Honda’s designers have done a great job in styling what is technically the 8th generation of their international stalwart, the Accord. Using their chisels adeptly they have managed to chip, sculpt and smooth the previous model’s estate variant into an altogether much more attractive proposition.
The new Accord Tourer looks wider, sleeker, sportier and more expensive than the one it replaces. My test car looked elegant, stylish and impregnable in its Alabaster Silver paint job. The sleek and muscular front-end with its dashing spoiler is now complemented by a massively improved rear, which actually looks quite distinct. The rear design and its wide, wrap-around light clusters at the back have got a slight whiff of Insignia about them and especially from the side profile, the latest Accord Tourer looks much more the part. Goodbye slab-bum, hello curvy one.
Thankfully the lower window line is now partnered by a down-sloping roofline, resulting in an overall design that appeals to sports-estate lovers. Honda have fairly recently fettled the new Accord line-up even further, with extra chrome garnish, new grilles, lights and other little details, which all hit the spot very well. Honda have even put thought into the attractive door handles – and it is attention to detail that prospective buyers notice.
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Okay, it’s not a radical-looking car and the face of the previous generation wasn’t ‘broken’ so Honda subsequently haven’t ‘fixed it’ much, but seventy percent of Accord buyers will be from the traditionally more conservative corporate sector and it’s fair to say that quite a chunk of the remaining private buyers will come from the brand’s faithful band of followers. Honda’s press blurb cites the D-segment Accord Tourer’s primary rivals as the Volkswagen Passat, Audi A4 and Ford Mondeo, but I think it’s strong enough in design terms to scalp plenty of would-be Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3-Series buyers, too. I have no arguments with Honda’s E-segment aspirations, especially when you take into account their cars’ legendary reliability record.
The first thing to strike me when I closed the impressively solid door and nestled into the soft leather driver’s seat was the immense feeling of robustness, with a good dash of high quality refinement thrown in too. The driving position isn’t particularly sporty but I nevertheless felt reassuringly cocooned inside the snug but by no means small cabin. The Honda Accord Tourer’s hewn-from-stone external image is reflected on the inside without a doubt, the majority of surfaces and materials being of a high grade, except for one or two disappointments such as the door bins and slightly tacky wood trim. Okay, the Honda might not reflect the Germans’ pedantic pursuit of perfection, but it gives them a very good run for their money in my view. The steering wheel, instrument dials and some other elements of the Accord reminded me of the latest impressive Volvos I’ve driven.
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Some folk may be put off by the myriad buttons on the Honda’s dashboard, but once I took a bit of time to become familiar with them, it became apparent that some of them would always be superfluous to my needs, such as the ‘folder’ buttons – so I simply learnt to ignore such buttons. Even the high quality, voice-activated DVD sat nav with its large display and multiple rotary controls and buttons wasn’t that difficult to get the mastery over with a little bit of effort, even for a typical man who refuses to read instruction manuals. The only system which stumped me was pairing the Bluetooth voice-activated telephone system, which just wasn’t quite as instinctive and obvious to set up in comparison to other systems I’ve encountered.
The specification of this ‘EX’ model was veritably immense. Let me demonstrate. It came fitted with dual zone climate control, heated front seats, a glass electric tile/slide sunroof, DVD-based colour sat nav, premium audio, Honda advanced pedestrian safety, an illuminated and cooled glovebox, a leather multifunction steering wheel, a reverse parking camera, remote keyless entry, USB, 12V and Aux ports in the centre storage console, an auto-dipping passenger door mirror for easier parking and an electric-closing boot – and I have probably still forgotten something!
In terms of comfort, the front passenger’s seat is electrically-adjustable, which is a nice inclusion, and there are plenty of adjustments one can make to the seats, although the bolster wheel didn’t adjust the support effectively for me. The glovebox is admirably large, the central storage compartment is nice and square with a useful USB extension lead, and well done to Honda for incorporating proper door pockets instead of nets. Head and shoulder-room in the back were very good for my two 5’10’ passengers but they did find the door apertures a little narrow, so entering the rear seats was slightly more restricted than in some other cars. Headroom was generally fine although not the most palatial they have ever experienced, and the rear armrest had useful amounts of storage and cupholders.
