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Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC ES GT

Click to view picture gallery“Good car, the Honda Accord.
  Trouble is, hardly anyone knows it.
  The world goes out and buys
  Passats, Mondeos and A4s and the
  Accord hardly gets a look in.
  The reason is simple: the Accord’s
  big saloon rivals are all available
  with clean, efficient diesel engines

IN CONTRAST, HONDA IS STILL a diesel debutante and the Accord is only offered with a single diesel option and its CO2 figures make eye-watering reading for company car buyers.

So, for 2011, Honda has revised its Accord range with much better CO2 numbers. Crucially, the popular 2.2 i-DTEC diesel now slots in below the all-important 160g/km 'Write Down Allowance' threshold for corporation tax. Impressively, the manual gearbox version comes in at 138g/km.

That and much improved fuel consumption of 53.3mpg should boost appeal. This has been achieved thanks to aerodynamic tweaks, low-friction wheel bearings and a smoother-running engine. The revised 2.2-litre i-DTEC is also more refined than before. Its power delivery remains smooth, strong and linear, with plenty of torque (258lb ft) available from well below 2,000rpm. The six-speed manual gearbox I tried works slickly, with a short, positive gear change action.

“New dampers specially
tuned to suit European
roads make the ride
quality better than
before and the Accord
corners confidently —
although hardly what
you’d call excitingly
As for the chassis, new dampers specially tuned to suit European roads make the ride quality better than before. The Accord corners confidently although hardly what you'd call excitingly.

Overall it strikes a good balance between roadholding and ride comfort, cornering with fluidity and neutrality, although not as confidently as the Mazda6 and Mondeo. Torque steer is effectively non-existent, and the steering has a very decent feel, although at low speeds it can seem a tad artificial.

The 2011 car is also slightly quieter than the old Accord, which already boasted refinement as a strong suit; now there's even less wind noise, engine boom and tyre roar.

The body styling has been updated, too. Not that you'd notice. The headlights and grille are reshaped and the indicators are clear rather than orange while top-grade models get HID headlamps with Active Cornering. On ES and ES GT versions, 17-inch alloy wheels are standard.

The interior is also lightly updated, with new dark silver panels and brighter silver for the handles and handbrake; ES models have new seat fabrics and door linings. The cabin is quite an agreeable place to be, with pleasant-to-touch switchgear and clear LCD instrumentation, but it's still not up there with Audi and VW in terms of tactile feel. You sit quite low down in well-bolstered seats and there's loads of space front and rear.

I tried the 148bhp ES GT diesel expected to be the most popular model but there will also be a more high-performance Type S diesel with 177bhp (29bhp more than the standard GT) and 18-inch alloy wheels. If you're interested in an alternative to the Passats, Mondeos and A4s of this world, make a note in your diary: the revised Accord range goes on sale on 1 July 2011. Chris Rees

Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC ES GT
| 24,695
Maximum speed: 131mph | 0-62mph: 9.4 seconds | Overall MPG: 53.3mpg
Power: 148bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2 138g/km