Some of you may have read my last car review youll find it elsewhere in DooYoo a Volkswagen Bora 2.0 SE. Now it was time for a change the VW was four years old, 80k miles
time to look for something else, up to 10k miles, under a year old.
Four years with the Bora left me (and my family? No just me really) thinking along the following lines:-
Up to £15k, & keep it for 4 years again.
Mid-sized saloon, traditional 3-box with a boot. Needs good space front and back (The Boy is taller than me now and hes only 13 ) and a big boot for the trips to the dump. (I dont recycle, I dump rubbish into the skips the corporation provide for dumping rubbish into). No people carriers (what does that mean people carrier? What else is a car?) No estates (The Dog sits with The Boy in the back, and what does estate car mean anyway?) No 4x4s. I have no fields to drive along or people in Minis to crush.
Not too flash, not too boring, not ugly, not stand-out-from-the-crowd.
No German cars (Ill come back to Volkswagens in a minute), no French cars, no British cars, possibly an Italian car, no Korean cars (yet because they dont make any decent saloons yet), possibly a Japanese car No Fords or Vauxhalls. What about a Scandinavian car no, theyre Fords and Vauxhalls. Getting back to German cars BMW, Audi don't like the image. Volkswagen I used to be a committed VW person but now they are also Seats, Audis and Skodas nothing wrong with that but its all a bit one size fits all. And they dont have that solid, cut from granite feel anymore. And the dealer service I will never visit the local VW dealer again.
Heres the story.
I wanted one of the badge things for the top of the gear lever some of the silver had come off and it scratched my hand every time I changed gear. The badge unclips easily, its plastic.
Man Behind Counter: Let me check the parts list Sir (no he didnt say Sir) yes, thatll be £85.
Me: "Sorry? Its a plastic badge.
MBC: The badge comes with the gear lever as one part - £85.
Me: No, but I only want the badge, it must be worth about 50p, can I not get it on its own?
MBC: Sorry, it only comes with the gear lever.
Me: Ill just leave it then. (Thinks pity I drove all the way across town in my lunch hour to be told that. Should I go to a scrap-yard and get one? No, Ill just hold a grudge. This place wont drop me off & pick me up from work when the car gets serviced, and the girls behind the counter discussed me while I was standing there, the last time I was here not realising Id stepped out and come back in again). VW, you just lost any chance of me ever buying another VW.
Must be reliable and well made. No gizmos (a thing to stop you wandering out of your lane honestly!) No over-complicated and completely useless cup-holders. No traction devices which are actually just something which goes dud-dud-dud-dud
Fuel & Engine
No diesels, no turbochargers. Petrol. Nothing under 2.0L.
The Bora left me in two minds at 80k miles, I ended up with things I liked and thinks I didn't quite like so much, which would influencing my next car choice
Things I Liked
* The thick paint
* The trip computer
* The smooth ride (shocks never needed replacing in 80k)
* The exhaust system that never needed replacing in 80k
* The windscreen wipers that never needed replacing in 80k
* The beautifully styled alloy wheels that never went out of balance and never lost air
* The least and most even tyre wear Ive ever experienced
* The strong brakes
* The way, when it was up on the ramp thing at the garage while they fixed something theyd bodged (stripped the sump plug!), the underside of the car looked, at 55k, LIKE NEW I was stunned at this, couldnt stop staring at it. Clean like new
* The value it kept
Things I Didn't Quite Like So Much
* The totally uncomfortable drivers seat
* The Whassat! bongs from the trip computer
* The tiny petrol tank
* The tiny back seats
* The vague steering
* The ragged edge on the gear lever
* The slippery leather steering wheel
* The high fuel consumption and appetite for oil
* The velour seats that would never come clean and developed a funny smell
* The wheels that were near impossible to clean
* The over-complicated and completely useless cup-holders
* The people that kept driving into it and making me go to the body shop (three times! not VWs fault, I know)
* The black boxes and sensors that all gave up at the same time at 65k, at great expense, and still werent right after that, after two different garages had a go at fixing them, second one the dealer above. Another nail in the dealership coffin).
