Good motorway manners, but lacking everyday performance

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

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kr38 31 July 2008

Re: Honda Accord 2.0 ES GT

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?

SteveA 31 July 2008

Re: Honda Accord 2.0 ES GT

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..

julianphillips 30 July 2008

Re: Honda Accord 2.0 ES GT

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...

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.