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There is an irony about this car, though. The clue lies in it being badged a ‘Tourer’ as opposed to an ‘estate’. It might surprise you if I tell you that the saloon version of the latest Honda Accord actually has more boot space when the seats are upright, than this Tourer version. That’s 460 litres in the saloon against 406 litres in the Tourer I tested. Granted, the Tourer offers 660 litres when you flatten the rear seats, and 1,183 litres if you fill the back of the car to the brim. Still, the Honda Accord Tourer therefore offers quite a lot less luggage space than a Ford Mondeo estate, for example. With the Ford you get over 500 litres with the seats erect and over 1,400 litres if you need to carry everything except the kitchen sink. The boot didn’t feel or look particularly small to me though and swallowed our standard, typical weekly shop using only a third of the boot floor. The only other load I carried was a consignment of clothes in boxes. I was impressed by the under-floor storage on offer in the boot of the Honda, the side storage compartments and the button-press boot closing. The boot doesn’t suffer from any kind of lip, so loading items in proved easy, too.
So if you want the bonus practicality of owning a stylish ‘estate’ for occasional load-lugging but aren’t too fussed about its real life stats and figures for everyday use, this does make for a pretty decent choice as far as the interior is concerned.
On the road
It would be a shame if such a solid, classy and fairly practical car was marred by poor handling, but the Honda Accord needn’t worry, as I was impressed by its handling.
First off, the 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel engine is remarkably refined. Honda have gone to town with improving the sound-proofing, and you really can tell. The cabin is very hushed indeed, on the move, making for a nicely relaxed driving experience. Admittedly the engine isn’t going to set any records for potency, with a relatively modest 148bhp and a 0-62mph time of 10.7 seconds – but the actual power delivery was impressively smooth and felt sufficient the majority of the time.
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Most Honda Accord Tourer buyers will likely opt for the manual version, but I particularly enjoyed the automatic, the electronic 5-speed gearbox changing smoothly on the whole, and feeling very well suited to the diesel engine. They are not perhaps the most feisty partners, but work together effectively to create a smooth and refined setup.
Although some people may find the firm suspension a little too hard for their liking, I really didn’t find it too much of an issue, at any speed. To me, it didn’t feel any firmer than say an Audi A4 Avant’s suspension, and the firmness brought with it a feeling of planted-ness, stability and safety. Apart from over very poor surfaces, it coped with speed bumps and potholes pretty well, and road and tyre noise were kept at palatable levels throughout. I liked the large wing mirrors and even they didn’t create any undue noise.
The Mondeo is often cited as the class benchmark and the Honda Accord Tourer’s steering crispness wasn’t quite as excellent, but it wasn’t far off and I was impressed by the lack of body roll during sharp cornering. The Honda really did feel safely chuckable, so brought a sporty element to the drive quality, only perhaps let down by a lack of any drama whatsoever on kickdown. The steering was nicely weighted as well as responsive and the latest Accord’s low centre of gravity and wider track made the car feel planted and stable.
Now, what about its economic credentials? Sticking with the Mondeo comparison, Ford’s 2.2-litre diesel with a 6-speed automatic transmission is 50PS more powerful than the Honda and emits 173g of CO2/km. The Honda I drove has a CO2 emissions figure of 174g/km, so is not the greenest in the class. Ford claim 43.5mpg combined from their more powerful alternative, but it’s not often that cars match the published figures in real life driving. This is where the Honda impressed me, if not on paper but in reality. Honda quote 42.8mpg combined. What did I achieve? 41.2mpg over 250ish miles of mixed driving, so very close indeed, meaning the Accord Tourer automatic doesn’t end up with any egg on its face as far as economy, which is realistically promoted.
The latest Honda Accord Tourer looks much better than the predecessor, with its new found curviness at the rear, along with some lovely styling tweaks. Okay, it may just be a facelift when it boils down to it, but it still looks a classy motor in my view.