* The funny clicking from the engine. (This was a repetitious tick tick-tick-tic tickticktick whirrr... silence when the engine was ticking over that sounded to me like some sort of end float in a shaft or something like that. I mentioned it to the garage.
Me: Did you find the ticking noise?
MBC: Yes, its the charcoal filter (Im not kidding! His words!), we cleaned it out but it may still do it they all do that.
Me: Stunned silence. Another nail in the VW dealership coffin.
* The traction control that would cut in Dud-dud-dud-dud as I was trying to drive gently on ice, break grip and put the car out of control thereafter, with people in the car asking what the dud-dud noise was.
* The over-sensitive ABS. The Honda hasnt cut in yet and Ive been driving it through atrocious winter weather.
I bought a 2004 Honda Accord. 2.0 petrol engine saloon. It now has just under 20k on the clock after owning it for 9 months.
Lets go through that list again
Probably about £3k more than it felt it was worth but what the hell, the test drive sold me on it instantly and I was feeling flush..
Just right, not too big, not too small, plenty of leg room, comfortable seats and driving position. The Boy says sitting in the back gives him a sore back after a long distance, but I tell him to shut up. If he gets any taller Ill just leave him at home. Nice big boot. All of the external corners are invisible though, so youre driving a virtual car, never quite sure how close you are to things all around, and the screen pillars are Very Thick watch out for that motorcyclist!
Not too Japanese, I think a European design house has influenced some aspects. Not beautiful, but striking, individual and I just love those huge chrome door handles. Wheels (low profile-ish alloy) are not particularly pretty, but boy are they easy to clean. Inside, nice and simple. I like it.
Stuck to my principles there. Fancied an Alfa but the 156 looked too small and I just cant be bothered being stranded at the roadside any more (sorry Alfa, thats unfair. I loved my Fiat Uno, which was totally reliable and was, to me, a design classic). Test-drove a Saab 9-5, it felt old-fashioned and sloppy.
Well, as they say, its a Honda, but there are aspects where the Bora was better: -
* Thicker paint (Accords seems particularly thin)
* Wheel material and air retention (Accord needs 2psi per wheel every month or so)
* Instrument lighting (Accords is too bright at night and if you turn it down it flickers)
* General fit of trim
Anything else quality-wise will have to wait until weve racked up the miles. And the cup-holders in the Honda WORK.
Fuel and Engine
Well! Fuel consumption the same as the Bora.
Does not use any oil at all. None. I think the pixies top it up...
Power output 150bhp is just fine and it is delivered so smoothly and effortlessly overtaking is just zoooom the V-Tec thing must do something, I think there is a little step at 3300rpm, as long as it all doesnt shatter expensively then fine. Its nice to drive.
The final nail in the VW coffin. When I needed to get the Accord serviced, I asked the dealers if they could drop me off at work. Better than that they came to work and picked the car up, serviced it and brought it back! They Called Me Sir! And it was cheaper to service than the Bora!
Highly, highly recommended. Buy one of these cars. Go there now.
