HONDA ACCORD EURO REVIEW
When we reviewed Honda’s Accord Euro in 2008, we reckoned then that it was the best buy in the medium segment. That year, we awarded it Runner Up in TMR’s ‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Awards behind the FG Falcon XR6 Turbo.
Since then, the segment has seen the arrival of a new Mazda6, Camry and Mondeo, and, more recently, the Hyundai i45 and Suzuki's arresting Kizashi. Time then to have another look at Honda’s mid-sized warrior; does it still lead the pack in a hard-fought but shrinking segment?
Certainly, the Honda Accord Euro is still a very satisfying drive. But what about the rest of the package: how well does it now stack up?
For this review we had the top of the line six-speed manual Honda Accord Euro Luxury. Blood red and with muscled wheel arches, the lines might be a couple of years old but it still commands a presence.
What’s the appeal?
The essence of Honda, and the ace in the deck for the Euro, is its on-road agility and sporting verve.
Fluid suspension, a superbly balanced free-revving engine and rapid six-speed manual shift (or five-speed auto with steering-wheel paddles), the Accord Euro has a sporting heart.
But with four doors, plenty of leg and shoulder room for the family and a capacious boot, it also offers the day-to-day practicality and sensible buying typical of the medium segment.
It had grown, both in dimensions and weight over the very well-regarded first-gen Euro, and had a more powerful – and genuinely potent – 2.4 litre engine to compensate.
But while Honda described the heavily sculptured new styling as “more dynamic”, not many would agree.
Certainly, it has the athletic bulges in the right places, but looks a bit overblown. Many lament the passing of the tidy but purposeful lines of the smaller first-gen Euro.
Underneath, while still sitting on a double wishbone suspension – both front and rear – the new model came with a wider track and lower centre of gravity.
The interior too came in for attention with new higher-quality materials, a new ‘cock-pit’ layout for the driver, and improved NVH and refinement.
‘Motion Adaptive’ electric power steering was also new (which works in concert with Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist system).
What features does it have?
Both the standard Accord Euro and Euro Luxury models are very well-configured.
There is also a clear LCD multi-information display, six-stacker CD (MP3/WMA compatible) with aux-in and a 10-speaker premium sound system (with the volume-setting linked to the road speed).
Also standard are 17-inch alloy wheels with a full size spare.
For the Luxury spec model we had under test you can add sunroof, classy leather interior trim, electrically adjustable and heated seats (front seat passengers), driver-seat memory setting, auto-dimming mirror, rain-sensing wipers, front fog lights and front and rear parking sensors.
The Luxury also comes with 18-inch alloys, but a temporary spare, and can also be specified at additional cost – in the Accord Euro Luxury Navi - with sat nav and reversing camera.
That said, the Accord Euro’s tactile surfaces have a solid quality feel, the graphite metal trims look sharp and the ergonomics – the way things function and fall to hand – work as they should.
It is easy to get set at the wheel and controls are logical and easily used.
The multi-function leather-wrapped wheel is solid and direct and reinforces the Accord Euro’s sporting feel.
What's under the bonnet?
With a relatively high compression ratio of 11.0:1, and with larger diameter valves, revised valve timing and reduced exhaust system pressures (over the previous model), it is a strong and very willing unit. Even better, it goes about things with a muted but appealing sporting rasp.
It comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic with paddle shift (with Grade Logic Control and Shift Hold Control, designed to reduce gear 'hunting' and unnecessary changes).
With double wishbone suspension front and rear (more expensive and superior to the more commonly used Macpherson strut set-up), the Accord Euro is impressively engineered.
How does it drive?
It is easily manoeuvred around town thanks to its direct and softly-weighted steering, and, with instant throttle response, can easily be slotted into ‘holes’ in the traffic.
It also provides a supple and superbly balanced ride. It doesn’t jar over expansion joints and rutted bitumen like some (more expensive) Europeans, but is comfortable and nicely isolated while still providing good feedback through the wheel.
However, put it on a country road where you can stretch out that willing engine, and the Accord Euro really shines.
Under the whip, it makes a nice throaty throttle-body sound from the DOHC i-VTEC engine, and, in manual guise, is a delight to whip through the six-speed box.
Even over broken bitumen or secondary roads it is not easily unsettled. It provides enough initial compliance to iron-out jarring and thumping, and firms progressively with just the right rebound tuning on the dampers to provide very stable and sure-footed handling.
In a nutshell, the Accord Euro has the feel of a sporting saloon. In the right hands it is a very swift car and one to be appreciated by the keen driver.
But it is also practical. It is just as happy in domestic duties; it’s strong, roomy, comfortable and an effortless drive.