Inside, the solid theme continues, paralleled by a decent level of plushness and a huge specification list. It proved a comfy car for four adults, munching away motorway miles and dispatching country lanes with equal ease, keeping me the driver entertained and safe with all its gadgets and technology. The downside is the lack of boot space compared to some of its rivals.
The combination of the automatic gearbox and the 2.2-litre diesel engine worked very well and although the performance wasn’t particularly energetic, the crisp handling, solid ride and remarkable quietness resulted in a very pleasant overall package. It isn’t cheap, this one costing £30,000 in EX trim, but if you want to stand out from the crowd with a good, honest, all-round family car, it’s definitely worth test driving and considering.
© Oliver Hammond
Specification of the ACCORD TOURER 2.2 i-DTEC EX AUTOMATIC tested in this review
Colour: Alabaster Silver
Registration: RE61 NPX
OTR price: £30,365
Capacity (cc): 2199
Type: N22B1 – DOHC i-DTEC
Max Power: 150PS @ 4000rpm
Max Torque: 350Nm @ 2000rpm
Gearbox: Electronically controlled 5-speed automatic
Front suspension: MacPherson strut, coil spring, gas pressurised shock absorber, ARB
Rear suspension: Torsion beam, coil spring, gas pressurised shock absorber, ARB
Turning Circle: 10.98m
Front Brakes: 296 mm ventilated discs
Rear Brakes: 305 mm solid discs
Alloy Wheels: 17×7 1/2J
Tyres: 225/50R17 tyres
Spare: Instant Mobility System (IMS) repair kit
Boot capacity: 406 litres (seats up), 1,183 litres (to brim, seats down)
Fuel tank: 65 litres
Curb Weight: 1,633kg
Max Braked Towing: 1,100kg
Max Speed: 126mph
Extra Urban: 52.3mpg
CO2 Emissions: 174g/km
VED Band: H
Service interval: 12,500
Standard Specification includes (but not limited to):
5 x 3-point seatbelts
5-speed automatic transmission
8-way power assisted driver and passenger seats
17″ alloy wheels
60:40 split folding second row seats
Active front head restraints
Ambient footwell lighting
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Automatic dimming rear view mirror
Automatic headlights with dusk sensor
Blue half shade windscreen
Body coloured bumpers
Body coloured door mirrors
Body coloured front corner & rear parking sensors
Centre console armrest
Driver and passenger vanity mirror illuminated with
lid in sunshade
Drivers memory seat
Driver seat lumbar support
Driver and passenger seatback pockets
Dual front, side and curtain Supplemental Restraint
System (SRS) airbags
Dual zone climate control (left:right independent)
Electric power adjustable and heated door mirrors
Electric Power assisted Steering (EPS)
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
Externally visible Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
Front and rear bottle holders
Front and rear speakers
Front electric windows
Front fog lights
Front seatbelt pre-tensioners
Front seat – three stage heating system
Front ventilated disc brakes
Fuel filler release cap
Glass electric tilt or slide sunroof with sunshade
GPS dual automatic climate control
Heat absorbing tinted windows
Height adjustable front seat belts
High security integrated audio
Honda advanced pedestrian safety system
Honda superlocks (deadlocks)
Hydraulic power assisted steering
ISOFix child-seat restraint mechanism
Illuminated and cooled glovebox
Instant Mobility System (IMS) repair kit
Interior & perimeter alarm (CAT1)
Leather multi-function steering wheel
Leather wrapped gear knob
Motion Adaptive EPS
Organ accelerator pedal
Passenger seatback pocket
Premium 6 CD tuner with RDS
Rain sensing windscreen wipers
Rear centre headrest and 3-point seatbelt
Rear disc brakes
Rear electric windows
Rear screen integrated aerial
Rear seat central armrest
Rear view parking camera
Remote keyless entry
Rolling code ECU engine immobiliser
Side impact protection beams
Speed adjusting audio volume
Standard slat front grille
Sunglasses storage box
Tie down hooks in boot
Tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment
Trailer Stability Assist (TSA)
Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)
Voice recognition DVD Satellite Navigation with Traffic
Message Channel (TMC) and integrated Bluetooth®
Hands Free Telephone (HFT) system
Options fitted to this press car:
Metallic paint: £490