The Honda Accord Euro has been a staple of the mid-sized segment for more than a decade.
Its definition of diversity – at least in Australia – may be similar to that of Ron Burgundy’s (there’s no diesel, no hatch, no wagon), but the four-cylinder petrol sedan has regardless established a strong following based on its mechanical sophistication, interior quality and decent value.
The second-generation Honda Accord Euro is now five years old, making it one of the older contenders in the class that’s headed by the freshly launched Mazda 6 and dominated in the sales race by the locally made fleet favourite, the Toyota Camry.
Oddly, the $32,640 starting price for the entry-level Accord Euro automatic tested here is currently almost $4500 more expensive than the full-size Accord sedan that’s due to be replaced by mid-2013. Opting for the excellent Euro manual base model cuts $2300 from the price of the auto.
The Euro features a slightly more powerful tune of the 2.4-litre engine that is shared by the duo, producing 148kW at 7000rpm and 230Nm between 4200-4400rpm. Requiring premium unleaded, combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 8.5 litres per 100km.
In typical Honda style, it’s a sweet engine, delivering power progressively and remaining remarkably quiet and refined in the higher regions of the rev range. Beyond 3500rpm is where the engine’s at its best, as it lacks the low-down immediacy of the 2.5-litre fours in the Mazda 6 and the Toyota Camry.
It forms an impressive partnership with the five-speed automatic transmission, which, despite being one or two ratios shy of many of its newer rivals, proves that having fewer gears doesn’t necessarily translate to poorer performance. Shifts are well timed and confident, with the transmission unafraid to exploit the engine’s smooth top-end by shifting down early and hanging onto gears.
There’s an engaging keenness to the steering, too, the Accord Euro’s wheel responsive from the straight-ahead position, and offering nice consistency as well as decent weight through corners.
The ride is solid around town, remaining comfortable over typical suburban roads and negotiating bigger bumps and potholes without causing aural or spinal discontent.
The Euro’s ride is at its least convincing when confronted by country roads, where it wallows over undulations, disturbing cabin comfort. Out here is where it is most clearly shown up by the brilliantly precise and settled Mazda 6.
Another area the Honda Accord Euro trails the 6, and indeed most of its rivals, is rear-seat accommodation. The 4.74m Honda is 125mm shorter than the Mazda both in terms of overall body length and wheelbase – the result being tight legroom for back-seat passengers. Rear headroom is decent, however, and the seats are comfortable, with a well-angled base.
The front seats are brilliantly supportive, and even more comfortable in the higher-spec Luxury variants that feature leather and electric-adjust controls.
The Euro’s 467-litre boot is 29L larger than the 6’s, however, and comes with the added bonus of a full-size spare alloy spare (base model only). The Accord Euro’s 60:40-split rear seats fold forward to expand load length and volume, although there are release levers in the boot only, not in the cabin.
The Honda Accord Euro’s interior finish is a highlight. Benchmark attention to detail means every panel fits together snugly without gaps. Soft-touch plastics are uses across the surfaces commonly brushed by your hands, while the hard plastics have a quality feel, and the buttons and dials a similarly pleasing tactility.
While there’s no trendy colour screen, the layout of the dashboard is clean and user-friendly. All models get an eight-speaker audio system with six-CD stacker, AUX/USB inputs and Bluetooth phone connectivity (not for audio streaming though), as well as cruise control, dual-zone climate control, and auto headlights and wipers.
The Euro’s safety package trails the segment leaders but features the fundamentals, including six airbags and electronic stability control, earning it the maximum five-star rating from ANCAP.
Honda Australia does not offer capped-price servicing, although a Sydney-based dealership confirmed the average cost of maintaining an Accord Euro for the first three years or 60,000km of ownership (six-month/10,000km intervals) is $2001, with the sixth service the most expensive ($460). That makes it roughly $150 dearer than the Mazda 6 to service over the first three years, and significantly almost $1500 more than the Camry, whose nine-month/15,0000km services are capped at just $130.
Like all Hondas, the Accord Euro is covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty.
While the rear seat is tight and its ride over country roads trails the best in the business, the Honda Accord Euro’s refined drivetrain, engaging dynamics and general liveability make it an attractive option alongside newer rivals in the mid-sized sedan market.