2012 Honda Accord Euro six-speed manual – $30,340 (manufacturer’s list price). As tested – $33,335 (with optional 18-inch Modulo alloy wheels and metallic paint).
2012 Honda Accord Euro Luxury five-speed automatic – $40,140 (manufacturer’s list price). As tested – $40,615 (with pearlescent paint).
The Honda Accord Euro is a well-equipped mid-sized sedan with handsome looks, a functional interior and a sophisticated drivetrain.
Every year between 2005 and 2010 the Honda Accord Euro has been in the top three most popular medium cars in the country, trailing the fleet favourite Toyota Camry and the Mazda6.
Over the first six months of this year, however, the Japanese-built Accord with an identity crisis slipped to sixth position, overtaken by the Ford Mondeo, Hyundai i45 and the Subaru Liberty in what has become a seriously competitive segment.
Hoping to freshen up the Euro and give it a sales kick, Honda Australia launched the updated 2012 Honda Accord Euro at the 2011 Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne in July.
The 2012 Honda Accord Euro looks a touch crisper and classier than the model it replaced. The first facelift of the second-generation Accord Euro (launched in Australia in June 2008) benefits from clear front indicators, a more refined two-bar grille and a reshaped front bumper. The rear gets ‘soft red’ (Honda PR speak for ‘pink’) taillight elements and a neat chrome boot-lid strip.
Like most cars in the medium class, the styling is tipped towards the conservative end of the spectrum, and the design is unlikely to grab you instantly. Some will find it a bit busy at first glance, but give it some time and the handsome, angular lines may just grow on you.
Only loyal fans will pick the new satin-finish trim on the steering wheel, interior door handles, centre console and other interior components, which round out the cabin updates.
Prices of the new 2012 Accord Euro have dropped $1150 compared with the previous model. New features across the range include USB connectivity with iPod integration, built-in Bluetooth (replacing the cumbersome A-pillar device), foldaway key and Trailer Stability Assist.
The entry-level model also benefits from automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers, and for the first time the top-spec Luxury Navi gets standard Bi-HID xenon headlights with auto high/low beam and cornering function (which operates at speeds up to 40km/h).
For just north of $30,340 in manual form and $32,640 as an auto, the base model is a well-equipped family car. On top of the new-for-2012 features listed above, the entry model comes standard with dual-zone climate control, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an eight-speaker + two-tweeter audio system with six-CD stacker. Unfortunately, the Accord Euro’s new Bluetooth system does not support audio streaming.
The $7500 leap to the Luxury model will be a difficult one for many families on a budget, but if you can afford the hike, it comes with plenty of benefits. The Luxury adds auto-dimming mirrors, sunroof, front fog lights, HID xenon headlights, eight-way electric heated front seats with driver memory settings, leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Another $3000 gets will get you the $43,140 automatic-only Luxury Navi, which throws in Bi-HID xenon headlights and satellite navigation.
Safety is identical across all models and on par with the competition. Six airbags (dual front, side and curtains) and electronic stability control (Honda calls it Vehicle Stability Assist) headline the five-star ANCAP-rated package.
One of the most disappointing things about the Honda Accord Euro range in Australia is its lack of diversity. There is only one body style (sedan) and one powertrain option (2.4-litre petrol). The Accord Euro is available overseas with both a diesel engine and a wagon body shape, but Honda Australia continues to knock them back for our market.
Alternately, Mazda6, Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat customers can tick the wagon and diesel boxes on the order form. The Subaru Liberty also comes as a wagon, and the Liberty, Toyota Camry and the Hyundai i45 are all available with two different petrol powertrains.
Fortunately, the Honda’s engine is one of its strongest suits. The 2.4-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder petrol engine produces 148kW of power (at 7000rpm). Teamed with the six-speed manual transmission, peak torque is 234Nm (between 4300-4400rpm), while with the five-speed automatic, it achieves 230Nm (between 4200-4400rpm).
