Honda Accord (2011) review
by David Finlay (14 April 2011)
The new Honda Accord, due to go on sale in the UK in July 1 priced from £21,695, isn't so very different from the model it will replace. The changes amount to a mid-life update, and perhaps the most significant of them is the fact that more cars in the range officially emit less than 160g/km of CO2, which as business customers will know is the Write Down Allowance threshold.
Some mild adjustments to the exterior styling make the 2011 Accord look slightly sharper than its predecessor, and there's no doubt that the car is well-equipped. Even the most basic examples are fitted with 17" alloy wheels, cruise control, Vehicle Stability Assist and connectivity for Bluetooth, MP3 players and iPods as standard.
By the time you get to the range-topping Type S, you're offered 18" wheels, satellite navigation, active cornering lights and high-beam support (which dips the headlights for you when the car senses another one is ahead of it at night) without having to explore the options list, though you do have to pay £29,400 for all this, or £30,755 if you've chosen the Tourer estate body style rather than the saloon.
The Type S also has a more powerful 178bhp version of the 2.2-litre i-DTEC turbo diesel engine which elsewhere in the range produces a maximum of 148bhp. This might be described as a mixed blessing. Most diesels with 178bhp or so perform very strongly at low revs, but the i-DTEC doesn't. If you want to go quickly, you're going to have to work it quite hard, to the extent that you might almost be as well with a petrol engine under the bonnet.
Another peculiarity of the Type S is that, although it's not especially sporty, its steering is incredibly sharp. On several occasions during a short run over some back roads at the media launch in Northern Ireland I found myself turning in to a corner, then releasing the steering as I headed towards a verge, then make a second turn almost immediately afterwards, simply because I wasn't prepared for the front end of the car to react as quickly as it did. Nothing else about the Type S makes you think it's going to behave like this, so it takes some getting used to.
I also tried a 148bhp diesel ES GT, on the basis that Honda reckons this will be the best-seller in the range. It reacted more in the manner I was expecting, which was a relief, but in both cars I suspected that the people who set up the front suspension never spoke to the people who set up the rear during the development process. On bumpy roads (and there seems to be no shortage of those within a 15-mile radius of Coleraine) the ride quality of the Accord might charitably be described as odd. Perhaps it's better on smoother tarmac.
When Honda first started fitting diesel engines to the Accord, they suffered badly from an immensely irritating whine from the alternator drive. To my great relief this has been eradicated completely - not, frankly, before time.
Two more trim levels not already mentioned are called ES and EX, and the engine line-up includes 2.0 and 2.4 i-VTEC petrol units, the latter offered only in the EX. Automatic transmission is offered as an option on all models except the Type S, which is manual-only.