Fleet News

Honda Accord 2.0 Executive - 13,556 miles

Honda

Review

THE Fleet News long term road test schedule normally runs like clockwork. Each tester drives a car for a month and then on a day appointed by road test editor Simon Harris, everyone swaps over. That way, we all get to give our assorted views on each car on the fleet.

However, at Christmas time it all inavariably goes to pot. One tester wants a big MPV to cart his family about, another wants a sports car to show off in and someone else requires an economic vehicle for some high-mileage relative-visiting. It is difficult enough with eight cars – imagine what it must be like for a poor old fleet manager with 1,000 vehicles.

The upshot of our latest yuletide schmozzle was that I ended up behind the wheel of our Honda Accord for an unprecedented second session – and believe me I wasn't complaining.

For of all the upper-medium cars I have driven in the past five years, the Accord must rate among the best, if not the best. It's a curious thing because there is no one area I can put my finger on where the Accord excels. It isn't the best handling vehicle in the sector, it isn't the best specced (no satellite navigation for a start) and it certainly isn't the most economical.

But as a sleek, stylish, comfortable repmobile, the parts have come together to form a sum which is far greater than their total, as the old adage goes.

In the old days, the Accord (and its twin brother the Rover 600), used to be head-to-head against the likes of Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Vectra.

But with sales falling in this all-important sector, Honda made the decision to move the car upmarket and compete with the likes of the Audi A4, Saab 9-3 and Volvo S60. This fresh model was launched last spring with a stylish new exterior, executive cabin feel and a set of engines starting at 2.0-litres – and of course a price increase.

So has the makeover worked? Well, yes and no.

It's all very well telling everyone you've gone up- market but they won't necessarily believe you – or indeed buy your new upmarket (and more expensive) offering. Anyone who has climbed aboard this car will be left in no doubt that it competes well with its new opposition and if it was my choice, it would be number one in the afore- mentioned list.

But user-choosers are fickle beings and as this car has a Honda badge on the front, they may still dismiss it as the volume player it always used to be and not even bother to give it a test drive.

It's a terrible predicament to be in and one I don't profess to have an answer for.

When Toyota wanted to go upmarket, it solved the badging problem by inventing a new marque – Lexus.

It worked a treat, but it's a damned expensive way of doing it.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (40% tax-payer): £165 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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