The 2.2-litre diesel engine in Honda’s Accord looked a little undernourished on paper – until now. It’s been boosted by 30bhp to a much more competitive 178bhp, and torque is up from 258lb ft to 280lb ft – and spread from 2000-2750rpm. To capitalise on the extra grunt, Honda’s added a new model at the top of the Accord range, called the Type S. We tested it wrapped up in five-door Tourer bodywork.
Not cheap, at £28,195. Worth it?
Well, as it happens, Ford’s top Mondeo estate, the 2.2 TDCi Titanium X Sport, aside from needing a bootlid extension to carry the badge, costs £700 more than the Accord and leaves you without sat-nav. It’s more spacious (something we’ll come to later) but seems just a little, well, common in comparison with the Accord. And I speak as a bit of a Mondeo fan.
Read Honda’s blurb and you’ll find the company citing Audi’s A4 Avant as the competition, in which case the fully loaded (leather, heated electric seats, nav, keyless entry, auto lights and wipers, hands-free phone, parking sensors) Accord starts to look better value.
In reality, it’s somewhere between the two in image terms, and it will hold its value much better than the Ford.
Again, it’s somewhere between Ford and Audi. The dash looks slick and is finished in subtle, soft-touch plastics, with a style that’s kind of mid-Pacific rather than archly Oriental or European. It’s well-made, with snicky, short-travel switchgear, tight and accurate panel fit and a general feeling of durability.
That said, the further down you stretch your fingertips, the cheaper the plastics get, and the leather trim’s a bit smooth and shiny too. The doors slam with a bong and it lacks that feeling of denseness that characterises the best Audis.
And didn’t you say it was cramped inside?
That’s a relative term when you’re comparing with the gigantic Mondeo, though there’s no doubt that the Accord is a little tighter in the back. No, it’s in the boot that you really notice the difference – and it’s not just that the Mondeo estate dwarfs the Accord Tourer on actual volume. The Accord’s load space is awkwardly shaped and suffers serious wheel arch intrusion. Sure, the seats fold easily enough, but this is definitely a lifestyle estate rather than a serious, practical load-lugger. And you’d better be careful how much lifestyle you want to carry about with you, because it won’t all fit.
Fine for luggage, but forget trying to carry a fridge-freezer and stick your bikes on the roof. Then you’ll be comfy up front, thanks to the Accord’s big, supportive seats and its accommodating, multi-adjustable driving position.
It’s the sportiest Accord, so surely it drives well
Certainly does, managing to strike a balance that errs on the side of comfort and refinement rather than outright entertainment. And that seems quite appropriate.
The Type S handles pretty decently, only belying its girth and mass through the tightest B-road twists when it gets slightly floaty. It doesn’t have the world’s most communicative steering either, and a bit more bite on turn-in would improve the Accord’s sense of agility immeasurably. Yet it’s quick to respond and easy to punt along at a lick. Mild fun.
The ride’s pretty good too, smothering most bumps and staying pliant at speed, never feeling too firm around town yet mostly managing to keep body movements in check.
Not the sportiest estate around (although hardly bad in that department), but good enough when the road turns twisty and calm when it’s not.
Honda turns up the wick, fits almost every goody in the book and charges appropriately for it. Couldn’t blame anybody who bought an Accord Type S Tourer: it’s brisk, decently made, reasonably economical and isn’t an obvious choice.
Problem is, by finding a spot above the common herd that’s just shy of the genuine premium bunch, and by being a decent but not awe-inspiring drive, the Accord Type S suffers a touch from blandness. The Tourer’s lack of boot space is a black mark too. This is a likable car, a good car – but not a true great.