Matt Saunders
11 April 2008

What is it?

The most powerful and expensive version of the new Honda Accord - the flagship of Honda’s new range, in fact – and one of the cars that, Honda hopes, can convince the British public that it can make upmarket, premium saloons that stand comparison with the very best.

What’s it like?

Like all of the new model range, the priciest version of Honda’s new compact executive saloon gets a richer and better-quality cabin than the last car, a more adventurous-looking exterior, and an improved chassis and steering system that, combined, make it much more entertaining-to-drive.

It’s also got an equipment list strong enough to make it the most technologically advanced car in its class. There are few problems, then, with the way this car looks, feels, rides or handles, and none at all with the fact that, at various times and to varying degrees, it’s clever enough to brake, accelerate and steer on behalf of its owner, and to warn him of a potential crash up ahead.

No, the can of worms explodes when you realise that this car costs not much less than a BMW 325i SE – a car with an award-winning, 215bhp, 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, as well as a riflebolt six-speed manual gearbox, rear-driven handling dynamism to spare, and more genuine premium-brand allure than you can measure in a hundred focus groups.

The range-topping Honda Accord, on the other hand – the model that middle-managers countrywide should surely aspire to own if the outfit’s premium brand ambitions are to be taken seriously – has a noisy, 198bhp 2.4-litre four-pot under the bonnet, which drives the front wheels through a five-speed automatic gearbox that is often slow to kick down and guilty of transmission slip. The Power of Dreams? This is anything but.

In fact, this car needs this powertrain only marginally more than it needs an unscheduled level-crossing meeting with the 7.58 from London Paddington.

The engine’s short on power and torque even relative to a decent 2.0-litre turbo, and married to an automatic gearbox which seems to sap power from it (and disappointingly, has one fewer gear ratio that the manual version), thrashing it way up beyond 6000rpm is the only way to maintain a ‘sporting’ pace. In the real world, if this car is any quicker point-to-point than the manual-equipped i-DTEC Accord, this road tester will eat his notebook and pencil.

Should I buy one?

If you must, get a manual – but if you want a proper premium sports saloon, look elsewhere. That’s not to say there aren’t strong options within this new Accord range. The diesel’s good enough to stand comparison with all-but-the-very-best compact exec oil-burners, in fact, and there are cheaper and better petrol options too.

But in order for Honda to convince anyone that it can make saloon cars as desirable as the Mercedes C-class and BMW 3-series, this car – its range-topping small saloon - needs a richer, smoother and more powerful engine. As it is, the most expensive Accord is by no means the best, and it certainly isn’t a match for a six-pot C-class or BMW.

Join the debate

Comments
6

N P

Re: Honda Accord 2.4 i-VTEC

6 years 32 weeks ago

This car clearly needs an extra three cylinders, another 50bhp and a couple of grand off the exhorbitant price tag. As it is, it's an expensive irrelevance. Why would anyone buy it over the more stylish, refined and premium Lexus IS250, let alone the German triumvirate that leave it for dead (metaphorically and figuratively)?

Re: Honda Accord 2.4 i-VTEC

6 years 15 weeks ago

I took delivery of my new 2.4 Honda Accord in June. It's been absolutley fabulous. The engine revs like crazy and the car handles like it is on rails. I had the previous model and that was excellent too. In three years and over 60,000 miles absolutely nothing ever went wrong, not even a blown light bulb. Previously I have driven BMW 330 (car fell to bits, had to have the gearbox replaced, dealers were completely incompetent), an Audi A4 2.8 quattro (constant electrical problems) and a Merc C class 280 (fell to bits, dealers were snobby).

Stop looking at the badge and go and drive one. I'm very happy to have something different on my drive, rather than some mass produced german car.

Re: Honda Accord 2.4 i-VTEC

6 years 15 weeks ago

N P wrote:

This car clearly needs an extra three cylinders...

A seven cylinder engine? Would that be inline or a vee configuration?

Re: Honda Accord 2.4 i-VTEC

6 years 15 weeks ago

Nonsense.

It quite clearly must be in Boxer configuration.

Brrmm, brrmm.

Where has all Japanese design went to?

Re: Honda Accord 2.4 i-VTEC

6 years 15 weeks ago

...or maybe a radial configuration?

Re: Honda Accord 2.4 i-VTEC

1 year 37 weeks ago

Absolutely fantastic car to own. Think this article has a slightly snobbish overtone with the author suggesting to look for "more genuine premium-brand".

Agreed, for the size of the engine it could/should be tuned to give a higher bhp but I have to say that with no modifications whatsoever  I have "smoked" all manner of BMW's, Audi and VW models -- it has bags of acceleration off the line. I notice a split second lag time when my auto downchanges to overtake... hardly sluggish enough to complain about!

I did wonder if this review was actually for the car in question....

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Our Verdict

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

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