that the Accord can hit 62mph from rest in 9.3 seconds, although the combined fuel economy of 39.2mpg is 11mpg adrift of the figure claimed for the i-DTEC diesel version.

What’s it like?

On first impressions the Accord 2.0-litre feels surprisingly sluggish. The effortless mid-range urge of modern turbodiesels that we're used to means that a revvy petrol engine like this one feels overwhelmed when asked to lug a large family car.

Performance has to be extracted from the Accord by revving it surprisingly hard, and even shallow motorway gradients are enough to defeat this car’s tall sixth gear.

Fortunately the six-speed manual gearbox is a peach, with a beautifully tactile gearshift action. Changing between ratios to keep the engine on the boil is a pleasure, rather than a chore.

Despite sitting less than halfway up the Accord spec hierarchy, the ES GT suffers from the same button-strewn dashboard as its more expensive siblings, to the extent that it’s often hard to track down the right control.

Despite Honda’s claims of sharpened driving dynamics, the Accord is happiest on the motorway, where its suspension delivers a impressively smooth high-speed ride and refinement levels are excellent. Body control on rougher road surfaces is less convincing, with the Accord’s ride quality taking on a jagged edge. The electric power steering is impressively accurate, but it lacks feedback or the ability to communicate any involvement to the driver.

So, should I buy one?

The Accord ES GT’s generous standard kit offsets some of its high price, but it doesn’t feel any more special than a Mondeo or Passat. The 2.0-litre petrol engine will likely be a minority taste, and although it offers a big cost saving over the diesel version, it’s lack of everyday performance makes it hard to recommend.

Mike Duff

Join the debate

Comments
9

25 July 2008

You do realise that there are people that like to rev their cars and can't stand the lack of top end grunt and verve of diesels, don't you? Not to mention that ultimately the petrol car is faster if driven properly...

27 July 2008

Thank you realzeus !

I have heard the comments before about lack of torque in Hondas and it always surpises me as the transmissions are so slick and engines keen to rev smoothly.

I did replace my 2.4 Accord 4 door with a 2.2 diesel Accord Tourer for reasons of space, economy and emissions plus the future tax costs. I have 3 comments to make

- I change gears more often in the diesel as there isnt much power below 2000 rpm and you have to keep between this and 4500 rpm. And it really doesnt like 6th gear to be used below 60 mph.

- The new 2.0 does nearly 40mpg is cheaper to buy and the fuel cost less at present

- I do miss my 7000 rpm redline (not to mention 8000 on my old Civic VTi)

So Honda petrol engines need revving but its no hardship. The Civic 1.8 engine has similar fuel economy and emissions to Volkswagens much praised 1.4 twincharger yet it is more powerful and larger so doesnt need a turbo and a supercharger !

-

27 July 2008

My pleasure cdtiman. :)

What really frustrates me is that a portion of the motoring press favours serene and lazy motoring by mentioning how well diesels pull at low revs and how gutless a normally aspirated petrol engine feels at those same revs. Do they really think that their readers are all cabbies? Most of us are petrolheads, thus we read these specialised magazines and websites. Petrolheads like driving hard, yet they seem to think that 30-50mph in gear acceleration in 5th is all we care about. Personally, I would buy a diesel company car only for fuel economy reasons but I would never want it as my private car. Heck, I don't even like lazy petrol cars that have more torque than power..

27 July 2008

This is the reason why I am really not a huge fan of diesels. The actual band of the rev range that is usable is just too small.

Add to this that most decent powerful petrol engines sound fabulous when being revved as well.

27 July 2008

At my last car service I had a Civic diesel courtesy car and enjoyed it quite a lot, its pace was effortless and very swift at that, refinement was pretty good too.

This time around they loaned me a Civic 1.8 vtec it was horrible, it felt frighteningly gutless below 4000, overtaking on the motorway took months. Above 4000 it started to move but howled like a cat with its tail in a vice and I was so embarrassed, I felt like some yobbo rowdying up the neighbourhood and I was just trying to hustle along a little swiftly. I used to have fast petrol turbo's in the past but they were much more grown up than this.

30 July 2008

I drove the 2.0 petrol and the 2.2 diesel at a Honda launch party thing in Delamere Forest, Cheshire - they invited my dad and whoever he wanted to bring as he has a current shape 2.2 diesel Civic. Weren't many other Hondas in the car park though.

I wrote up my thoughts and posted them on a forum I regularly visit and did indeed find the 2.0 petrol to be a disappointing performer. Yes, it sounds nicer than the diesel and is certainly more fun to extract performance out of, but you do a lot more extracting in the petrol. The diesel just bumbles along in a turbo-boosted surge.

Anyway, here's what I thought at the time:

Drove Honda's new Accord on Saturday, a 2.0 petrol and a 2.2 diesel (i-DTEC) back to back. A fine car, no doubt - well built with good engines - but as an ownership prospect I'm not so sure. The main issue is price - Honda have essentially added £2000 to the list price compared to the previous model and you'll have a hard time finding where the extra cash is in the car.

