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Car reviews - Honda - Accord - VTi-S 4-dr sedan

Our Opinion

We like
Quality, performance, efficiency, equipment levels, dynamics, refinement
Room for improvement
Slightly unadventurous styling, parts and servicing can get expensive

Honda logo9 May 2003

By MALCOLM LIVERMORE

HONDA launched the fifth generation Accord in October, 1993. With class-leading levels of refinement, quality and chassis dynamics, the Accord's only letdown was its unadventurous styling.

Honda sought to address this with the Accord "Mk5½" update which ran from November, 1995, until the new, bigger US-made Accord appeared in late 1997.

The subtle but effective facelift saw a more aggressive front end wearing a smoother bumper, a chrome grille surround and a relocated badge. The bolder tail was a more obvious change while there were no mechanical alterations.

Three models are available - entry level EXi, the mid-range VTi and the luxurious VTi-S.

On the latter two, the 2.2-litre, all-alloy, single overhead camshaft, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine benefits from Honda's VTEC variable camshaft technology.

VTEC lifts power and torque without increasing engine rpm while still giving strong response at lower engine speeds.

With 107kW of power and an impressive 198Nm of torque from just 2.2 litres, the Accord hustles along swiftly, quietly and rather creamily, although step-off acceleration is not strong until the engine revs come on song.

The VTEC engine's sheer efficiency makes for frugal fuel economy even if the Accord is driven enthusiastically. The optional four-speed automatic transmission features a device which adapts the gear changes according to how the car is being driven.

Suspension is an all-wishbone independent set-up, a typical Honda configuration notable for its accurate wheel movement control, responsive handling and commendable ride quality. Unlike some earlier Honda suspensions, it limits intrusive road rumble and harshness.

The Accord is an extremely well engineered family sedan with impressive road manners. But unlike, for example, a Peugeot 406, it will not stir the enthusiast's blood.

Instead, driving the Accord immediately highlights its assured, sure-footed feel on the road. The Honda is predictable and controlled, inspiring confidence rather than passion.

The panoramic driving position helps this feeling, thanks to the low dashboard, vast windscreen and plunging bonnet line. It also helps reduce fatigue on long trips, as do the comfortable and supportive seats.

The cabin - a paragon of quality and Japanese craftsmanship - is spacious with plenty of elbow, leg and head room for five.

Some may find the design a little too Japanese generic but the execution is first class as is the instrumentation with its nifty blue night lighting.

Equipment levels are generous in the VTi-S. There are dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, climate control air- conditioning, power windows and mirrors, central locking, sunroof, leather trim and alloy wheels.

The rear end changes have resulted in a boot slightly bigger and easier to use thanks to a reshaped lid.

Although Honda has cut prices, servicing and spare parts are still expensive due to the complex technology. But owners are rewarded with renown reliability.

The exacting engineering standards employed by Honda were rewarded when the Accord came first in an extensive local quality survey. The Honda Accord is without question an excellent all- rounder.


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