Fleet News

Honda Accord 1.8 LS - 5,400 miles

Honda

Review

##hondacc.jpg --Right##BANK holidays bring out the best and worst of a company car, a time when the daily fleet slog is temporarily replaced by more family-oriented travel. In these altered circumstances the success or failure of a car depends on its flexibility to cope with several different demands. If you're stationary in a motorway traffic jam under the first sun of the year, then a decent air conditioning system is essential, and here our long term Honda Accord scores well.

If you're stuck behind a slow moving convoy of caravans, the ability to accelerate sharply is a precious commodity and one which the Honda's V-Tec engine has in abundance. Unfortunately, this urgency does not appear until relatively high in the rev range, and it takes a very different driving style to keep an engine ticking over at 4,500rpm. Quicker performance lower down would be welcome, but I'm not sure what this would do to the Accord's fuel bills, given that its current 34mpg is no better than average for the sector.

Where our Accord really does fall down in its bank holiday duties, however, is in the lack of flexibility which goes hand-in-hand with a four-door saloon format. Trips to gardening centres and DIY stores on Easter Monday already qualify as one of life's distress journeys, and trying to squeeze awkward-shaped loads into the Accord makes them even worse. The boot may be a good size, but height and access are sometimes more important criteria than volume, and it takes meticulous planning to transfer a trolley load of purchases into the saloon, while all around hatchback and estate drivers are just throwing open their boots and chucking in everything with the kitchen sink.

The pay-off, of course, is the cleanliness of a saloon's lines compared to the compromise outline of a five-door, and in its new incarnation the Accord has begun to look German. It's worth pointing out, I suppose, that the absence of a hatchback from BMW's range has never hindered its sales. The Accord's interior also has a European feel - aside from its awful, fiddly stereo - and once again the bean-counters have not stopped Honda's engineers from introducing some thoughtful touches.

The ignition, for example, is illuminated so it's easy to find the keyhole at night; there's an additional boot lock by the petrol cap release; and the left footrest for a driver is perfectly angled. It's these little touches which can make a car a pleasure to live with, and if you're confident that the only loads you will ever carry - passengers aside - are flat regular shapes, then the Accord deserves serious consideration as a well-engineered alternative for the discerning user-chooser.

Jonathan Manning

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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