The six-speed manual brings the engine to life and turns the Accord Euro into a real driver’s car. It’s $2300 cheaper than the automatic and is a much more enjoyable and involving car to drive. The stubby, sporty short-throw gearstick is a highlight and allows the tremendously refined transmission to slide swiftly between gears.
The automatic provides a much more sedate driving experience. It can be slow to shift down on highway on-ramps and when overtaking, and really only gets going once you’re north of 2500rpm. It’s a smooth transmission, however, and drivers who aren’t put off by less-than-rapid acceleration will be happy with its performance. Those after a little more control can flick through the gears with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which are standard on all auto models and provide quick and obedient shifts. Paddle shifters are also found across the Liberty range and in higher grades of the i45 and Mazda6, but are not available in most other mid-sized competitors.
A combined cycle fuel consumption of 8.5 litres/100km for the auto and 8.7 litres/100km for the manual puts the Accord Euro ahead of its direct petrol competitors in the Mondeo and Camry ranges and around on par with the Mazda6 and Liberty, but a little off the pace of the i45 and the Passat.
Drivers are met with few surprises behind the wheel of the Euro.
The steering is smooth and entirely predictable but offers little in the way of feedback. The electric power steering system lightens up at low speeds for easy manoeuvrability, and while it is direct at higher speeds, it doesn’t give much in terms of weight or feel.
The brakes take a bit of encouragement early in the pedal range but come on with an encouraging sense of urgency when you push a little deeper.
The suspension irons out the bumps on the highway, but has a slightly tighter feel around town when faced with speed humps and potholes. It’s by no means uncomfortable, but the sportier tune just doesn’t match the rest of the car’s dynamics characteristics.
The cabin is brilliantly insulated from engine, road and wind noise, adding to the strong perception of overall refinement.
Getting comfortable in the driver’s seat is easy. All models have manual lumbar support adjustment and plenty of steering wheel height and reach range. Luxury and Luxury Navi models get the added benefit of eight-way adjustable heated front seats, two-position driver memory function and full leather upholstery. The leather gives the cabin a premium feel, although the standard black cloth is still a high quality material. Overall visibility from the driver’s seat is good, but not best in class.
Staying comfortable isn’t a worry either. I spent two hours straight behind the wheel and emerged without any body stiffness. There was nothing but praise from my rear-seat passengers either (one of them six foot tall, the other one a little on the portly side), who both enjoyed plenty of head, leg and shoulder room.
The instrument panel is clean, colourful and easy to read at a quick glance. Buttons on the steering wheel make navigating the various digital trip, fuel use and temperature displays easy. The centre console design is conservative but highly functional, with all audio and climate controls intuitively placed for the driver. The audio system integrates with Apple products for simple folder and track display and selection. The base model is a bit dark and grey, lacking the polished surfaces of the higher-grade models, but there are enough soft-touch plastics to give it a sophisticated ambiance.
One interesting anomaly between the base model and the Luxury spec is the spare wheel situation. In the base model, you get a full-sized spare wheel but sacrifice a flat boot floor. The Luxury models, which come standard with larger 18-inch alloy wheels, offer only a space saver spare, but this means you get a proper flat-bottomed boot.
Regardless, Honda says boot size is unaffected at 467 litres across the range. The boot is the smallest of its key rivals – Liberty (476 litres), Mazda6 (510 litres), i45 (523 litres), Mondeo (528 litres), Camry (535 litres), Passat (565 litres) – although the Accord Euro is one of the shorter cars of this bunch, with an overall length of 4740mm.
Overall, the Honda Accord Euro is a convincing package for the price. The Hyundai i45 and the Mazda6 have cheaper entry points if saving money is your top priority, but neither is quite so well equipped as the base model Euro. The Honda Accord Euro delivers the refinement and quality of an actual Euro car with a standard features list to better its Asian rivals.
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