Fleet News

Long-term road test - Honda Accord 2.2 i-CDTi

Honda

Review

It is a tough job, with a range of potentially complicated options for varying vehicle or fuel choice, optimising journey times and avoiding congestion.

But I have a better idea. Just get your drivers to stick out their collective arms and press a magic button.

You can’t miss it. Most fleet cars have this magic button and it could save the industry millions. Just look for the ‘attack costs’ sign, more commonly labelled in fleet cars as A/C, including our long-term Honda Accord.

Most drivers will assume that it just stands for air conditioning, so don’t confuse them by revealing the truth.

I put the A/C button to the test over the past two weeks and just a simple press of this button saw fuel economy jump from an already impressive 49mpg to a heady 51.6mpg – which is supermini territory – albeit below Honda’s claimed combined economy level for the car.

Just to put this achievement into context, our 2.2-litre Accord can hit 62mph in 9.4 seconds and roll on to 130mph.

And I have been using the fantastic engine to its full potential, spurred on by the fact that it doesn’t betray its diesel heritage, instead offering a metallic rumble that never really intrudes into the cabin.

I even spent an aggravating 45 minutes in a stop-start traffic jam which I could have used to achieve even better economy figures, yet still the car has achieved more than 50mpg, all thanks to the air conditioning button being in the off position for much of the time.

A colleague tried the car out for size recently, comparing it to his Audi A3 diesel, and was extremely impressed with the quiet power delivery, against the more aggressive approach of the German model.

He wasn’t too keen on the Honda’s looks at first, particularly the fact the tyres seemed too small in the wheel arches – which I tend to agree with – but he eventually warmed to it.

Also, when he closed the door and it failed to offer the resounding thud of his Audi, he argued that was proof of it being tinny. But as I have argued in previous road tests, lightweight doesn’t mean poor build quality, it just reflects the hi-tech nature of modern engineering.

Another of his gripes that I tend to agree with is the lack of a trip computer to instantly spread the good news about the car’s fuel economy – when you have something this good, why not shout about it?

I told him that this great level of economy has also been achieved despite the car running on 205-width tyres. They are great for grip and making the most of the impressive handling of the car, which noses into corners with confidence, running wide progressively so you can ease off the power to get the front back on course.

However, imagine the fuel you could save if you opted for thinner rubber focused on fuel economy.

You might sacrifice some of the impressive handling, but I bet you would gain a quieter ride at speed (already perfectly acceptable at on the motorway, but I like it really quiet) and potentially nudge towards 600 miles between fill-ups (my best is 593 miles).

If any readers have broken the 600-mile barrier in their Accords, or neared 700 miles, let me know and I will put their names in print and reveal their secrets for achieving economy greatness. However, a word of warning. Although ‘A/C off’ is a recipe for fuel economy greatness, it could also spell disaster.

If you leave your air conditioning off for very long periods, the unit can start growing fungus, which smells (a bit like fish, apparently) and could ruin the whole system, at a cost of hundreds of pounds.

So remember to give yourself a blast of cool air every now and again to keep the system fresh and to ensure your mission to cut costs doesn’t melt into nothing.

I will update you on other drivers’ economy runs in the next road test.

Model: Honda Accord 2.2 i-CTDi
Price (OTR): £19,500
Mileage: 5,764
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: 51.6
CAP Monitor residual value: £6,900/36%
HSBC contract hire rate: £405 per month
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles

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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