THIS IS PROBABLY the toughest challenge my Honda Accord has encountered since I took delivery of it almost seven months ago and I’m generally impressed with how it coped with the 108km steeplechase. Sure, a few dynamic weaknesses were exposed over the route, but it accounted well for itself keeping up with its turbocharged fleet-mates.
The Accord did a superb job weaving through the gentle bends of the Atlantic Seaboard but Chapman’s Peak Drive would be its first real test. The initial gradient leading up to the look-out point on Chappies was pretty tricky because not only was the road surface very slippery from a spate of wet weather, there was also a fair amount of gravel and sediment from mountain-side run-off. Conditions improved as we moved past the touristy sections and entered the start of the pass proper, but it was still too wet for maximum attack – just a mild stab of the throttle was all it took to unstick the front wheels. Thankfully, the roads were in a better state as we descended into Noordhoek.
Complimented by the well-weighted and agile steering set-up, the Accord has great chassis etiquette. Sure, there is smidgeon of body roll on turn-in but it’s negligible when you consider how composed it is through some of the more challenging corners. This has a lot to do with the compliant suspension, which managed to stay appreciably forgiving over the rutted and corrugated surface of Misty Cliffs. It’s still not without fault – certain sections of this bumpy mountain road were quite severely felt through the suspension due to the 18-inch wheels and low profile tyres. Out on the open road is where the Accord is best enjoyed. The cabin is well insulated and the NVH control is impeccable. Wind and engine interference is practically non-existent thanks to the sound-deadening materials used under the bonnet and facia areas, but these measures don’t help much to mitigate the road noise from the low-profile rubber.
The Accord is no sports car but performs efficiently when driven with urgency. It’s notably quicker than Calvin’s turbocharged Volkswagen Passat DSG and may even give our Editor’s Jag a run for its money over the quarter mile. Taking on Wayne’s hot-hatch decimating X1 would be a futile exercise, though… As the only naturally-aspirated car in our fleet, the driving experience is unfiltered and intuitive thanks to the slick-operating shift action of the manual gearbox and raspy soundtrack from the 2.4-litre mill – especially when VTEC comes alive at 5000rpm.
Even though the Honda comes standard with a comprehensive five-year/90 000 service plan, it lacks a dedicated roadside assistance programme. But come to think of it, how many Honda’s do you see broken down on the side of the road nowadays? My point, exactly.
EVER SINCE THE Honda Accord’s rev needle sliced past 5000rpm for the first time, it has felt kind of lively. Maybe it’s all in my head or perhaps, better still, I have that enigmatic Wednesday car petrol-heads often talk about? As you can imagine, my colleagues think that I’ve fallen prey to a HVTD (Honda VTEC Transmitted Disease) and subsequently live my life one valve lift actuation at a time. I don’t guys – seriously…
To prove this I headed down to Killarney Raceway to finally put my claims to bed.
According to Honda, the Accord should accelerate from standstill to 100kph in 8.1 seconds (in ideal conditions). My long-termer managed this feat in 8.5 seconds, which, although marginally off the claimed figure, is still laudable given the run was done on a cold, unprepared track. However, its most endearing attribute is not so much the acceleration but rather the smoothness and free-revving demeanour of the 2.4-litre engine and six-speed transmission – a sentiment shared by not only our road test engineer, Peter Henkel, but the entire topCar team, too. The ’box is solid, gear changes are fluent, the linkages robust and the engine can be driven with fervour all day long.
Drive it hard though, and things can get costly at the pumps, but drive it diligently and you can massage pretty decent mileage from a full tank. Now that it’s officially been run-in, the fuel economy has started to improve month-on-month. As per tradition, once we’ve track-tested a vehicle we put it through our economy route – an 80km stretch of road that best demonstrates the extremities of real-world commuting. The undulating surfaces and fuel-draining inclines can be disastrous for claimed manufacturer figures, but they did nothing but emphasise the versatile nature of the Honda Accord’s generous drivetrain, resulting in a personal best economy figure of 7.9ℓ/100km. That said, I also managed to eke out 680 kilometres fromthe last tankful while equalling the claimed 8.8ℓ/100km figure in the process.
In closing, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find fault with the Honda Accord. It really is a well-built machine but is the (much) cheaper and equally specced Kia Optima a better buy? Find out in the September issue of topCar.
I CAN HARDLY believe that I’ve put nearly 2000km on my Honda Accord this month, which is quite surprising given my usual average of around 800km. Nonetheless, it was good to spend some extra time behind the wheel and try to better my fuel consumption record, which was only 9.9l/100km. After a painful 629km nursing the throttle and resisting the urge of going over 5000rpm, I’m happy to report my best figure yet – 9.8l/100km.
However, there is one thing I’m not very chuffed with and that’s the ever-increasing fuel price. Since my first fill-up in late December, the price of petrol has increased by more than R1/litre – that’s ridiculous! My latest tankful cost me a cataclysmic R676.55. It’s not all doom and gloom though. I guess I can take at least one positive from this bleak situation – driving slower and trying to eke out as many kilometres from a tank as possible.
Enough with the ranting… This month was also the first time I’ve taken the Accord for a full valet. I usually do this sort of thing myself but a serious bout of man flu left me incapacitated. So off I went in search of a car wash. I settled on the Engen Service Station on Durban Road because, unlike some of the other places that use a car wash machine, this operation uses the traditional hand-wash technique that means less harm for the paintwork. I must admit, these guys did a superb job – both inside and out – making my Accord look all shiny and new again.
The next few months sees the topCar team taking up several long-term group challenges – the first of which will take the form of an economy run though our usual 80km test route. I’m keen to see how the Accord fares and I’ll be happy for it to dip below 9.5l/100km. Who knows, I may even beat Honda’s claimed figure of 8.8l/100km. I can only hope…
UPS | Fuel consumption is steadily improving
DOWNS | Dark paintwork proving a nightmare to keep clean
I’m a happy man. After months of head scratching, cursing and a suffering bank balance, my fuel consumption figure has finally started to improve. Compared with the abysmal 11.5l/100km I was averaging last month, my current consumption looks mighty impressive at 10.7l/100km. I know I’m still a fair bit off the claimed 8.8l/100km rated by Honda, but I’ve worked diligently to get into the 10s and aim to get as close to the claimed figure as possible, which means lots of long-distance driving, gentle throttle inputs and limited VTEC engagement (Unless I happen to line up against Ashley’s V60 Polestar long termer at a traffic light).
As time goes by I’m finding it incredibly difficult to keep my Accord clean. I’m the type of person who hates a dirty car, both inside and out, so I get irked pretty quickly by imperfections. I swear, the next bird to defecate on my pristine paintwork will be drawn and quartered on site! Just a couple of days after giving it a full wash – all done by hand I might add – a very large bird, presumably a sacred ibis crossed with an ostrich, judging by the load, did a Jackson Pollock on my paintwork. My entire bonnet, roof and boot were covered in a pearlescent runny stool, which took a large portion of my Saturday morning to remove.
The dark paint also lends itself to over accentuating scratches and swirls. Close examination of the paintwork has revealed several scuffs and surface scratches – thankfully, the Meguiars car care kit I got for Christmas has been put to good use removing most of the blemishes.
Other than being used as a canvas by an avian artist, I’ve had no issues with the car whatsoever. It’s still an absolute joy to drive and is as comfortable as any luxury German saloon out there.
First port of call for this month: coax Wayne into giving me his undercover parking bay – I’m sure he won’t notice any bird-implemented drip paintings on his poo-coloured BMW X1.