Plastics wise you have the usual soft-touch stuff on the dash, which feels a lot like recycled tyres, and the centre console houses dozens of buttons for climate and stereo controls. Compared to the more edgily designed Civic's dash it seems rather fussy, though of course it's nothing that can't be learnt with practice.

I drove the 2.0 petrol first and followed my dad in the diesel. What's immediately clear is the pulling power of the diesel - dad vanished down the road almost straight away without trying. However, the petrol does offer a few perks being cheaper to buy and much nicer on the ears - superbly refined at low revs and with a muted, but still very present (and clasically VTEC) induction noise at the top of the rev range. Redlines just under 7000 revs and the limiter kicks in just above.

It's just as well the gearbox is sweet as a nut and can swap ratios as fast as you dare because in a straight line the weight of the car is noticeable. Lighter, less equipment laden Accord 2.0s of old were deceptively fast back in the day but the same cannot be said of the new model. It is as refined as cars come, though, with minimal engine noise at low revs (especially in sixth) and a fairly composed ride quality - though traces of the current Civic's harshness are evident. The steering rack is nice and fast, but not to the degree of darting across the road, and the car responds well to any driving style. Trouble is, with all that weight and kit, MPG suffers hard - the on board computer said 25 MPG at the end of my run.

That is largely, of course, down to the fact I was trying to keep up with the diesel, you could perhaps manage 35, maybe 40MPG on a motorway run. Time to swap.

I'm already very familiar with this engine as a similar unit can be found in the Civic my dad currently owns. It's clean (if diesels can be clean, it certainly comes up with the goods in the CO2 department), torquey, pretty much the best diesel engine around at the moment in the not-quite premium saloon car category. In the Accord, it just works. You definitely know it's a diesel from the sound it makes but the benefit is a staggering blend of performance and economy - you'll struggle to do less than 40 MPG with mixed driving. It pulls well from 1500 revs and by 2000 the turbo really wakes up and catapults you down the road. It will rev well over 4000 rpm but in practice this seems a waste of time, changing up earlier provides equally swift and less noisy progress. Like the petrol, the gearbox is a gem and has a much more satisfying, less artificial action than the Civic.

Both cars handle as you'd expect a front-driver to and they handle well, especially when you consider the ride quality. You do notice the extra weight of the diesel engine up front but this does not necessarily cost time, you simply adjust your driving to suit.

On the whole then a good car, but the price is a real sticking point for me. If you must have a new Accord then fair enough, but if you're after a competent saloon car get the previous model (or a Mondeo), it still looks pretty sharp and is massively cheaper, especially when you take into account end-of-the-line discounts.

30 July 2008

[quote REALZEUS]You do realise that there are people that like to rev their cars and can't stand the lack of top end grunt and verve of diesels, don't you? Not to mention that ultimately the petrol car is faster if driven properly...[/quote]

I feel the same way about the BMW 120i vs the 120d. The 120d has fantastic performance, but the 120i is also strong and very, very different in the way it delivers its power. If company car tax wasn't an issue, I would have seriously consider the 120i over the diesel. Its so smooth, sounds good, loves to rev and even works well as an auto.

31 July 2008

Now, I'm seriously considering the 2.0 petrol but alll the noise about the diesel being better does make me think twice.

It's a company car so the difference in MPG doesn't bother me and after a test drive I'm fairly impressed.

If I went for the diesel I couldn't afford satnav which I really want, especially as it adds a great stereo system and cool rear camera.

Decisions, decisions....

Been trying to find more owner feedback, but other than this not a lot around..

31 July 2008

when i last changed car i went from an 02 laguna 120 dci to a new 05 accord 2.0 sport. i am a private buyer, by the way, so taxation rules - which drive the current popularity of diesels - weren't an issue. being an ex van driver i was very biased towards diesel but ultimately i did not find the diesel laguna very rewarding to drive. it felt like a driving appliance rather than a car. the accord has less torque but is such fun to drive when you bounce off the red line and play with the gears. ultimately it is much faster when pushed, but also very happy pootling around speed camera infested london streets. i have been very happy with this car - your own review was the reason i bought it (8.0 seconds to 60mph and in-gear acceleration that 'slaughtered' the opposition). i'll be changing car next year and the honda ownership experience has been so good that it will be very hard not to buy another new accord. your review of the new one nearly put me off but i'm going to drive it for myself. i think i agree with earlier posters that the journalistic preference towards diesels means that the joys of a good petrol engine are often overlooked. the price difference between an accord diesel and 2.0 petrol is £2000. that's a lot of fuel for a private 15000m pa driver like me. factor in the enjoyable, smooth, revvy engine and the petrol starts to make a case for itself. yes, you have to be in the right gear, at the right revs, but isn't that what enthusiastic driving is all about? did i also mention that for long-term reliability petrol cars seem to be doing much better than diesels at the moment?

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