Car Test   R0352
 
August 2003
First Drive Honda Accord
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 2.0SE Tourer
Although there’s no hatchback, Honda promised five months ago that there would be an estate car version of the latest Accord. Here it is. However, unlike its forebears, it’s dubbed ‘Tourer’ rather than ‘Aerodeck’, presumably to align it with other upper-medium, up-market estates.
  
   Sure enough, with its longer wheelbase and extra length (5cm and 8.5cm respectively, compared with the saloon) and its tapered roof and side windows, it does have a certain presence. The styling might not be to everyone’s taste, but it conceals a practical and spacious load carrier, even when all the seats are occupied. In fact, only the Mazda 6 estate can ‘out-cube’ it.
  
   There are also a couple of clever tricks up the newcomer’s sleeve. One is the ingenious ‘one-motion’ back seat, whose sections can be folded flat with a simple one-handed operation. Its other party piece is the automatic tailgate opening and closing via the key fob. One press and it rises, another and it lowers, then shuts itself silently – except for a safety beep. Useful in theory, but you still need a free hand to hold the key that works it.
  
   Two omissions are a sliding load platform and any serious form of load-locating devices, as seen on certain rivals – only lashing rings are provided. On the other hand, because there’s no spare wheel as standard, there’s a deep, lockable compartment under the easy-to-load deck, flanked by two lidded cubby holes.
  
   A wide, slim-wheelarched load area results from the revised rear suspension that has no detrimental effect on the ride. As with the saloon, this is comfortably composed on main roads and at cruising speeds, but when the car is lightly laden it suffers from fidgetiness over sharp-edged faults on pock-marked surfaces. Helped by plenty of tyre grip, the Tourer corners with poised assurance, but while the steering (hydraulically assisted on Tourers) is smooth and free-flowing, it feels lacklustre in feedback. The brakes are fine.
  
   The lusty two-litre engine isn’t entirely vibration-free below 2000rpm, but it’s smooth beyond this and revs joyously to the 6800rpm red line, taking full advantage of its 155bhp. Indeed, it feels so swift and eager – aided by an excellent light and positive ‘click-click’ gearchange – that it makes the 2.4-litre version rather an indulgence. We didn’t like the ‘suddenness’ of the clutch and accelerator, though – it takes practice to make jerk-free take-offs.
  
   The dash is high and hefty, but there are plenty of (manual) seat and steering adjustments. These enable the driver to get comfortable at the wheel, through which there’s a clear view of big, brightly backlit instruments, which are models of clarity. The controls and centre push buttons are sensibly located, as well. Reversing is made easy because you can see where the tail ends, but all the roof pillars are substantial. The big door mirrors are excellent, though.
  
   Despite the Tourer’s longer wheelbase, there’s no increase in the adequate, though unexceptional, rear leg and kneeroom – the extra length is bestowed on the load platform. Passengers sit on the low side, so headroom is achieved at the expense of thigh support for lankier types.
  
AT A GLANCE
  considering size, price and rivals
Controls/displays
Handling/steering
Comfort
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Space/practicality
LIKES ...
  • sunroof and dual-zone air conditioning standard
  • rear head restraints fold forward level with seatback
  • doors close quietly with just a firm nudge
  • two rear grocery bag hooks
  • 474-page handbook makes an excellent doorstop
and GRIPES
  • lever seat recliners adjust in steps
  • speedo calibrated 20, 40, 60 etc (not 30, 50, 70)
  • cheap sounding horn
  • centre console warning lights tiny
  • shiny plastic console won't please traditionalists
VERDICT
In general, the new Accord is built well enough and goes well enough to justify its higher price and aspirations. Lots of space and clever, sensible touches make this version particularly practical; indeed, we rate it as one of the best upper-medium estates, sorry, Tourers in the business. Whether image-conscious buyers (keen on driving behind German badges) will see it this way is another matter, of course. We shall see…


BRIEF SPECIFICATION
engine 1998cc, 4 cylinder petrol; chain-driven double overhead camshafts with i-VTEC variable valve timing and lift. 155bhp at 6000rpm, 140lb ft at 4500rpm
drive 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 20.1mph/1000rpm in 5th
suspension front: independent double wishbones and coil springs, anti-roll bar
rear: multi-link with coil springs and telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 195/65R15V tyres (Michelin Energy on test car); spare wheel optional - aerosol and inflation kit standard
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear, with brake assist/ABS and electronic brake force distribution
0-62mph* 9.9sec
official mpg 25.9/41.5/34.0§
maximum speed* 128mph
AA mpg range 22-46
AA typical mpg 33miles
CO2 emissions 196g/km
* maker's figure  § urban/extra urban/combined

THE ACCORD RANGE
body upper-medium (mid-priced) saloon and estate car (Tourer)   trim levels SE, Sport, Executive, Type S
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/2.0 litre/155bhp, 4/2.4/190
diesel: 4/2.2/138 due January 2004
  drive front-wheel drive. 2.0: 5-speed manual, 2.4 Type S and Executive: 6-speed manual (5-speed automative optional on 2.0 and 2.4 Executive)
notable features touch-screen DVD satnav, side indicators in door mirrors, rain-sensing wipers with fine-tuner, sports suspension option, Tourer: power-operated tailgate and 'one-motion' fold-flat back seat


SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
  in centimetres (5-door estate car)
  outside
  length 475
  width - including mirrors 202
    - mirrors folded 183
  height (no roof bars) 147
  load sill height (inside/outside) 0/56
  steering
  turns lock-to-lock 3.0
  turning circle (metres) 11.6*
   
  easy to park/garage?
  inside
  front - legroom 89-110
    - headroom 93-99
  rear - typical legroom 100
    - typical kneeroom 73
    - headroom 97
    - hiproom 131
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
545/19.2
  load length 105-180#
  load length to facia no
  load width 101-131
  load height (to blind/top of aperture) 47 68/78
* maker's figure  # rear seat folded
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