On the Road

Honda Accord

A touch of safety – and other things: Expensive gadgets were slipped to reviewers of the Honda Accord. But, a few quibbles aside, the new model can easily sell itself

Full disclosure: Honda gave everyone who attended the launch of the new Accord an iPod touch. Now, I don't usually go to car launches because it means accepting business class flights, five star hotel accommodation, three star dinners and gifts such as these from car companies which always seems a little dodgy*, but this was one I could doin a day without, I thought, accepting anything.

But the press lady had pressed the box into my hands before I really understood what I was accepting. In fact, even when I had opened it I still didn't really know what the touch was for (she said it contained the press pack and some photos, and it took me some time to realise she didn't mean literally). In fact it was only until I saw how much they cost in the shops a couple of days later that I discovered how fatally compromised my previously unimpeachable journalistic integrity had become.

So, whatever I now say about the Accord will be tainted by this lavish blandishment. You will just have to decide for yourselves whether to ever trust a word I write about a car again. Here goes: the new Honda Accord is all right actually. Not too bad really. It's OK.

Good things include lots of safety features – it has an amazing "crash mitigation system" that, essentially, says "Oi, watch out, we're gonna crash!" while prodding you in the forehead – interior space, and the usual Honda air of eternal robustness. I am a sucker for a dinky gear knob, too, particularly when allied to such a lovely snickety-snick shift.

Bad things: it looks like it was designed by three different teams on three continents (which it was); the steering is either too light or too heavy, depending on your speed, and the dashboard is an overwrought moonscape of scoops and swoops and multiple surface finishes. It appears as if the knobs and buttons were placed by a sumo wrestler scattering purifying salt across a dojo. It also smelled like a radiator that's just been turned on for the first time after the summer, which was odd.

And in case you think this dreary fence-sitting is symptomatic of my newly bought diplomacy – that I am, in other words, Honda's pretty bitch – I am going to offer the iPod touch as a prize in a quiz. To win, simply answer the following question: The song "I Touch Myself" was a hit in 1991 for a) The Jesus and Mary Chain; b) The Divinyls; or c) Culture Minister Margaret Hodge. The touch will go to the 42,984th person who writes in with the correct answer.

Oh, all right then, I'm never asked.

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