VIDEO: High on ability and loaded with feel-good factor
What you get Pricing VIDEO
Feel-good factor is one of the key elements that sets great cars apart from the herd.
It’s something that is almost taken for granted in BMWs, for instance. Though many people buy the Munich firm’s cars for the prestige the name carries, the blue and white badge and the status that it embodies is almost superfluous.
What sets BMWs truly apart is their feel-good factor. When you’re driving them, you feel good and know you’re in a car that, generally-speaking, is a cut above the rest. There are exceptions of course; not even as accomplished a carmaker as BMW can get it dead-right every time.
But generally, BMWs are steeped in feel-good factor. It’s subjective, an emotional response, but it’s also a result of careful design, careful choice of materials, carefully-honed driving manners and crisp performance.
The elements that make you feel good about driving or owning the car are elements that have been engineered into the car. The care the engineers and designers put into the car influences the way the driver and occupants feel about and react to the vehicle.
Drive the 2009 Honda Accord Euro for any length of time and you’ll be struck by its feel-good factor.
You sense that this is a car that stands out from the bunch, a car on which a great deal of care and thought has been lavished, a mainstream sedan with more than a touch of the sort of thing which sets BMWs apart.
The test car was the middle-of-the-range L, which adds luxury items like leather to the solidly-engineered and capable S base model.
There’s one mechanical spec for all 2009 Accord Euros. They all have the same twin camshaft 2.4-litre engine, all producing identical outputs – 148kW of maximum power at a heady 7000rpm and 234Nm of peak torque at 4400rpm; 200Nm is available between 2000 and 7000rpm.
The only powertrain choice comes in the S which offers a six-speed manual gearbox option; a five-speed automatic gearbox with manual function operated by steering wheel-mounted paddles is an S option and standard on the L and the range-topping N.
The engine is a little raucous on start-up, with a note that makes you check when you’re at the gas station that it takes petrol not diesel.
But it is, indeed, a petrol engine, running on 95-octane or above.
At cruising speeds the engine is near-silent, and it provides brisk performance – expect mid-eight second to nine second 0-100km/h times – and good punch for open-road overtaking.
The automatic shifts smoothly and selects its ratios using Gear Logic Control which assesses gradients, cornering and engine speed and tailors the shift pattern to individual drivers’ styles.
Our only complaint was a tardiness in kick-down with the auto in Drive mode. If you’re looking for the optimum downshift when you’re pressing-on, you need to select Sport mode.
Handling is well-sorted and the 225/50 tyres provide strong grip. Accord Euro handling is biased towards understeer, but not obtrusively-so and the car has great handling depth.
Drive it moderately and it feels benign and cruisy, but push harder and a whole new world opens up. In fact, the harder you drive it, the better the car feels and the more you appreciate its agility and high level of roadholding.
The electric power steering offers good feel and is accurate; turn-in to corners is crisp and precise, especially once you start pressing-on. It’s a car you’ll enjoy piloting for a family drive and which will reward you immensely on a stops-out open road blast.
Pushed hard, the car will flow seamlessly from corner to corner with never a hint of getting flummoxed, and you soon settle into a rhythm.
Ride is good, firmish but never uncomfortable, and the well-shaped front seats provide good lateral support and are comfortable on long runs.
Honda quotes overall fuel economy of 8.6 litres/100km for the Accord Euro auto and that seems eminently achievable.
Often such figures are far more frugal than you’ll ever achieve in the read world, but we got an overall read-out of 9.1 litres/100km in driving that was more skewed to city running and included some fairly fierce open-road driving on demanding roads.
The cabin is nicely finished and the use of alloy-look silver accents gives a nice counterpoint to the black leather upholstery and trim.
The overall effect is thoroughly contemporary and understated. Instrumentation is clear and easy to read and the controls are well laid out.
In L guise, the Accord Euro is well-equipped and has pretty much everything you need. The upscale N’s standard satellite navigation and reversing camera would be nice to have but you can make do without them and save yourself $3100.
Nice touches on the Euro include the passenger’s side exterior mirror which swivels down when you engage reverse to help you judge the distance between the car and the kerb more accurately.
The luggage boot is spacious and the full-sized spare wheel is stowed under the boot floor.
There’s dual control air-conditioning for the front seat occupants, and the standard audio system – 10 speakers including a sub-woofer – produces high quality sound.
The Accord Euro plays in a tough market segment in which there is formidably-accomplished opposition, notably Mazda’s 6 and the Ford Mondeo and with the long-overdue upgraded Mitsubishi Lancer knocking on the door.
The choice among the Ford, Mazda and Honda is a near-impossible one, and will come down to personal preference or prejudice – or to price, where the Honda generally carries a premium though you’d need to carefully analyse specification and equipment levels among the cars. Ford also offers a diesel Mondeo which may attract some buyers.
As cars, the three are almost too close to call without running back-to-back tests and the all-new Lancer is also starting to look a contender to turn it into a four-way fight.
We could find little to grizzle about with the Accord Euro L, but there are one or two annoying features.
First is the reluctance to kick-down quickly enough in Drive, and second is the reflection off the in-dash information display screen in some lighting conditions, where it’s near-impossible to read.
But overall the experience was extremely positive and the Euro L has feel-good factor in spades. For $45,700 you get an accomplished car that is thoughtfully designed and well-equipped.
autotrader.co.nz rating: four-and-a-half out of five.
What you get
The Euro L is the middle model in the 2009 Accord four-cylinder range, with added luxury over the S base model.
The L lacks the Satellite Navigation, upgraded trip computer and reversing camera of the top-of-the-line N.
Still, specification is comprehensive, with 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 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 read0outs, displays outside temperature and includes a speed warning.
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.
2009 Honda Accord Euro L pricing
Honda’s no-haggle price for the Accord Euro L sedan is $45,700.
Ordering the Sport package lifts the price to $49,000.
The Sport pack includes front and rear sports-style bumpers, side skirts, sports-look grille, sports-style foglights in place of the standard units, and a choice of wing or ducktail rear spoiler.
Three-year, unlimited kilometre body and mechanical warranty, including 24-hour, seven-day, roadside breakdown and collision assistance.