I wrote a review on my first car, a 2011 Mazda 3 Neo (review was posted as a 2010, my bad) last year, and spoke to its positives. I got a good deal on it, and after a year and a half of ownership and 20,000km put on it, I managed to sell it for more than I paid. Don't get me wrong, it was a good car, but having driven my parents' Falcon for a few months prior to buying it, I longed for something that had more power and less road noise, and its middling fuel economy wasn't enough to get me to stay.
In searching for the Mazda's replacement, I test-drove a Toyota Aurion after reading a number of reviews praising its smooth engine and transmission combination. But I was left feeling uninspired by its unwieldy steering and wooden brakes, along with the fact the seller had left it sitting for three months prior to the test drive. Pass.
More searching and review trawling led me to the Honda Accord Euro, with period reviews praising its high quality and all around competence. I picked up my 2011 example (2012 upgrade) for $9000 with 110,000km on the clock and half a year's rego remaining, which I feel was a good price given that the previous owner had just done a $900 service the week prior. Surprisingly, it costs me, an 18-year-old male, no more to insure than my Mazda 3. I have now had the car for almost three months, and feel as though I know it well enough to write an informed review.
I was pleasantly surprised by the way it drove on the test drive, and to this day still enjoy jumping in and taking it for a spin. The steering, while not as great as my Mazda's was, has a good weight to it, and despite being largely devoid of road feel, is engaging enough. It does have a tendency to be a bit twitchy at highway speeds, but nothing unbearably unpleasant.
The ride, while firm, is very comfortable. I suspect the higher-spec models with lower-profile tyres may be less so, but the 60-profile tyres on mine prove to be sufficiently compliant. Body roll is present but kept to a minimum. The car does have a tendency to understeer, as expected for a FWD car, but it's not atrocious. The torque steer is also not horrific for a near 150kW FWD car.
The 2.4-litre K24Z3 engine is a real gem. My biggest gripe with it is the lack of lowdown torque. This can be irritating, especially with the manual transmission, meaning you need to give it a bit more welly to get going from a stop. But once you're moving, the engine revs sweetly up to its 7000rpm redline. VTEC kicks in after 6000rpm, but the engagement isn't especially noticeable, unlike in some videos of Hondas I've seen. The throaty exhaust note isn't too unpleasant for a four-cylinder either.
The six-speed manual transmission is sweet too. The throws are short and the shifter has a nice weight to it. Sixth gear isn't ideally placed, however, and I have accidentally shifted from fifth to fourth instead of sixth on a couple of occasions.
Styling is not high on my list when it comes to purchasing a car, but I must say Honda did a good job retaining the charm of the first Euro in going to the second. It really was a case of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', but I feel Honda did a decent job. Yes, it's chubbier, and I think the rear of the original is a little nicer, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and even today it still looks sleek and modern.
When it comes to safety, this car ticks all the boxes. The requisite six airbags and stability control gave it a five-star ANCAP safety rating. It does miss out on the collision avoidance aids present in newer cars. The seatbelt reminder chime is irritating, but the dashboard display of who's wearing their belts in the back is good for a P-plater who risks losing their licence if any occupant is found not wearing their belt.
Features-wise, this is the base model of a car that essentially came out in 2008, meaning it isn't as up to date as even the most basic hatchbacks of today. Happily, my car is the 2012 upgrade, meaning it came with a bunch of extras over the 2011 base model, such as rain-sensing wipers (in addition to already standard auto headlights), rear parking sensors and Bluetooth telephony.
The first of these three extra features works a treat. Due to the rising belt line, rear parking sensors are a must. This was something I really disliked about my Mazda: despite being a small car, it was always very difficult to gauge when to stop when reverse parking. I also love how the Euro's passenger mirror dips when reversing to help see parking lines – very handy.
The Bluetooth system leaves a lot to be desired, however. It's telephone only, which means no audio streaming, and the microphone quality is poor. While it's easy enough to set up, it's not particularly quick to pair, meaning I just stick to the AUX input. The USB port also doesn't seem to like Android phones either (and who the hell uses an iPod these days?), but it's convenient for charging devices.
Cabin comfort is mostly positive. Up front, the seats are great – wonderfully supportive with good side bolstering that may not be appropriate for more portly individuals (after all, this isn't the American Accord). The driving position is spot on – this is a car you sit in rather than on. The gear shifter is well placed, and the adjustable position of the centre armrest is handy. Controls are well laid out, and the subtle damping of the indicator stalks and storage bins help give credence to the notion that this car straddles the mainstream and premium segments.
The doors close with a satisfying thud, and overall the cabin feels like a step up from other mainstream brands, even on my girlfriend's 2015 Camry. Road noise is low, and certainly a blessing to my ears over the Mazda 3 I owned. There is a bit of tyre roar given the larger 17-inch wheels. When it comes time, I'll replace the tyres with something quieter.
The cruise control seems to be a little more aggressive in resuming the set speed than other cars I've driven, for better or worse. Automatic windows all around are a nice touch too. The dual-zone climate control works well enough, and it's nice to see Honda included a pair of rear air vents.
I'm not an especially tall guy (5ft 9in), and I can sit behind myself in the back seat with a decent amount of comfort. Leg room and foot room are a little tight, and my 6ft friends would rather ride shotgun than in the back. Head room is only passable for taller people as well.
Boot space is decent, but the convenient full-size alloy spare robs it of a flat load floor. Folding the rear seats also requires two steps – opening the boot to release the latches, and then folding them down from the rear doors since the release doesn't push them down. The aperture of the rear seat pass-through is also somewhat narrow.
In terms of ownership, this car has given me no troubles so far, nor did it give any hassle to the previous, original owner. The only thing wrong with it at present is the shifter cap sometimes likes to come off in my hand. Besides that, the quality of this car is high, and I feel it should give me no major trouble in the future.
Servicing for these cars is not the cheapest, but preventative maintenance is the key to years of worry-free motoring I suppose.
I'm less than entirely impressed by the Euro's fuel economy. Around town I get 11–12L/100km, which may be typical of a family-sized sedan, but I expected better from a four-cylinder. It also doesn't help that the lovely engine demands 95RON petrol at a minimum. Highway economy is good, however, as I've seen it below 8L/100km with two occupants and luggage. Strangely, sixth gear is not very tall – it's turning 2750rpm at 100km/h, which is the same as my Mazda 3 at that speed. I feel highway economy would improve with a taller sixth gear, perhaps at the expense of instantaneous power.
Overall, I've been more than pleased with this car. Value-wise, I cannot complain with the deal I got. The engine is a real peach, and I couldn't see myself going for the auto – the manual makes it that much more fun to drive. Cabin ambience and quality are great, but the car is let down by aged 'infotainment', a small rear seat, middling fuel economy, and its penchant for premium petrol.
I would recommend the Accord Euro to others searching for a car that's good to drive and well put together, if you can stomach the higher than average running costs.
I think you can see what I value in a car given my purchase history. It's a shame Honda ended the two-prong Accord strategy, but ultimately that's not surprising. Sedans, and anything that isn't an SUV for that matter, are going the way of the dinosaur. I feel very fortunate to be living my youth in a time when I can affordably drive an engaging, stylish and reliable sedan.