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Honda Accord i-DECT EX GT

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      16.11.2009 17:48
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      great reliable car

      We bought a Honda Accord in January this year. We wanted a car which would provide comfort as well as reliability. We lived in Kent and we had bought a new home on Orkney so we had a lot of traveling to do. We have now covered 20,000 miles and has the car been what we hoped for? Mainly yes. The drive and handling is excellent. It holds up well in all weathers. Traction control doesnt irritate and gear changes are smooth. The comfort is great , love the heated seats. The adas pack has made a difference with the long distances of motorway driving we have done. I love the lane keep and adaptive cruise control. It made driving so much easier. Fuel consumption is good. Trip computer said we were doing around 47 mpg but my husband has managed 63mpg . We have the estate version which has plenty of room for us. Build quality in general has been good. The bad points three speakers have blown. They have been replaced but it took ages for them to be done . It was said to be a common fault with this car. I had to email Honda direct to get things moving. The main problem was with the Honda dealer not the car. Would we chose one again Yes we probably would just a different dealer.

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      20.03.2009 18:26
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      Is this Honda's attempt to fix what wasn't broken?

      TITLE EXPLANATION

      Anyone remotely interested in cars cannot failed to have seen Honda's strap-line for their new Accord; "if it is difficult......it is worth doing", supposedly a quote from Mr Honda himself. I am not quite sure to what this refers; I rather think that the difficulty lay in developing an improved car from the already very good previous one!

      I feel it only fair to pre-empt this review by saying that this particular model is the exact replacement for my previous car - the Honda Accord 2.2 i-CTDi Executive, with which I had four years and 96,000 miles of experience with.

      WHAT IS IT?

      The Accord is a very long standing and well known model in Honda's line-up. Other model names; Carina, Cavalier, Cortina, Xantia, 80, 626 now Vectra even, have come and gone, but Honda have replaced each mid-range model with a new "mark" of Accord, this is, in case you are counting, the mark 8!

      As with most other cars, each successive model grows both in overall size and weight, depending on your standpoint this can be either a good or bad thing......

      ......personally I am in the "bad thing" camp. Heavier, larger cars use more of everything: raw materials, fuel, and road-space. Reducing size and particularly weight has to be the way to go in future. From the drivers' point of view, bigger cars are also less fun to drive - more comfortable possibly, arguably more spacious too - but what the world really needs is lighter, more economical cars.

      I may be interpreted as unfairly singling out Honda here - actually I am doing no such thing - ALL replacement models, with the glaring exception of the Mazda range, become ever more heavy and bloated, one only has to compare the previous and current model Ford Mondeo to understand what I am talking about here.

      The Accord history is an unusual one in that it actually started life as a smallish three door hatchback, from which a saloon was spawned. Unlike its Cortina or Cavalier competitors at the time, it did not start life as a saloon. Hatchback models of Accord have come and gone, for many a buyer the lack of a hatchback put them off of purchasing the last model Accord, and similarly will do this one too - the car only being available as a four door saloon or estate, which Honda insist on calling a Tourer.

      The history of the Honda diesel engine is a much shorter one, dating from January 2004 when it was launched in the Accord. They liked to think that, in arriving (almost) last on the market that they had learned from all of their competitors' mistakes and experience. In my, now 95,000 miles of experience with their all new 2.2 litre diesel engine this was only partially true.

      Honda is a company with a reputation for engineering - especially when it comes to engines. During my four years of ownership they have also appeared to be genuinely interested in customer feedback, read on to see if that has been interpreted into my ideal car!

      WHICH SPECIFIC MODEL?

      As with my own car, when purchased, this, the i-DECT EX GT is the top of the range Accord. I am reviewing the saloon here; an identically specified Tourer (estate) model is also available.

      The Accord range starts with the £18,893 2.0 i-VTEC ES model, the only model in the range falling below £20,000.

      IN WHAT CAPACITY AM I REVIEWING THIS CAR?

      My approach to this particular car, of all those reviewed in this current "series" may be regarded as unique. My experiences with a 2004 Honda Accord i-CTDi, covereing 96,000 miles, gave me a lot of experience as far as running the car was concerned.

      In many respects my car fell very short indeed of Honda's reputation for sound build quality and reliability, none of my previous Vauxhall's or Fords spent so much time off the road being repaired.

      Obviously, being a brand new replacement, for my car I am not in a position to assess its long term reliability - I can only compare its tangible qualities with the recently obsolete model.

      I am also reviewing this car with my fleet manager's hat on. Thanks to my invitation to the Millbrook Testing Ground from Fleet News Magazine to their Company Car In Action event, I have been able to compare many cars back to back, using two test tracks that simulate driving conditions that you would be hard pressed to encounter during many thousands of miles of ordinary motoring.

