We bought our 6-speed manual CL9 Luxury Euro new in February 2008 – it was one of the last CL9 models left in the country prior to the CU2 (the last, and larger Euro) release. Our Euro is now at ~92,xxxkms.
Initial run-in seemed to take forever – between 2,000 to 3,000kms before it loosened-up. But since then the engine has been a free-revving cracker – and it just seems to keep getting stronger. Tractability has pleasantly surprised me, given Honda’s reputation for zero torque. It will never rival a turbo for low down punch, but has entirely adequate low end response for most situations and offers crisp throttle response at all revs. Above 4,000rpm it comes alive with genuine punch and accompanying Alfa-esque induction note. Unfortunately the VTECH band between 6,000 to 7,000rpm is frustratingly short, albeit offering additional urge and a gloriously manic note.
The car’s worst feature is an abrupt and jerky throttle tip-in and lift off at low speed in low gears. This makes heavy traffic and car parks frustrating. The issue can be driven around by de-clutching at every throttle lift off, but it still occasionally catches us out, resulting in driver and passengers lurching uncomfortably toward the windscreen. This is normal for all manual CL9 Euro Accords, but the auto transmission model's throttle is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to find a cure for our car. But given how much fun this car is in manual configuration, it is a compromise I can accept.
The manual gearbox is a work of art. Short, rifle-bolt shifts with a pleasantly mechanical “clunk-clunk” into each gear. Gearing in the first two gears is quite short, so you get to use the brilliant shift frequently in city traffic. The crisp gear shift combined with the free revving engine results in a satisfyingly spirited driver’s car.
Handling, ride and steering all befit the car’s intended medium sporting saloon role. This is one of those cars which seem to shrink around you and feels immediate and nimble in its responses. Handling prowess far exceeds anything I have thrown at it, remaining neutral and responsive at any speed. Ride is a good blend of comfort and sporting feel.
The Euro is my wife’s daily drive and doubles as our family car. It is, to my mind, an ideal size for our family of four – the boot, the backseat room and seat comfort are ideal for our purposes and at the same time the Euro remains a genuinely enjoyable car to drive, whilst offering outstanding reliability and great fuel economy. Speaking of which, the long term average is a tad over 8L/100kms. This compares favourably to the 10.5L/100km from the Gen3 Subaru Liberty the Honda replaced. The Honda also offers more sprightly performance than the Liberty.
Interior accommodation is fine for our family of four. The heated leather seats are amongst the best I've encountered, with terrific comfort and adjustment.
The six-monthly service intervals are a bit of a pain. I suspect this is a rort by Honda Aust as the handbook specifies 12 month intervals for Asia. Honda Aust justifies the shorter intervals “due to Australia’s harsh driving conditions” which I find hard to swallow. Anyone who has been to Japan knows Australia doesn’t have a mortgage on scorching hot conditions in Summer, heavy traffic, nor snow in Winter. So if 12 month intervals are good enough for the Japanese….
So far maintenance has been limited to a set of pads and rotors all-round. No warranty claims. No drama. It just works. Which, as the ad suggested, is rather nice.
This car really illustrates perfectly Honda’s fall from grace and current lack of direction. With the Euro Accord Honda set out to make a car capable of holding its own against the European cars of the sector and day. I believe they succeeded brilliantly. The CL9 Euro is a focused, versatile and enjoyable car. I look at Honda’s range now and can’t see anything on offer I could say that about. How the mighty have fallen.