What did our passengers think?
The Luxury model we had under test came with flawlessly-trimmed black leather seats.
Front and back, they are generously shaped and comfortable and add to the sense of quality that pervades the Accord’s interior.
It is surprisingly large inside; it feels more spacious and less ‘enclosed’ for instance than a Commodore (its external dimensions are also – surprisingly – a near match, there is only 50mm or so in it) and provides ample room for the typical family.
There are nice touches like slide-adjustable lid of the centre console which doubles as an armrest. There are also two cup-holders in the centre console and a further two in the centre armrest for rear seat passengers.
With a ‘large car’ refined ride, and wind and road noise barely noticeable, the “pretty nice” nod of approval from the adolescent lump summed up our passengers’ views.
A large wide boot, cavernous in fact at 467 litres, adds to its family appeal. The boot loading height is quite low at 678 mm, the rear seats can be easily released for larger items and there are tie-down hooks inside to stop things moving about.
How does it compare?
The Accord Euro’s natural enemy is the Mazda6. They are close in style, feel and performance.
The Mazda has the pricing edge, currently available for driveaway deals starting at $30,745. The equivalent Mazda6 Luxury is available for $44,748 driveaway. By contrast, the Accord Euro range starts at $33,490, plus on road costs, rising to $40,990 (plus etc.) for the Euro Luxury under test.
Which is better? That depends upon your leaning.
But all in this segment are closely matched, and each has its individual strengths. The robust (and under-rated) Mondeo makes a strong case with the option of a ripper diesel and, bettering the Accord Euro Luxury in price, the well-appointed and powerful XR5 turbo which is currently on offer for $41,990 driveaway.
The Hybrid Camry – it is also worth a very close look (don’t believe the nonsense that is being pedaled in some quarters) – is another that can be jagged for less than the Euro Luxury model we had under test (Hybrid Camry Luxury is currently at $43,924 driveaway).
Suzuki's value-laden Kizashi (starting at $31,573 driveaway), with a similar sporting feel and exceptional chassis, is perhaps its biggest test. The Kizashi's engine though is a bit peaky, and doesn't have quite the responsiveness of the Euro in normal driving.
Fuel consumption and green rating
Honda claims an average combined fuel consumption of just 8.9 l/100km (for both manual and auto models).
We averaged slightly less, coming in at 8.6 l/100km, but that was over two tanks with more highway ‘klicks’ than city travel (although a good few of them were pretty enthusiastic).
With Euro 4 emissions compliance, CO2 emissions are a creditable 212 g/km (manual) and 211 g/km (auto).
It also comes with seatbelt reminder, ‘active’ head restraints (front seats) to reduce the likelihood of neck injury in rear impacts, three-point seatbelts all round (for five), rear seatbelts with Automatic Locking Retractor and Emergency Locking Retractor.
Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) Body Structure is designed to enhance occupant protection by dispersing collision forces over a larger frontal area, reducing the chance of deformation of the passenger compartment in the event of a crash.
Achieving a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating, it also comes with ABS brakes, stability and traction control (Vehicle Stability Assist), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Motion Adaptive EPS and all the expected and now quite-meaningless acronyms.
Is it expensive to maintain?
Service intervals are 10,000 km or every six months.
All new Hondas are sold with a 3 year/100,000km mechanical warranty. A five year/140,000km warranty is available at extra cost, which also brings 24/7 roadside assistance nationwide for five years.
The Accord Euro comes in six colour options but with black interior throughout. Add $475 for metallic/pearl (M/P) paint colours.
Colour choices being: Premium White (P), Crystal Black (P), Volcano Gray (M), Buran Silver (M), Cobalt Blue (P), and Milano Red
- Accord Euro manual: $33,490; automatic: $35,790
- Accord Euro Luxury manual: $40,990; automatic: $43,290
- Accord Euro Luxury Navi (automatic only): $46,290
On road registration costs and delivery charges are additional, varying from state to state.
But there is still something special about the Accord Euro. It has an elusive sporting character, a brilliant engine and an on-road fluidity that sets it apart. In this, Mazda’s 6 comes very close, but the Accord still has an edge.
We think that the Accord Euro Luxury at $40,990 (plus on-road costs), despite its price reductions earlier this year, remains a little pricey.
The Accord Euro Luxury Navi (with sat nav and reversing camera) is a hefty $46,290 (plus), but the ‘standard’ Accord Euro at $33,490 (plus) is at a better price point.
That said, with flawless coachwork, typical Honda attention to detail and that superb unburstable i-VTEC engine, if you love driving, you will love the Accord Euro.
And if you’re shopping in this category, it should be on your list.