      Millbrook is a venue, that having attended for years, I am thoroughly familiar with. It allows direct comparison between various models. Being "closed circuits", the facilities there also allow you to drive at speeds which would, on public roads, be highly irresponsible. The importance of testing cars in this way is to find out just how a car behaves in extreme conditions i.e. on the limit, for instance in an emergency braking situation on the road, or perhaps a rapid and not anticipated lane changing manoeuvre.

      COSTS

      My own experience over the last four and a half years and 96,000 miles of motoring would tell me that this is not going to be a cheap car to run. Indeed my car Accord cost considerably more in both servicing and consumable parts than my previous V6 petrol engine Vauxhall Omega.

      In bald cost terms the clever statisticians at What Car magazine tell us that a comparable BMW 320d SE will cost you 50.7 pence per mile, a Mondeo 2.0 TDi Titanium X 55.7 p, whilst this new Honda is going to cost you a whopping 65 pence for each mile you travel in it.

      The new Accord i-DTEC EX falls into a very reasonable group 11 (of 20) Insurance.

      The 148g/kg CO2 figure is a retrograde step on the earlier cars' 143. Relative to other similar cars on sale though, any figure below 150 has to be regarded as good - only BMW's remarkable 2.0 diesel at 128 improves to any substantial degree on this score. A 2.2 litre Mondeo posts a figure of 165, whilst a (four wheel drive) Subaru Legacy Saloon issues an identical 148g/kg.

      PURCHASE COST 5 / 10

      At £24,422, the car reviewed here is the most expensive Saloon bodied Accord on sale. Theoretically there is a more expensive Accord Saloon - Honda list the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist System) as a separate model at £26,035. Very soon there will also be an optional automatic available on the diesel for the first time; the potential to pay £28,000 for a Honda Accord becomes a very real prospect.

      As far as I am concerned THIS actually proved the critical factor in my own purchasing decision. I paid £20,000 for an Accord with a list price (including optional metallic paint and a "City Pack") of £21,000 in March 2004. A replacement would now set my company back a colossal £25,910.

      Now having closely inspected the new Honda Accord in the showroom and had the chance to drive one, personally I could not justify a near 25% increase in price from the last model to this.

      Honda has very lofty ambitions with their new Accord to elevate it into the "premium" sector (Audi, BMW & Mercedes). It has a premium sector price now, but I, as a current owner, and most drivers of competitors' cars, simply do not view Honda in the same light......

      ...in my case I actually chose the Accord partly for the very reason that it was NOT a premium badged product in the first place!

      In two words, the new Accord range is simply OVER PRICED.

      THE OPTIONS GAME: 8 / 10 or "How much do I need to spend to make it habitable?"

      Fortunately we are not talking about ridiculous "essential" options and prices here as we would be on a comparative £25,000 BMW. The EX GT is a well enough equipped car as standard.

      On the other hand, the car that I replaced my Honda with, a Subaru Legacy RE Saloon has as standard; four wheel drive, full leather interior (the Honda's is only part-leather) metallic paint, electric sun roof, "city pack" (side rubbing strips) all included in its £22,030 list price - that in addition to all of the other standard specification items on this Honda.

      DEPRECIATION 6 / 10 - Always the biggest running cost.

      Sorry Honda, but in over-pricing your new Accord in the first place, you have already set the classic depreciation trap. In order to sell this car dealers will be forced into discounting, which will inevitably hurt second hand values.

      This model is too new for experts to predict accurately its resale value in three years time, but I am prepared to lay money here and now that it will be worth around 20% less than those very premium cars that it has been priced against new.

      FUEL ECONOMY 8 / 10

      The new model is bigger and heavier than the old one, even with a substantially re-developed engine if fails to match the claimed fuel consumption figures of the last model.

      Having said that, a claimed government average figure of 50.4mpg is still pretty impressive, as a direct comparison a BMW 320d will take you 57.6 miles on a gallon of diesel, whilst the 2.2 Mondeo only manages to travel 45.6 miles on the same amount of fuel.

      From my own experience - Honda claimed that my car would travel 52.3 miles on a gallon of diesel, over 96,000 recorded miles it averaged exactly 41.11mpg, to save you doing the maths that is 21.5% short of their consumption claim.

      In reality I suspect that any owner will be lucky to see 40mpg on average from this new model, even though it has a six speed gearbox which my 2004 car did not. Whilst for a car of this size, comfort and performance, 40mpg may be regarded as good, the fact that, in practice, I know it would fall so far short of its manufacturers claims loses it two points here.

