Car reviews - Honda - Accord Euro - sedan range
Build quality, handling, performance, standard features
Room for improvement
Steering feel, engine noise, rear seat room, no full-size spare with 18-inch wheels
24 Jun 2008
By PHILIP LORD
ACCORDING to Honda, the new Accord Euro is every bit as good as the much-vaunted European medium luxury cars like BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
Time will tell if the Euro is as good as the ‘Euros’, but even ignoring for a moment the prestige brands from Germany, the new Honda arrives with a well-established pedigree of its own.
The first-generation Honda Accord Euro has already won plenty of accolades for its dynamics and performance, neatly wrapped in a stylish, well-proportioned and well-made body.
The new model only appears to improve on that reputation - while it is not by any means perfect, it appears to be a great improvement overall.
The interior is a definite step-up in quality and appearance on the old model, with the dash made of a large-grain vinyl similar to that used in BMWs - although the shiny plastic used on the glovebox and lower door panels doesn’t blend with a luxury appearance so well.
The main instruments imitate the Mercedes-Benz C-class with the needles appearing to emanate from the outer edge of the respective dials, and this looks classy while still functioning rather well.
Honda has its own take on BMW’s i-Drive, but it looks at odds with the otherwise stylish dashboard. The large central button protrudes from the centre stack to control the trip computer and (on the Navi) the sat-nav system.
The seats are well shaped and supportive up front, with ample leg, shoulder and headroom. The drive gets a good view out, with no large pillars or other major blind spots to contend with.
The rear doors open nice and wide with minimal intrusions to a rear seat that does not initially appear to offer much more room than the old model.
Legroom and foot room are at a premium. Though it is not by any means poor for the category, but you’d have to be realistic in that even with extra shoulder room over the previous model there is not really bountiful space for three adults across the back seat, and even two will find knee room a bit tight if they are tall. The seat itself is well bolstered for two, and a lot better in this regard than the previous model.
The boot has a low loading lip and the 60/40-split, folding rear seat adds to convenience, even if the release levers are located in the boot area only.
Although the full-size spare in the base model is an advantage when driving in rural areas, the large raised boot floor to accommodate it isn’t. The Luxury and Luxury Navi have a flat boot floor with their space-saver spare.
The new Accord Euro engine performs very well once it arrives at 4000rpm and as it lunges towards its 7000rpm it feels quick, even if frenetically noisy.
The cammy engine sound will appeal to enthusiasts - who’ve presumably bought an Accord Euro for that reason - or annoy those who just want a smooth and quiet ride. Perhaps they should by the Accord V6 instead.
Highway overtaking manoeuvres, especially when teamed with the auto transmission, are a breeze but on long hills the engine’s need to spin fast to deliver its best becomes pretty clear.
This is not a torque-laden monster of an engine, although you don’t really notice it unless under load such as going up a steep hill.
The six-speed manual is proficient enough with direct shifts and a light clutch action, while the five-speed auto teams very well with the 2.4-litre engine.
If you’re a bit old-school and think of four-cylinder automatics as cars for wimps, the Accord Euro auto will change your mind. It’s quick and you don’t have to work hard for it.
Even though the Accord Euro doesn’t appear to have the makings for best-in-class handling, it is by no means bad. It is a step forward over the previous model, which was already known for its tidy cornering ability.
The new Accord Euro turns in more decisively and is more responsive to adjustments to cornering line.
However, a lack of steering feel - and a strange point of resistance as about 45 degrees of steering lock is applied - takes away from what would otherwise be a superlative driving experience.
While the steering is not convincing, the rest of the Accord Euro’s dynamics are certainly that.
The Euro has one of the better chassis in class, with high adhesion levels from the 18-inch tyres sampled on the Luxury model and only minimal pitching from very well tuned dampers and springs.
The tendency is to push into typical front-drive understeer but the Honda will let you play a satisfying lilting cornering tune before it gradually becomes a howling tyre noise at its adhesion limit.
While ride quality was hard to assess on the mostly smooth roads experienced at launch, the few pot-holes we singled out for attention were dispatched quite smoothly. There is no indication that the bushes are too soft and the satisfying thud going over the holes suggest that the improved suspension rigidity has worked.
There is much to like about the new Accord Euro. While Honda has taken a conservative approach to improvements, all of them - with perhaps the exception of some aspects of the steering - are worthwhile.
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