Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC Type S review
by David Finlay (19 April 2012)
Of all the Honda Accords currently on sale, the only one more expensive than the Type S saloon is the Type S estate. We're therefore at more or less the pinnacle here, so it's appropriate that, among other things, this is the most powerful car in the range. It's 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine is available in several Accords, but mostly in 148bhp form. For the Type S, it has been fiddled with and tweaked and cajoled to the point where it produces a maximum of 178bhp.
There are a couple of odd things about this engine. I drove a Type S - perhaps this very one - in Northern Ireland last year, on the occasion of the refreshed Accord's introduction to the UK media, and came to two conclusions about it. First, it seemed surprisingly gutless at low revs, which was a bad thing; second, the alternator drive whine which Honda had previously seemed incapable of eradicating finally seemed to be a thing of the past, which was a good thing.
On to 2012, and what do we find? First, the engine now seems to perform much better without being pushed. That could be because it has more miles on it now and has loosened up - my world would by no means be rocked if that turned out to be the case. Second, the bloody whine is back. I have no explanation for that, but last time I was in a Type S I definitely didn't hear the whine and this time I definitely did.
Be that as it may, I can't fault the fuel economy. The official figure of 50.4mpg is quite close to the 148bhp diesel's 52.3mpg, which seems reasonable as long as you don't use the extra power too much, and their CO2 emissions are sufficiently similar to mean that they're both in VED Band F, leading to annual payments of £125 from year two onwards.
No, I didn't manage to break the 50mpg barrier, but I did average just over 45mpg, which is about what I would expect from a reasonably powerful diesel of this size.
Honda says that the Type S is intended for people who might otherwise buy an Audi S line or a BMW M Sport. In terms of standard equipment it's quite well-served, with 18" alloy wheels, several sport bodystyling items, leather upholstery, a cooled glovebox, automatic headlights and wipers, an auto-dimming interior mirror, an air-conditioning vent for rear passengers, cruise control, an eight-way adjustable driver's seat (with a memory function which I was glad to find a way of adjusting after the seat tried to fold me in half every time I climbed aboard for the first two days) and, if you intend to do any towing, Trailer Stability Assist.
I struggle to believe, however, that anyway who really does want an S line or an M Sport would want a Honda in their lives. (Not saying that's a good thing, not saying they're bad people. It just doesn't seem likely.) And I seriously doubt that they'd be impressed by the dynamics of the Type S either.
To put it charitably, I feel that Honda's chassis engineers have made some odd decisions over the years, and with the Type S I think they've been at it again. The suspension seems very underdamped, in that the car takes a long time to recover from any body movement, so that if another body movement is required shortly after the first one it starts to lose track of what it's supposed to be doing.
The steering is sharp, I'll give it that. If anything it's a little too sharp, and the initial turn-in can sometimes be more than the rest of the chassis has the wit to deal with. A light touch on the wheel is definitely required. And while I'm not going to pretend that either Audi or BMW always gets its suspension settings right, they usually do a better job than this.
The Accord is a large car, and it has a great deal of room for front passengers, whose seats are particularly comfortable. Oddly enough, though, there's not much room in the back: at six foot three I have trouble sitting behind myself, if you see what I mean. It seems odd, especially in view of the fact that Honda did a much better packaging job with the much smaller Jazz.
It's not as if rear passenger room has been compromised in favour of luggage space. The Accord's boot seems large enough (if rather oddly-shaped and with an only moderately-sized opening), but look at the figures. Its capacity is 460 litres. The Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Ford Mondeo, Skoda Superb, Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat all offer more than that.
If this seems like an angry review, it's really not meant to be. I didn't object to having it for a week, and it looked pretty good parked outside my house. Looking back, though, it doesn't seem to do very much that rival cars can't do better.