Classy wagon with a true Euro feel
What you get Specifications
There’s an adage in the motoring business that if a car looks right, then it almost always is right.
There are exceptions, but generally the rule of thumb holds true; and it’s never been truer than in Honda’s Accord Euro Tourer.
Taking a leaf out of BMW’s book where the estate car versions are labelled Touring, Honda calls its station wagons Tourers.
A conscious move? Almost certainly, for even though it’s front-wheel drive and BMWs are exclusively rear-drivers, the Accord Euro has much in common with BMWs, and Honda would like to position the car as a sort of Japanese equivalent of the Munich marque’s masterful machines.
There’s the same sort of attention to detail, the same careful thought about getting the in-car environment just right, the same air of understated but rock-solid class.
The Honda lags behind in terms of straightline power and its front-drive chassis is not as crisp-handling as BMWs’ but the overall impression is highly satisfying.
It has in spades the feel-good factor that you get from driving or riding in a BMW, and that makes the Accord Euro a special car indeed, and the jewel among the Hondas we’ve driven recently.
The Tourer looks sensational, with its rising wedge beltline and tapering rear windows. Prominent wheelarches add to its athletic looks, and our only quibble about the styling is a feeling that the chromed triple element grille somewhat overstates its case.
But the sheetmetal makes a strong impression, giving the car a rakish, no-nonsense look that hints at power and pace.
Well, the power and pace are adequate rather than overtly sporting. The 2.4-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine that is standard across all Accord Euros, regardless of trim level, delivers 148kW at a lofty 7000rpm and peak torque of 234Nm at a highish 4400 revs.
That translates to a 0-100km/h time of around 9.6 seconds and a creditable top speed of 222km/h, all allied to fuel economy of 9.1 litres/100km (Honda’s figure from official testing, though we found around 10.5 litres/100km was more like it in regular running).
So, useful performance if not sensational – though it’s a little quicker than its cheaper station wagon rivals from Ford and Mazda – and delivered with smoothness and efficiency. The engine is generally quiet and refined, though it whoops when the revs rise.
The five-speed auto gearbox is equally efficient, shifting smoothly and unobtrusively, and you can change gears manually using Formula 1 car-like paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
Roadholding on the 17-inch wheel/225 R17 tyre package is excellent, and handling is nicely sorted, and like the sedan, the Euro wagon offers two levels of driving satisfaction.
You can drive it briskly in passenger-friendly mode where it displays impeccable manners, with crisp turn-in to corners, well-controlled understeer, and covers ground efficiently, quietly and comfortably.
Or you can surrender to an attack of red mist and start to really drive the car. It’s a wondrous transformation, with the turn-in seeming to sharpen and the chassis finding a new, richer vein of grip and handling precision.
Generally wagons aren’t as accomplished as their sedan siblings, the greater vertical mass taking its toll, but the Accord Euro comes close.
There is a little more understeer when you’re pressing-on, and the 30mm greater body height over the sedan translates to a little more roll oversteer as the car’s eight settles on the offside rear wheel during hard cornering.
But on a quick blast along the roads we use for our handling assessment, the Euro wagon proved very entertaining and an excellent drive – every bit as enjoyable as the sedan had been.
The seats provide good lateral support during brisk cornering and there’s no need to find something to brace your knee against when you’re pushing hard.
The N grade’s major advance over the L is Satellite Navigation (Satnav), an accessory we’ve seldom thought we’d need.
I do most of my driving in Auckland and, save for sections of that overseas, and to me largely unknown, territory, the North Shore, I have a pretty good knowledge of how to get around this far-flung city efficiently.
I put the Satnav to the test using routes with which I was so familiar that my old Corona can almost navigate itself. The idea was to see whether the Satnav was up to the job.
Like virtually every other aspect of the Accord Euro, it was. The driver’s handbook was missing, doubtless removed by another road tester as a reference while writing the story and not returned to its home in the glovebox.
So it was a matter of making a few stabs in the dark to get up and running with the Satnav. A lot of nonsense is talked about “intuitive” controls in modern cars, but the Honda Satnav truly was. I quickly got the hang of using it and set my departure point and destination.
On the first run, my only quibble with its chosen route was that on the first section it navigated me to a main road where I would have ducked and dived through side streets. But from there on the route it prescribed was identical with the one I use daily – and that route is not necessarily the most popular with other drivers.
The second run found the system making more choices that I didn’t agree with, but it did probably find the most direct and efficient route rather than the somewhat eccentric one I choose to avoid unnecessary right-turns against the traffic flow.
But the best feature was that, unlike some other systems I’ve used, it didn’t start commanding you to “U-turn” every time you deviated from its chosen route. It simply paused, “thought” and recalculated, picking up where you had gone and making changes to its programmed route. It was all very impressive.