      My fuel consumption in the four wheel drive Subaru Legacy, that posts almost identical fuel manufacturers consumption figures, to date has been 39mpg. Exactly what I would expect from the heavier, front wheel drive Accord reviewed here.

      SERVICE & MAINTENANCE COSTS 5 / 10: are you going to make the dealer rich?

      Yes, over the last several years I have rather felt that I was lining the dealers pockets and I have no reason to expect a reduction in costs on this score with the new model.

      Major expenses not incurred with any of my previous cars included brake pad replacement every 25,000 miles - a considerable amount of oil and then a £2000 clutch and flywheel replacement at 89,000 miles.

      If you are used to running an Alfa, BMW, Ford or Vauxhall then expect to pay around 50% more per service on this Honda - although all those brake pad replacements have certainly bumped up the labour charges.

      Part of what you are paying for - at 9 out of 10 Honda dealers at least - is absolutely top notch service. Having discovered that our local (Brighton) Honda dealer were simply incapable of problem sorting, we resorted to visiting Honda's flagship dealer - Chiswick Honda for all our needs. This is a superb dealership by any standards.

      Indeed dealers of that quality fully support Honda's "Premium Brand" aspirations.

      Let the "fun" begin! You want to know what this car is like to live with and to drive and be driven in.......

      THE EXTERIOR:

      STYLING 5 /10: A very subjective category here.

      Woops! Honda used to sell a very attractive car in the Accord, pity that they did not leave it well alone! This, even above the list price issue is what really put me off of the purchase of a replacement Accord. I have to confess that my wife is less averse to the look of this car than I am, but agrees that the last Accord is a much better looking car.

      When I saw the original photographs of this car I could hardly believe that Honda had so badly botched what amounts to little more than a facelift. In silhouette it looks very similar indeed, the window line at the sides is identical to the original car, the overall proportions, although scaled up, are the same too.

      However the devil is in the detail, and the detail styling on this car is very heavy handed indeed - bulging yet flattened wheel arches, attempting to ape those on an S-Class Mercedes, look totally incongruous on this car.

      Worst of all is the rear three quarter view, those wheel arches combined with the very deep and heavy looking rear bumper panel with its multiple and conflicting angles is one of the worst external design features that I have seen on a car in many years.

      In the metal, rather than on the printed page, the Accord from the front, as Doyoo show above, still looks a handsome car, but from any other angle the previous model is vastly preferable - to my eyes at least.

      OVERALL BUILD QUALITY AND FINISH 10 / 10 Does it look as though it was slung together?

      No, it does not, but neither did the last model on the whole either. General standards of fit and finish are extremely high, the gorgeous "Cobalt Blue Metallic" one that we drove had a superbly lustrous paint finish too.

      This is indeed the one area where the Accord is more than well enough qualified to compete with the premium brand cars, which, Audi apart, have rather rested on their laurels in terms of build quality and finish over the last decade.

      SAFETY 9 /10 If it comes to the worst, how well are you and your family going to come out of it.

      My one concern with my last model Accord was its four star NCAP safety rating, in a class of cars over flowing with five star ratings. This test actually takes no account of the dynamic safety aspects of a car, merely its' "crashability" and how well you as a driver or passenger are protected by safety features; airbags, seat belts active - anti-whiplash - head rests etc.

      I would expect this new model to gain a full five star score - as yet I have not seen the test results published.

      However, as far as I, usually the driver, am concerned, how the car actually drives - i.e. its dynamic safety is all important, after all you want to avoid crashing in the first place if humanly possible!

      The new Accord feels like an extremely safe place to be to me, there are no unpredictable reactions to sudden lane-change manoeuvres, or hard braking. As with any other recent Honda driven, the brakes are simply superb, but then you are paying for them by the need for pad material replacement - especially the rear ones - every 25,000 miles!

      THE INTERIOR:

      ERGONOMICS 6 / 10 Before I can start the engine and drive away I need to feel at home in the "working environment". The relationship between the controls and how I, the driver, am able to instinctively operate those controls is, all important. This for me is make or break, before I drive a car, if it does not instinctively "feel" right in this department then I will never like it or ultimately buy it.

      Sorry again Honda, but the new Accord has taken a giant step in the wrong direction here.

      Having said that, the primary controls - steering wheel, handbrake, pedals and gear lever are simple enough to operate and fall to hand exactly where you would expect them to.

      The driving position is an improvement over the last Accord, certainly I found it a less fiddly job to achieve my perfect driving position in the new one than in my own car after, for instance, it returns from servicing.

      The rest of the interior though is a complete and utter mess!

