TYPE CAST - Honda Accord Tourer 2.2 i-DTEC Type S
3:20pm Friday 21st May 2010 in Wheels
THE HONDA Accord is one of the under-rated gems within the D-segment. It’s not alone. Cars such as the Citroen C5, Mazda 6 and Skoda Octavia are similarly worthy of greater attention.
Faced with competition from segment conquering models such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, life can be tough for the undeserved also-rans, however.
They’re not completely under the radar, but initial thoughts don’t necessarily run to them. To compete in this hostile environment, such D-segment models need to offer something special.
The Citroen offers sharp styling, for example, while the Skoda offers great value and the Mazda offers a combination of both.
And the Honda? Well it’s pretty special to look at, to start with. The current shape Accord arrived with less fanfare than its smaller sibling, the Civic, despite similarly progressive exterior design. The Tourer estate model is a particularly eye-catching design thanks to its bulbous, rounded tailgate and dynamically styled window line.
Underneath the exterior the Accord is worthy, neat and accomplished D-segment fare. However, worthy and neat don’t really cut it against the big boys that also offer worthy and neat middle-ground variants, but also super-frugal versions to tempt fleet operators and company car drivers alongside bonkers high performance models to give the mid-range variants some glory-by-association.
Hence the delayed arrival of the Accord Tourer Type S, a model that attempts to combine improved performance with segment staples such as strong economy.
Surprisingly, the Type S is not the fastest Accord Tourer within the range. That honour remains with the 2.4 i-VTEC EX version, but its 2.4-litre, 198bhp petrol unit means fuel economy is sacrificed for the 7.8 second 0-62mph acceleration time.
The Type S instead uses a 177bhp version of the 2.2-litre diesel unit available elsewhere within the range with 148bhp. It maintains respectable economy while insuring the bulky model can reach 62mph in a fraction over nine seconds.
Typically of performance diesel units, the power delivery is not as smooth or persistent as that of a petrol model, tending to run out of puff at higher rpm, but it’s very quick to respond in gear, making it accomplished at picking of lorries and slower traffic on A and B roads.
The Type S also uses a sports suspension set-up as standard. This firms up the chassis, eliminating some of the float and proving surprisingly well suited to the big estate car. Ride comfort is not sacrificed to any great extent; even with the lower profile tyres present on the standard 18-inch wheels the occupants are unlikely to be bothered by the ride quality, while the limited body roll makes the driving experience more involving for the driver.
It would be a stretch to call it sporty, but there’s certainly enough feedback through the steering and responsiveness from the engine to keep things entertaining. Composed when cornering thanks in part to a long wheelbase, the Type S also benefits from a highly adjustable driving position, allowing the driver to opt for a low slung position if desired.
The other four occupants are unlikely to feel hard-done-by, either. The Type S’s specification sheet reads like Bill Gate’s shopping list. With the exception of the power tailgate, adaptive cruise, lane wandering and seatbelt-tugging crash mitigation system, there are few options boxes to tick. The model is comprehensively equipped with luxurious equipment, including a voice recognition system that controls functions from the sat-nav and radio to the air conditioning.
Given the Accord’s exterior stature, the interior does not feel as roomy as some rivals, but there’s no acute shortage of space. With the rear seats folded the load carrying potential is impressive and rear passengers do OK for leg and headroom. Build quality is also very strong, and the interior looks as though it will both date and age well.
In a sector where offering something a little special alongside the bread and water is key, the Type S manages to add some well-equipped appeal to the Accord Tourer range. Strong on style and extremely well equipped, it’s more than an also-ran.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Honda Accord Tourer 2.2 i-DTEC Type S, £29,280 on the road