The Honda Accord Euro has a lot going for it – excellent fuel economy, competent performance and involving, sporty handling.
But it also has a downfall so great that for many people, in one fell swoop the car becomes irrelevant. Simply, it has very poor rear space.
If you want to carry anyone in the back seat behind a tall driver, you can just about forget using this car.
Lanky teenagers – nope.
Pre-schoolers in child or booster seats – maybe just (but hell, what a literal pain in the back it is to strap them in!)
Big adults – you’re joking.
Back seat passengers aren’t just squashed for legroom, they’re also placed in an uncomfortable knees-up seating position, with anyone over 1.8 metres tall brushing their heads against the roof. If you adjust the front passenger seat j-u-s-t so, then you can fit a 1.8 metre tall front passenger and a 1.8 metre tall rear passenger. But only just. The tiny rear doors give the game away: it’s like the designers took out 50mm from the wheelbase at the last minute – and all that came out of the back seat!
Jumping out of a well-designed car, the packaging of the Accord Euro can only be said to be poor. Stepping out of the brilliantly packaged Honda Jazz – as we did – and you can only conclude that Honda has completely separate design teams that don’t bother showing each other what’s being achieved.
In a car of this size (4740mm long) and this weight (lowest is 1555kg) there is simply no excuse for space utilisation as bad as shown by the Accord Euro.
So as a family car, forget the Accord Euro. As a car for single person or a couple, people who will only rarely carry rear seat passengers, then the Euro is much more attractive.
We drove both the base model car (called just the Accord Euro) and the Euro Luxury – both in 5-speed auto trans form. The auto Accord Euro costs $34,990 (the manual is $32,990) and the Luxury costs $41,990 (auto) or $39,990 (manual). Above that there is another model – the Euro Luxury Navi that adds navigation and a reversing camera – it costs $3000 more.
The engine fitted to all Euros is a large-ish 4 cylinder – 2.4 litres and developing 148kW at 7000 rpm. Peak torque is at 4300 rpm (manual transmission) and 4200 rpm (auto trans). The engine, that uses iVTEC variable valve timing and lift, is workmanlike and effective – but it’s not one of Honda’s engineering delights. At high revs it sounds strained and harsh, although in normal use it is quiet and refined. It’s the transition from one to the other that’s a bit disconcerting.
Performance in the 1525 – 1605kg car (depends on the model) is fine if you’re prepared to use all the rev range.
The minimum fuel octane is 95 RON; we inadvertently added some 91 RON fuel to one of the cars and the engine could be heard detonating, especially at low revs in tall gears when using small throttle openings. (The other car detonated on the fuel provided in the car by Honda - and then also on the 95 RON we added!)
The government test fuel economy is 8.9 litres/100 across all models (both manual and auto). We achieved 8.3 litres/100km over a wide range of roads and conditions. That’s very good.
The auto transmission uses 5 ratios and features steering wheel paddles as well as the traditional centre console selector. There is no ‘manual’ option on the console selector although there is a ‘sports’ mode. The steering wheel paddles can be used in either auto or sports modes. The paddles are manually operated to select gears, with the system reverting to fully auto gear selection when it senses by the driving style that manual control is no longer required. This system works well, especially when engine braking.
But the auto trans has calibration that is less than perfect. The problem is that in some conditions it will allow the engine to go into too a high a gear too early. This can result in the engine lugging at around 1500 rpm at low road speeds, something that causes a slight boom in the cabin and makes the car feel sluggish.
Ride and handling are excellent. The Euro features double wishbone suspension front and rear, electric power steering and stability control that incorporates some subtle steering correction abilities.
The ride is firm but consistent (few bumps catch it out) and the grip and cornering prowess are right up there with the best in class. The steering is well-weighted and gives good feedback – although with the 225/50 Yokohama tyres on 17 inch wheels (huge 235/45 Michelins and 18 Inch on the Luxury models!), some tramlining can occur. Grip from the Luxury’s higher spec tyres is noticeably improved, and the steering response around centre is sharpened. However, the impact harshness in the Luxury is higher.
(For anyone also considering the larger Honda Accord, either version of the Accord Euro is a vastly better handling car.)
Apart from the rear room deficiencies already highlighted, the Euro is comfortable. The seats are supportive and there’s plenty of oddments space. The lower spec models have (manual) driver’s seat height adjust and the leather-in-all-models steering wheel is reach- and height-adjustable. In the Luxury models, electric and leather seats are fitted for both the driver and passenger; these are even more comfortable than the seats in the base model. The climate control system incorporates two temperature zones and works well. There are rear-of-console vents for back seat occupants and centre console box and glovebox are cooled.
The sound system is identical across all models. The MP3-compatible 6 stacker CD radio uses 10 speakers that include a subwoofer and centre dash speaker. An aux input is located in the centre console box. The system has outstanding sound quality in the $35,000 class of the Euro – and is still excellent in the $45,000 class of the top Luxury model.
All models have six airbags – including full length curtains - and incorporate active front head restraints.
The instruments are poorly designed. The markings are fussy and for some unaccountable reason, the temperature and fuel gauges are slightly rotated, making it certain than everyone will mis-read them. (At one stage we were sure we still had about half a tank of fuel – the needle was at 3 o’clock - but this needle position actually corresponds to about one-quarter. Why design instruments that are sure to be misinterpreted?) In contrast, the centre dash buttons are clearly labelled and logically organised.
On the base model the boot uses an odd, stepped floor covering the full-size spare. Look at the other models and the reason soon becomes clear – the boot was designed for the space-saver spare fitted to the Luxury models. In the cars with the space saver spare, the boot floor is flat and the volume both larger and more usable. (Rather oddly, Honda quotes the same volume for all Euro boots.) The rear seat split-folds 60:40, although the opening is much less than full car width, and a stepped floor results.
After two weeks with Accord Euros, we remain ambivalent about the car.
The Euro is an excellent drive, and has a performance/economy compromise that’s very well pitched. With the larger wheels and tyres of the Luxury spec, the car’s grip and handling are outstanding, and even in the base model they’re very good.
But as a family of two adults and a four year old, we found the car’s packaging constantly frustrating: it literally compromised our lifestyle... However, for a single or a couple who rarely have anyone in the back seat, the Euro makes for a much more compelling case.