      Honda have gone in for, and undoubtedly won, the "count the buttons" contest in a big way here. Consequently in order to carry out many functions in this car you are going to need a lot of night classes with the instruction book and then STILL have to remove your eyes from the road for far too long in order to find the right button. So bad is the minor control layout that really it should have impacted the safety score above as well as the ergonomic one here. The steering wheel alone is over-burdened with SIXTEEN buttons on the ADAS equipped Accord.

      Worse still is the totally unfathomable central console. This is not a car that you can drive intuitively, OK, as an owner after several thousand miles you probably would eventually become familiar with all those buttons, but the truth is that you should not need to.

      Honda may counter my criticisms here by saying that in providing a voice recognition system, they give you the means to by-pass all of the fiddly buttons, point taken, but unfortunately, having experienced the same system in the Civic, I do not possess the necessary degree in computer science required to set it all up!

      VISIBILITY: 7 / 10

      Whilst the door mirrors are larger and squarer in shape, they only really compensate for the heavier roof pillars, which obscure more of the view. I actually rated my own car as a 9 on this score, which having driven others lately - particularly the Subaru Legacy - I now think was rather generous.

      This is not the easiest of cars to reverse, a high rear window and fall-away boot lid are acknowledged by Honda on this model by the fitment of not only reverse park radar, but a reverse camera, which actually works very well - although it is a strange sensation reversing and looking forwards at a screen mounted on the dashboard in front of you. I guess that it would take time to learn to trust the screen and to get to know its field of vision.

      The latest EX GT model is fitted with xenon head lights, the only Accord so equipped as standard. These offer a notable advantage if, like me, you drive many thousands of miles per year after dark.

      SPACE: 7 / 10:

      There is no denying that the Accord is a spacious car, a family sized five seater inside.

      Two stars are dropped because the last model had more leg room in the back. Yes the new, larger, Accord is less spacious inside than the old model, mostly thanks to the biggest, thickest most space stealing front seats this side of a Bentley Continental!

      The third star is lost to the awkwardly shaped boot. Do the "golf balls test" and it is more accommodating than the old car - theoretically then, Honda can claim a larger boot area. How many people load their boot with golf balls though? And, come to think of it - how do you stop them falling out before you have closed the lid?!

      In practice, due to the many different angles, and a sloping floor, the new Accord's boot is far less practical than that in the last model.

      STYLE 7 / 10:

      If you like the appearance of masses of knobs and buttons in a car, then the interior styling will be very much to your taste. To my eyes at least the new Accord has gone a step too far, in line with the ergonomics; the overall appearance is one of forced style over substance. The dashboard with its central square multi-purpose display and half circular instrument housing is incredibly similar in form to a top-line BMW model, although there it almost suits the Teutonic efficiency of the cars themselves, in the Honda, combined with all those buttons it just looks a mess.

      MATERIALS, FIT & FINISH 5 / 10: Aspreys or Ratners?

      Some of each!

      The problem with Hondas, past and now present, is that the interior materials, fit and finish all appear in the showroom to be much better than they prove to be in use. The Motor Show cars gave some true indication of how one of these cars will stand up to day in, day out use - the flimsy plastic panels on the zero mileage cars on display were already scuffed and scratched. From experience, marks that you would expect to clean off simply do not.

      We also both remarked on the really shabby state of the part leather drivers' seat on the EX GT show car - having been on display for a few days the drivers seat leather appeared puckered and mis-shapen.

      One other, slightly trivial comment here, why on earth have Honda, put a pale beige flock rear shelf (from the previous model) on these cars, which matches neither the pale grey, nor black interiors now available? It looks completely odd and out of place - especially with the grey leather interior.

      I was expecting a lift in quality commensurate with Honda's new pricing and "Premium" aspirations - it simply is not here in terms of interior quality.

      AUDIO & CLIMATE CONTROL SYSTEMS 5 / 10: Strange grouping?

      Both the climate control and sound systems are superb in the new Accord.

      The trouble is that those dozens of confusing buttons that control them are far too complicated to master and many appear to duplicate the same function. Get to grips with the voice command system and you will have less problems operating the two systems - and integrated Bluetooth.

      ON THE ROAD......

      ......Time to start it up and to offer you a driving assessment.

      NOISE, VIBRATION & HARSHNESS 9 / 10 Silk purse or sow's ear?

      This is a very good diesel engine indeed. The original 2.2 litre Honda diesel engine was widely praised both by the press and owners for its smoothness and lack of noise. The re-engineered four cylinder 2.2 is even more petrol like in its driving characteristics, indeed, even on a cold start you could be fooled into thinking that this was a petrol unit.

