The third time my beloved WL Caprice was on the back of a tow truck, this time due to a busted coolant hose, I decided enough was enough. I ended up selling it to the RACV repair man who came to tell me what was wrong with it, and thus began my search for a new car. This was very difficult because I would miss the sheer amount of space and comfort, the lazy torque from its engine and whisper quiet travel it guaranteed on road trips.
I remember being very impressed the previous generation Accord Euro that a friend of mine owned and found this beauty online for $20,000 with 86,000km on the dial back in 2014. It’s still my pride and joy and the odometer is now sitting on 142,000km, most of those I’ve put on being trouble free and very enjoyable. The car when I got it was not completely trouble free. It came with a pair of unevenly worn tires on the back and a shuddering torque converter that made acceleration at freeway speeds unnerving. Thankfully my mechanic who specialises in transmissions (service your trannies people!) gave it a full flush, filter change and put in some shudder fixing goo from Russia that totally cured the problem – brilliant!
I remember what impressed me about this car was the impeccable way it drove when trawling through the suburbs or being stuck in traffic, but when you wanted to turn the dial up to ten, you were greeted by impressive handling and a wonderfully characterful engine that loved to be revved. Nearly at 150,000km this is very much still the case, that K24 engine truly is Honda’s masterpiece and that addictive engine note when the V-TEC switches over at around 3500rpm makes it constantly tempting to have a quick getaway from the lights or on freeway on ramps.
Being one of the last Honda’s to come to our shores that was manufactured in Japan, the build quality is truly outstanding. I take very good care of my car, it gets detailed several times a year and the leather is always cleaned and conditioned at the same time. The cabin looks brilliant for its age and is a very comfortable place to spend time in. In terms of connectivity, it won’t impress anyone looking at what newer cars have today. The USB input charges your phone and plays music and it has Bluetooth phone connectivity. It also has a brilliant sound system that constantly gets compliments. Chuck an air vent mount on for the phone and I find myself wanting nothing else.
I found visibility with the high window line a took a bit getting used to, but the Honda has wonderfully big side mirrors (take note Holden & Ford) which dip when reversing to avoid kerb rash with front and rear sensors that make parking it very easy. No, it doesn’t have blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and the various other acronyms but I’ve driven cars equipped with those items and found they made it very tempting to be lazy and generally less precautious behind the wheel.
I’ve taken this car on several road trips – from the Great Ocean Road, to Sydney etc – and its done the east coast from NSW to VIC several times. I find that this car has a wonderful change in personality when you’ve been cruising for several hours in quiet comfort and arrive at the road to Dargo (do yourself a favour), put the transmission in sport and shift using the paddles it simply handles brilliantly for a car that was a comfortable quiet cruiser moments ago. The engine being as engaging as it is makes it very satisfying when you let the revs soar and power out of corners. The steering whilst being electric still has a good level of feel and nice weighting. I do have my regrets not buying a manual as I’ve read many times it bests the automatic in terms of engagement, but when I bought this car I was doing a daily commute to the CBD and didn’t like the idea of dealing with a clutch pedal that frequently.
My main gripes with the car is that cabin space is a bit tight, I’m 6’4 and there’s very little room behind my seat which is basically all the way back and the paint and clear coat seem to be quite thin which has led to it peeling in a few places and it chipping quite easily. I also put this down to lack of care by the previous owner, but thankfully a recent scrape from someone in my tight St Kilda street got me a brand new bumper so they’re no longer the eyesores they once were.
Ownership costs are quite fair, I average about 9.5L/100km that’s with mostly suburban driving and a sometimes heavy foot, on freeway trips however I’ve reset the trip computer and I’ve had the average go to as low as 6.8L/100km on my recent drive to Sydney. Servicing costs can be steep if you go to the dealership, the only time I’ve taken my car to one was for the airbag recall, otherwise I have an excellent mechanic I take it to every 10,000km and a standard service of full synth oil plus filter goes for about $180, the only other things I’ve had done are air con servicing, transmission service, coolant flush and spark plugs.
All in all this is a truly brilliant car, being my second I’ve found no temptation to replace it as its been a very satisfying car to own and with the price I paid for it a true bargain. I’ve recommended it many times to those looking for a car either for themselves or their kids and see myself holding onto it for a few more years at least.