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.