      However, smoother it may be, but once under way we found it comparatively noisy - especially compared to Subaru's ultra-quiet Boxer Diesel engine. Indeed, driving home in our own four year old, hard worked, diesel Accord we remarked that it was actually no more noisy than the new model.

      There are fewer engine vibrations at all speeds and in all gears than in my original car. The interior is also quieter due to the absence of rattling doors and windows which Honda never managed to cure on my car. Wind noise is also well suppressed, although in the last model that varied greatly from individual car to car.

      PERFORMANCE 8 / 10 Sh*t off a shovel or a constipated tortoise?

      Neither really.

      Just like the previous model, the new Accord is just fast enough to suit any given situation. Being bigger and heavier than the last model, Honda have had to match its extra girth with extra horsepower. The trouble is that it feels like a much bigger car to drive, and in so doing has lost some of the original's athleticism.

      One indicator of a really "good" car is that you are never actually aware; at least the passengers are not, of how fast it is travelling. This is very much the case with this car, deceptively strong, but relaxed performance being the order of the day here.

      The six speed gearbox is an undoubted aid to long distance relaxed cruising, although it is so highly geared in sixth that it can only be regarded as a true overdrive. I am not, by nature, an "automatic" driver, but I can imagine the forthcoming automatic gearbox suiting both this car and its diesel engine superbly.

      RIDE & HANDLING 8 / 10

      Many potential owners, downgrading from a larger car will be more than impressed with the extraordinarily high standards that the Accord sets here.

      And so would I be, had I not been driving its predecessor for over four years - and additionally having test driven two versions of the Legacy Diesel. The Accord has an extremely good ride, at all speeds and on all surfaces. Those huge front seats are also extremely well tuned to the cars' ride quality. There are other cars for the same, or rather less money though - 3-Series BMW and the new Citroen C5 which actually offer a better all round ride quality.

      Where I found the new Accord less convincing was in terms of handling, you can never fully avoid that feeling of driving a rather large and stodgy car, a feeling that I have never had behind the wheel of my 2004 model.

      CONCLUSION - Would I buy one myself and would we want to drive it to Poland in a day?

      No I would not buy one, not new or second hand. Yet, paradoxically, it would make an ideal car to travel, in some comfort and at high speed, to Poland in.

      Sorry, but no, in this case Mr Honda, difficult was most certainly not worth doing, nor was it worth paying a sizeable premium for.

      FINAL SCORE: 118 / 170 - 69.4%


      I would love to have been able to conclude this review by saying that Honda have taken one step forwards and two steps back with the new Accord. That simply is not the case as I failed to find any aspect of this car which actually DOES take a measurable or subjective step forward.

      Add to that the huge increase in price and to be honest I find it puzzling just who Honda think that this car is going to appeal to.

      To rub salt into the wounds here, note also that the original Accord i-CTDi EX is currently in third place on my scoring table with an 80% score - that is no disgrace for a car that has been on the market (and now replaced!) for over four years!

      The new Honda Accord fails here not through mediocrity - it is a good car, if not an advance in so many ways over the previous model - but due to the sheer fact that, when compared to its competitors, it is simply over-priced, and by a margin that I and other current owners simply cannot justify.

      Putting that score into perspective are the following cars based on identical scoring criteria:

      ALFA ROMEO 147 1.9JTD Lusso (5 Dr) - 67.8%
      BMW 320d SE Convertible - 78.8%
      FIAT PUNTO GRANDE SPORTING 130 Mjet - 75.9%

      HONDA ACCORD i-DECT EX GT (2008 Model) Saloon - 69.4%

      HONDA ACCORD i-CTDi (2004 model) Saloon - 80.0%
      HONDA CIVIC 1.8i VTEC SE - 78.2%
      HONDA CIVIC 1.8i VTEC S i-SHIFT - 68.8%
      HONDA CIVIC IMA SE - 73.5%
      HONDA JAZZ 1.4 SE CVT-7 (Automatic) - 74.7%
      SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STi - 72.35%
      SUBARU OUTBACK 2.0D RE - 85.3%
      SAAB 9-3 TiD Vector - 68.2%
      SAAB 9-3 TiD Linear CONVERTIBLE (2007 Mondel) - 74.1%
      VAUXHALL ASTRA TWINTOP 1.9 CDTi DESIGN - 78.8%
      VAUXHALL VXR8 - 84.1 %
      VAUXHALL MONARO VXR - 71.1%
      VW PASSAT TDi 140 S ESTATE - 71.7%
      VOLVO S60 D5 SE - 70.6%

      © Richada / Dooyoo - March 2009.

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