The other big difference with the N spec Accord Euro is the reversing camera. It adds another useful piece of equipment to the every-car-should-have-one left-side exterior mirror which swivels downwards to give you a view of your proximity to the kerb when you select reverse.
Like the sedan in its segment, we think the Accord Euro Tourer is an almost no-brainer first choice among mid-sized front-wheel drive wagons – aside from the price which is significantly dearer than Ford’s Mondeo or Mazda’s 6.
It might be argued that you’re buying a car that in many ways, standard equipment included, is a cut above the other two – and with the N-spec you get a lot of kit for your money – but dynamically and in practicality there’s little to choose among the three.
At $54,500 ($58,000 with the Sport pack) the Tourer N is priced well north of the Mazda or Ford; and even the Tourer L, minus the Satnav and reversing camera, is also more expensive than the two key rivals.
If price were the key consideration, the Ford and Mazda make more compelling reasons for buying.
But in all other respects, the Euro Tourer N is virtually a hands-down winner. It looks good, behaves well, has sufficient performance allied with good fuel economy, good build quality and plenty of feel-good factor – a car with strong and defined character and one of the best front-drivers on New Zealand roads.
autotrader.co.nz rating: four out of five
What you get for your money
The Euro N is the top-spec model in the 2009 Accord Tourer (station wagon).
It adds Satellite Navigation, an upgraded trip computer and a reversing camera to the already comprehensive specification of the L. Honda offers no base model S version of the Tourer in New Zealand.
The N has full black-leather upholstery and interior trim and a top-quality sound system.
Exterior mirrors are power-adjustable and heated, and the left-hand mirror swivels downward when reverse gear is engaged to make parallel parking easier. The reversing camera displays the road behind on a dashboard-mounted screen when reverse is engaged.
The windscreen wipers have an automatic rain sensor and adjust sweep speed automatically, and the headlights (Xenon on low beam; halogen on high) have automatic height adjustment, washer jets and auto on/off.
Front foglights are standard and there are front and rear parking sensors.
The steering wheel and gearlever knob are leather-wrapped, and the heated front seats are eight-way power-adjustable, the driver’s containing two programmable memorised settings.
There are alloy-look cabin accents, and the dual zone climate-control air-conditioning has a pollen filter. The glovebox is air-conditioned and can be set to warm or cold.
Central door-locking is remote control, the side windows are power-operated and a powered glass sunroof is standard.
The trip computer gives fuel usage read-outs, displays outside temperature and includes a speed warning.
In the N it also includes a calendar, calculator, conversions and audio management.
Controls for the trip computer, sound system and cruise control are included on the steering wheel, and the rear seatback is 40/40 split-folding.
The sound system has a six-disc, in-dashboard Compact Disc player/changer, has speed-sensitive volume control and is MP3/WMA compatible.
The amplifier is 415 watt and there are 10 speakers, including a centre speaker and sob-woofer.
Passive safety kit includes dual driver/front passenger front and side airbags and cabin-length side curtain airbags.
The doors contain anti-intrusion bars, and there are two ISOFIX child seat attachment points and three child seat tether points.
Brakes have an ABS anti-lock system with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist which increases pedal pressure in crises.
The electronic stability control includes traction control.
Security gear includes keyless entry with remote boot-opener, engine immobiliser, alarm and an interior master door-lock.
Specifications of the 2009 Honda Accord Euro Tourer N
Type. Five-door station wagon.
Engine. DOHC 2.4-litre (2354cc), fuel-injected inline four-cylinder. Variable valve timing and lift. Four valves per cylinder. Drive by wire throttle. Maximum power, 148kW at 7000rpm. Peak torque, 234Nm at 400rpm.
Transmission. Front-wheel drive. Five-speed automatic gearbox with Gear Logic Control. Manual shift function using gear lever or steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Brakes. Front, 320mm ventilated disc. Rear, 305mm solid disc.
Wheels. 17-inch alloy. Full-sized spare wheel.
Tyres. 225/50 R17.
Steering. Speed sensitive electric power-assisted rack and pinion.
Suspension. Front, double wishbone with stabiliser bar. Rear, multi-link with stabiliser bar.
Performance. Top speed, 222km/h. 0-100km/h, 9.6 seconds. Turning circle, 11 metres. Towing capacity, 1500kg braked trailer.
Fuel economy. 9.1 litres/100km (combined cycle).
Dimensions. Length, 4740mm. Width, 1840mm. Height, 1470mm. Wheelbase, 2705mm. Front track, 1590mm. Rear track, 1590mm.Ground clearance, 150mm. Kerb weight, 1524kg. Fuel tank capacity, 65 litres of 95 octane. Boot capacity, 406-672litres.