It’s all very well talking about 50mpg plus, and more if you switch the air conditioning off, but there is another side to our Accord’s personality.
You’ll notice from the photographs that our test car is finished in Milano red, has a boot spoiler and upgraded 17-inch alloy wheels in a racy graphite colour.
I’ve talked about the barely disguised aggression in the design of the Accord before – like Darth Vader in a bad mood – and this is set off remarkably well by the upgraded wheels.
The Sport normally comes with 16-inch wheels, while SE and Executive models have 15-inch wheels as standard. While standard cars might have a lower P11d price, they just don’t look right on smaller wheels and an upgrade should be considered if only for purely aesthetic reasons.
Our Sport model looks as if it should be in Gran Turismo 4, but evidence has shown that it drinks fuel as if it was rationed.
There is some extra grip around corners, but the trade-off is a little more road noise. Its 2.2-litre common rail turbodiesel produces 251lb-ft of torque from 2,000rpm and, as the revs rise, power continues to be delivered with great finesse to the giddy heights of 4,000rpm.
I recently drove the car back-to-back with the latest high-performance diesel Ford Mondeo. While the Ford’s 155bhp 2.2-litre engine majored on kick-in-the-back thrust, the Honda was almost as swift but with much less noise.
The engine is barely audible at normal speeds and is muted even at higher revs. All right, the Honda doesn’t have the same engaging steering or surefooted composure of the Mondeo, but it’s a tempting all-round package for those who want the quality of a premium car with lower running costs.
A recent run from Peterborough to Ashford and back put a temporary end to the Accord’s 50mpg days, with barely two hours journey time each way.
Still, fuel consumption in the high 40s mpg is not to be sniffed at in a car of this size and with this performance.
Many manufacturers feel the need to offer six-speed manual transmissions in modern diesels, with the result that lower revs on the motorway lead to lower noise levels and better fuel consumption.
However, the downside is that you seem to be forever changing up and down the gearbox.
Honda believes five cogs to be sufficient and the remarkably quiet motorway performance and excellent fuel consumption are proof that the company’s new diesel is a class act.
Honda Accord 2.2 i-CTDi Sport
Price (OTR) £19,500
CO2 emissions (g/km) 143
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer) £53 per month
Insurance group 12
Combined mpg 52.3
Test mpg 41.3
CAP Monitor residual value £7,000/36%
HSBC contract hire rate £390 per month
Expenditure to date Nil