In fact, its value statement made up for the car's lacklustre driving experience and 'rebadged Rover' (or was it the other way round?) stigma. True, the old Accord earned a reputation for never breaking down and turning in a sound price at retail time, but it wasn't a machine that tugged the heart strings, more a straight up and down family car with few pretensions to style or status. Now, however, it's a different story: a new Accord that's all Honda's own, new engines and a brand new platform that promises much in the way of driver appeal.
What's more, the British-built new Accord bears no outward resemblance to other Accords produced for world markets, being designed and engineered specifically for Europe at the Swindon factory. It does, however, share certain key components principally the platform and suspension.
It's available from the start as a four-door saloon only, though a five-door hatch will follow next April. There are three engines, all four-cylinder petrol and fitted with Honda's variable valve timing (VTEC). No diesel is planned. Power outputs are considerably above the class norm: even the entry 1.8 develops 136bhp against an average 115bhp, while the 2.0-litre is good for 147bhp. Both are on sale at launch, while at the top of the range is Honda's 2.2-litre dual overheard cam VTEC unit developing no less than 215bhp at 7,200rpm. Powering the Type-R sports saloon, this derivative goes on sale in January.
Three trim levels at launch encompass S, LS and ES, with all three available with 1.8-litre power: the 2.0-litre is limited to the LS and ES specifications only. A more sporting set-up will debut with the Type-R.
Prices range from ú15,295 on-the-road for the 1.8i S to ú19,895 for the 2.0i ES tested here, enabling the Accord to compete directly with mainstream upper medium contenders such as the Mondeo and Vectra, while retaining enough badge kudos to jockey with BMW and Audi. At this price, the top Accord is ú1,150 less than the much less powerful BMW 318i SE and ú745 less than an Audi A4 1.8 SE - and when specification is taken into account the gulf widens considerably further.