The Accord. Been around a while now, hasn’t it?
Yep, that’s right. The seventh generation Honda Accord has been around since 2003, and it’s been popular all that time thanks to its sharp looks, precise build quality and a range that includes a diesel and an estate. There’s little that’s radically new about the Sport GT. It’s aimed directly at the fleet market and combines some of the equipment and trim of luxury versions with sports suspension and Honda’s 2.2-litre CDTi turbodiesel. Cosmetic tweaks extend to dark chrome door handles and front grille, attractively menacing graphite-coloured 17-inch alloys, a bootlid spoiler and smoked headlamps. There’s also an exclusive (optional) White Pearl paint finish. All of which means the Sport GT looks pretty slick, rather as an S-Line Audi looks sportier than the standard model without making promises it can’t keep. And, in spite of its age – the Accord is old by Japanese life-cycle standards – the Honda’s basic outline is still fresh and contemporary.
I take it the inside story is more of the same ?
The ‘sports’ theme is taken care of with some carbon-effect panelling on the dash, centre console and door trim. The big story is more to do with the equipment level, which includes a voice-activated sat-nav system, Bluetooth telephone connectivity, premium audio with an in-dash six-CD changer, plus cruise and climate control. That’s a decent tally for a largish 20-grand saloon. Think BMW 320d and you’d be looking at the thick end of £10k more to match it.
Does the Accord Sport GT live up to the name?
That depends on your expectations. Honda makes a VTEC-powered Type S for those who seek revvy thrills. The Sport GT is equipped with a refined, languid, torquey and long-legged diesel powertrain. Combine that easy thrust with the poise and balance afforded by the tuned suspension, and GT is definitely along the right lines. There isn’t a huge amount of steering feedback, and the suspension is still on the soft side, but it feels like a stable platform from which to work, it’s quite supple and smooth, and it can actually entertain on twisting roads. Unfortunately, that suppleness gives way to an omnipresent rumble through the seat on coarse motorway surfaces. While you’re cruising you might also notice flawed dashboard ergonomics (the screen-based air-con controls confuse the most), some plastic mouldings that feel solidly hewn yet cheaply finished, and speakers that aren’t up to the task of transmitting all the stereo can pump through them.
The Accord is something of an unsung hero, and the Sport GT makes the most of its many virtues. The price, spec and carbon emissions make a lot of sense for fleet managers. It looks good. It’s an enjoyable drive. In terms of interior space it’s trounced by the Volkswagen Passat and the Ford Mondeo – and the big Ford pips it on driving fun too. But the Honda is more exclusive, it’s refined, distinctive and well-equipped too. If it cropped up on my user-chooser list, I’d be tempted.