This is the Accord from an owner’s perspective...with warts and all. But first we must look at the positives and there are a few of them! Our model is a 2.0 litre VTEC model. For those of you who are technically minded, you will already know the advantages of an engine like this. For others I will try my best to put everything into layman’s terms for you. Basically, this 2.0 litre unit is very hi-tech. The valves in the engine increase efficiency by letting exactly the right amount of petrol vapour into the engine according to the throttle response. And if you don’t understand that, I’ll just tell you that the engine is lightweight, powerful and efficient. From a standstill, the engine can push the car to 60mph in only 9 seconds. This is not lightening-quick but it is powerful enough for safe over-taking and to get you moving in good time. If you don’t mind breaking the law or find yourself in Germany you can push it all the way to 130mph. When you push that weighty, responsive throttle the engine growls like a sports car, but the car is so well insulated on the inside that the people outside can enjoy the sound much more than the driver if the car has its windows up. Our model is a SE Executive, which gives us both climate control and a sunroof, heated, electric leather seats, leather steering wheel, wood effect trim, CD player and cruise control. The black leather in our car looks very classy and the heated seats warm up your bum very nicely. Leather is also easier to clean, which may prove useful in the future. Personally I find a sunroof a complete con that is only good at reducing headroom. The car still has adequate headroom, but you’ve got to wonder what a sunroof is for besides making the car noisier, especially when we have climate control anyway. The single-disk CD player has finally put my cassette collection to bed and I’m in the middle of putting my home made various tapes
on CD. The whole stereo system is superb and the ergonomics are fantastic. The RDS system is quite good as it can interrupt you’re CD for news or traffic bulletins on the radio if you ask it to. The speakers are fantastic and far superior to the set-up on our old VW Passat. The rest of dash is very solid, if not particularly attractive. It is very functional but it cannot match the Passat or the ingenuity of the beautiful new Renault Laguna. The ergonomics are excellent all-round though. On the open road, if you can find an A-road or motorway with little traffic the cruise control is fantastic. The last time we had this feature on a car it was back in the early 1990s on our first Accord, but I was just a kid then and have never had the pleasure of using the feature before. The system is simple to use, with the controls on the steering wheel. Just press a button and you can take your right foot off the gas. If you want to accelerate you can just put your foot down or if you’re feeling lazy you can press the accelerate or decelerate buttons on the wheel! Different people enjoy different things about driving and while this is a quirky feature, I am a driver who prefers to do things manually, so unless I can hone my skills to turn it into a sporty feature, for me at least, it will remain a novelty. Thankfully, therefore, we have a manual gearbox and it is just superb. The gears are spaced out for a sporty drive with a wonderfully short throw. It changes smoother than a Des Lyman link and is a joy to use (unlike the Passat). When it is controlling a 2.0 litre engine the equation is only going to have one outcome, fun! Honda’s engineers have found the perfect mix of sport and refinement. It is not the motorway cruiser that the Passat is. The ride is much firmer and it tends to pick up imperfections on the road more, but it’s not enough to irritate the driver. The car handles superbly on both main and B-roads. The stee
ring is weighted perfectly for the balance to deliver great fun on winding roads and composed assurance on the motorway. This is first class and just as good, if not better, than the new Mondeo, proving just how under-rated this car is. On the outside, Honda has recently added a couple of tiny little tweaks for only those with an eye for detail to spot. The new front and rear bumpers have been revised with the new front end giving the car a more aggressive look, especially with the fog-lamps. The 15-inch alloy wheels are a little undersized, but are quite nice anyway. The car may not have the flair of the Renault Laguna or the solidity of the new Passat but it is a handsome car in its own right. Our car is (sadly) silver and the strips and door handles are all colour-coded. From the outside it looks very well indeed. But owning the car let’s you know so much more about the car. It needs expensive 95 octane fuel for a start and it needs and oil change after 3000 miles (we’ve already clocked 2000 in three weeks). The main service comes round every 12,000 miles! These are the little things that can begin to annoy you. There also seems to be a little rattle on the front left-hand side, maybe from the wipers too. It will cost around £45 to fill up the car at today’s prices but it’s good for at least 400 miles on that and fuel economy is good for an engine of its size. I miss the extensive trip computer on the Passat that would give me exact economy figures and especially the aesthetics of those beautiful blue dials. Sitting in the rear has its advantages and disadvantages when compared to the VW. It is less roomy, but the seats are more comfortable. The boot size isn’t quite as big either but still has plenty of room. These are all minor faults but they are worth the mention because it only takes a tiny itch to annoy you and drive you mad. I loved our Passat and it will always hold sentimental value fo
r me for various reasons. I don’t think that the Accord will ever hold the same affection for me, but as a piece of metal to take on to the road you couldn’t ask for much more… …Well I could ask for an M5 or an S500 but that’s just me dreaming again…