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Honda Accord 2.0 i-VTEC Executive auto - 7,850 miles

Honda

Review

PEA green may have been an OK colour for the owl and the pussycat's boat, but it doesn't exactly show off our Accord in its best light. I wouldn't choose it – it is too insipid.

And while on the question of choice, I definitely wouldn't opt for the automatic gearbox. Having an Accord without the manual shift is removing one of the very best bits of the car and replacing it with something far less impressive.

There's something about the fully automatic mode that just does not fit with the high-revving i-VTEC engine, and just when the engine is screaming with metallic joy, in comes the slurred gear shift. It's perfectly smooth but feels alien when allied to an engine which really isn't about lazy low-down torque.

Also, the kick-down is incredibly sensitive. Driving at 70mph in a very tall fifth gear, you only need to push the pedal down a centimetre and it drops into fourth.

Having said that, I've been using it in the sequential shift mode which seems to suit the engine's characteristics much better. The car stays in the gear you have selected until the needle has almost dropped off the rev counter.

I found myself driving round town in third or fourth at barely tickover, but the engine did not grumble at all and I wouldn't be surprised if the fuel consumption, already a healthy 36.2 mpg, gets better.

So, apart from the fact the driver's seat will not go quite low enough because of a very thick and soft seat cushion, there's nothing much else to moan about with the Accord. What especially stands out is the first-class build quality – details like the thick, chunky door handles leave anyone with the immediate impression of quality.

The Accord is a fairly tall-bodied car and looks heavy around the rear wheel arch, particularly when it is fitted with our model's small 15-inch wheels and tall tyres. But if you are a driver who is more concerned with comfort than looks, this is the set-up to have.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (40% taxpayer): £152 per month

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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