Honda Accord Type S - The Verdict

A fine drive, solidly built, but the badge lacks glamour

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Price: £19,100;
Engine: 2.4 litre, four cylinder 188bhp;
Performance: 141mph, 0-60 in 7.9 secs, 31.4 mpg;
Co2: 214g/km;
Worth considering: Subaru Impreza WRX, Ford Mondeo 2.5 V6, Audi A4 2.0, Saab 9-3.

Price: £19,100;
Engine: 2.4 litre, four cylinder 188bhp;
Performance: 141mph, 0-60 in 7.9 secs, 31.4 mpg;
Co2: 214g/km;
Worth considering: Subaru Impreza WRX, Ford Mondeo 2.5 V6, Audi A4 2.0, Saab 9-3.

If new car development were stopped, which is highly improbable, and I was told I could drive only one car for the rest of my life, I would not be distressed if that car was the Honda Accord Type S.

I realise this sporty cousin of the standard Accord is hardly a dream motor, and there are faster, sexier and more luxurious cars that would make a more obvious choice of eternal wheels, but this subtle, sharp, new Honda offers a decent compromise between performance and comfort, and it would do me just fine.

I liked the Honda's characteristically free-revving I-VTEC 2.4 litre engine, switch-like gear change and reassuring, weighty agility. Accords have to be all things to all men, bland enough so your parents will like them, but slick enough to appeal to younger execs, and the new one succeeds on both counts.

It is classier than a Mondeo or a Vectra, and as unpretentious, discrete and thoroughly well-engineered, as we have come to expect from this manufacturer over the years.

Mention those fleet favourites to the people at Honda and they will brush them aside. The new Accord is targeting the likes of Volvo, Saab and Audi, they claim, and I can see why they might aspire to those heights. The Type S certainly has the finesse and build-quality to match them.

Trouble is, Honda, as a brand, tends to be judged by those examples seen so often pootling at pedestrian speeds with tartan rugs on the back seat, Werther's Originals in the glove-box and Wogan on the radio.

As a demographic stereotype, it is a far cry from Audi's architects or Saab's quirky creatives, and it does not help that there remains an almost defiant blandness about the Accord's styling that would be alien to most European manufacturers. You have to park the new Mazda 6 and an Accord side by side to spot the differences, something that could never be said about an A4 and a Saab 9-3. If Honda is aiming to conquer those executive niches they are going to have come up with a far more distinctive design language than this.

You should forget any prejudices you might have about biddy-powered Japanese Tupperware and think of Honda as the Mercedes of the Far East. Honda may still lag behind German makes in image, but the Type S is a finer drive than any A4, less brash than a BMW 3-Series and is better-made than a Mercedes C-Class. An Type S for the rest of my life? I should be so lucky.

Bill Stean, 53, commercial manager, from Ashurstwood, West Sussex
Usual car Vauxhall Omega

"I like it, it is a very nice car. I don't like cars that are too flash, so I am not terribly keen on the skirts and spoilers but at least there is no spoiler on the boot and it is fairly plain inside, which I like. It looks a little boy racer-ey, but it is jolly nice and quite cheap. I would have an Accord like a shot, I have had one before and this is an improvement on the last one they made. It has a quality feel, the doors close with a nice noise. This is probably for younger people, the performance is pretty good, especially with the six gears. It seemed to pull well. My guess is that buyers will be mostly men. It's not on my company car list, but if it was I would probably go for it."

Philip Talbot, 44, head of internal and marketing communications for NSPCC, from Horsham, West Sussex
Usual car Citroen ZX

"Executive cars aren't really my thing. This is 'nice' - with all the connotations of that word. It is unspectacular and solid. My pulse remained unraced. I liked the driving position, I've got long legs and normally cars can be a bit cramped but there was lots of space. The looks are nothing special, there is nothing idiosyncratic about it. My taste is towards something a little more quirky, I would say this is still tending towards the rep-mobile. It is a good old, solid Honda. I don't want to disparage it too much because it is a nice car and their reputation is growing. It is also really good value for money."

Andrew Morley, 54, agricultural engineer and his son George, 21, green keeper, from Ansty, West Sussex
Usual cars Volvo V70 and Rover 820

Andrew: "I can see it entering the Alfa 156 and Rover MG markets. It is well put together, quiet mostly, but a bit raucous when you push it. Being a Honda it will sell, but I can't see it getting into BMW territory. It is reasonable value. It is the kind of car that people who were boy racers but are a bit older will buy. It is basically a normal saloon with a little bit more about it."

George: "I'd pick that over a Volvo, it is a very pretty car. It falls between being a young and an old man's car, although younger people might prefer a three door hatch look."

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