As with countless other models currently botoxed to the eyeballs, the 2006 Accord is not a new car – rather, it’s a 2003 model with all sorts of new bits. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – the Accord has been a favourite with fleets and the public for many years.
We tested the estate, or Tourer as Honda prefers to call it. It comes with a 2.2-litre i-CTDi diesel engine that produces 138bhp and a considerable 251lb-ft of torque. That means 62mph in 9.3 seconds for the Sport model we tested, and a top speed of 132mph. It also returns a respectable claimed fuel economy figure of 47.9mpg.
Honda has undertaken what it calls ‘subtle improvements’ to the exterior, although at a glance it’s hard to see what.
Again, that’s not a bad thing as the Accord remains a car that’s acceptable to the eye.
The changes include a new front bumper and grille to give the car a sportier look, and there are splashes of chrome to be found dotted round the car at strategic points.
The sporty touches continue with side-sill trim that gives the impression of being lower to the ground. Our Tourer also had a spoiler with a third brake light incorporated.
Our car had the standard 16-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels that are new for this year, although thanks to the Accord’s high body sides they still make the car look under-wheeled.
Inside, the steering wheel has been fattened up, although it is still on the slim side, and the instrument panel has been redesigned. The result is a safe one – nothing radical as seen in the Civic, but functional and non-offensive.
Our test car had an electric tailgate operated by a button in the car. The previous Accord Tourer could only be opened at the back by a button on the key fob, so the extra button is welcome. However, it would be nice to be able to open the boot from the boot…
But once the tailgate is open there’s a massive loading area. With the rear seats folded down the Accord offers 1,707 litres of space compared with 1,354 for the Audi and 1,273 for the Saab.
Turn the key and the diesel unit hums into life. Inside the car the engine is quiet, aided by improved sound insulation.
But it pulls well, and the new six-speed gearbox is fine, particularly when cruising for long distances. Drop it down a gear and the torque is impressive, allowing for hassle-free overtaking.
Handling is crisp. The Accord is perfectly happy manoeuvring around a car park or weaving through rural backroads.
There’s no revolution to be found here, but the Accord continues to build on an already strong heritage. It’s a good package for a company car driver looking to munch up miles in comfort.
And as an added incentive, buyers of this Sport version will be given a hands-free Bluetooth telephone package which can be operated by steering wheel-mounted controls at no extra cost as part of a drive to increase safety. Or, for £500, buyers can get a satellite navigation system thrown in which would normally cost £1,400.
Honda Accord Tourer 2.2 i-CTDi Sport
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £20,352
CO2 emissions (g/km): 155
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 21%
Graduated VED rate: £135
Insurance group: 12
Combined mpg: 47.9
CAP Monitor residual value: £7,525/37%
Depreciation 21.29 pence per mile x 60,000: £12,774
Maintenance 2.50 pence per mile x 60,000: £1,500
Fuel 9.38 pence per mile x 60,000: £5,628
Wholelife cost 33.17 pence per mile x 60,000: £19,902
Typical contract hire rate: £432
At a glance
We don’t like
THREE RIVALS TO CONSIDER
THE Accord stakes its claim to the title by being the cheapest to buy. It also has an impressive equipment list, including cruise control, automatic headlights and a powered tailgate. The 9-3 is next cheapest, and bundles in a leather steering wheel, but only 15-inch alloys against 16-inch for its rivals. The A4 is third, but only includes a cassette player as standard. The Jaguar is the most expensive by more than £200.
HONDA’S Accord continues strongly by having the lowest projected service, maintenance and repair costs. A fleet running the Accord over three years and 60,000 miles can expect to pay out £1,500 to keep it on the road over that time. A fleet running the Saab 9-3 over the same period would see that bill rise by £120, while the Jaguar and Audi are both more expensive, costing £1,722 and £1,746 respectively.
A BIT of a hiccup for the Accord here, as it proves the thirstiest of this quartet with claimed average fuel economy of 47.9mpg. Top of the pile is the 9-3, which is the only one of the four to exceed the 50mpg combined mark. Its figure of 51.4mpg means a fleet running the Saab over a typical fleet life of three years and 60,000 miles can expect to pay £5,244 in diesel costs. The A4 and X-type settle in the middle, with figures of 48.7mpg and 48.5mpg respectively.
COMING from a marque with historically strong residual values, the Audi is most likely to hold on to its value. CAP estimates that after three years/60,000 miles the A4 will retain 42% of its cost new, meaning it loses £12,528 over that time. The Honda has an RV of 37%, as does the Jaguar, but the X-type loses more money (£14,040 versus £12,774) because of its higher front-end price. The Saab has a weaker RV at 34%and will lose £13,440.
THE A4’s strong residuals mean it is the cheapest to run over its wholelife, although the gap to the Accord and 9-3 is not huge. The total difference in costs over three years and 60,000 miles between the Audi and the Honda is just £90. The expensive Jaguar can’t compete on cost here, particularly with unremarkable RVs, and will set back a fleet almost £3,000 more than the Audi in running costs over the same period.
EMISSIONS AND BIK TAX RATES
THE Saab’s engine continues to be its strong point. The lowest emissions of the four put it in the lowest benefit-in-kind tax bracket. A 22% taxpayer can expect a monthly company car tax bill of £71.38. A driver with the Jaguar can expect that to rise to £80.63 – more expensive than the Accord and A4 because of its high price, even though it is in a lower tax bracket. The bill for the Honda driver will be £78.35, while the Audi driver can expect to pay £83.76.
THE Audi, Honda and Saab are closely matched on running costs, although the Saab has a clear advantage in drivers’ tax bills. The A4 Avant is certainly the most stylish looking car here, but in entry-level trim the equipment level is sparse. The Saab has a great engine and also looks good, but both models suffer in terms of practicality compared with the Honda and its cavernous boot. Factor in the free technology upgrade and the Accord takes the narrowest of wins.