It would be a difficult task tracking down a kiwi that has never driven or been a passenger in a Honda Accord. There are few models of car as entrenched in our land as the humble Accord, almost 900 are for sale right now on the Trade Me website. So after 35 years and eight generations how can Honda keep the Accord fresh and appealing? Splitting the model line into the Accord V6 and Accord Euro has gone some way to adapting to different tastes. But true success can only be found by continuing the Accord’s traditional strengths of style, affordability and all-rounder ability. Car and SUV spent some time with the facelifted 2012 Honda Accord Euro to see what’s new and what has stayed the same.
The Accord Euro has received fresh styling tweaks that include a new two-bar chrome grille, re-sculptured front bumper, foglight surrounds and reworked headlights. The taillights have also been replaced and there’s a splash of chrome detailing on the boot grab point. Our tested high-spec Euro L model was elegantly finished with twin chrome exhaust outlets, silver door handles and newly designed 17-inch 5-spoke wheels. All up, it’s a fairly tame facelift but the Accord Euro remains one of the more stylish entries in the mid-size sedan segment. Its clean lines and wide, athletic stance continue to have broad appeal.
Move inside the updated Accord Euro and your greeted with the same spacious and well-equipped cabin. Notable updates include Bluetooth integration with steering wheel buttons, a premium 10 speaker stereo with USB input and a new seat design. The dashboard remains mostly unchanged and has a high quality but busy mixture of dark plastics, alloy effect inserts and marble-look trim. The main control stack has a busy blend of dials, buttons and switches and while it’s not as intuitive as some set ups it all makes sense quickly enough. The only small complaint comes with the high-mounted black and white display screen, it functions fine but is beginning to look dated compared to the more colourful offerings of some competitors. By comparison the instrumentation is impressive; large dials are dissected by floating needles in an eye-catching three-dimensional display.
Overall comfort levels are very high for the money with the front seats a definite highlight. Trimmed in soft leather, the chairs are deep, wide and have ample support for longer journeys. Both front seats on the Euro L are heated and offer 8-way electronic adjustment. Additionally, the leather-wrapped steering wheel adjusts for reach and tilt so it’s easy to get set up just right.
The Accord Euro’s wide exterior dimensions translate into generous interior room. There’s plenty of shoulder space up front and cavernous footwells. The sunroof can creep in on headroom but unless you’re a pro basketballer this shouldn’t be an issue. The backseat can fit three across, but legroom is limited and the wide transmission tunnel will spoil the party for the middle occupant. In the boot there is 467-litres of available space, which is on the small side, but the rear seat back can fold forward for loading longer items.
In terms of standard equipment the Euro L is heavily stacked. There’s dual-zone climate control, electric sunroof with tilt/slide function, cruise control, trip computer, memory settings on the drivers’ seat and front and rear parking sensors. There’s also some more subtle touches like the glovebox and centre storage box receiving a feed from the air-conditioning so drinks can be kept cold and a smart key system that can operate the windows and sunroof remotely.
Under the bonnet there are no mechanical changes for the 2012 Accord Euro. The 2.4-litre i-VTEC petrol engine continues with a 148kW power rating and peak torque of 234Nm at 4,400rpm. It’s no fire-breather but is a confident powerplant and will push the Euro from standing to 100km/h in around 9 seconds. Like most VTEC engines it’s no overly endowed with low down torque but keep the four-cylinder high in the rev range and it’s a sporty steer. At cruising speeds it’s quiet and gives little away in terms of refinement to six-cylinder alternatives.
Married to the VTEC engine is Honda’s five-speed automatic transmission. It’s not the quickest box for chopping down gears when desired but makes up for it with smooth, predictable changes. In its standard setting the transmission gives the Accord Euro the demeanor of a relaxed cruiser more than an outright sports sedan. For greater control over the gear ratios, there are steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters that provide quick and diligent shifts. Fuel economy is rated at 8.9 litres per 100km combined – placing the Euro mid pack in its segment.
On road the Accord Euro has a sporty suspension tune, which isn’t entirely in keeping with its cruisy nature but is far from uncomfortable. The ride can feel firm at times but proves compliant in ironing our bumps and dips especially at highway speeds. There is plenty of grip through the front driving wheels and the Accord pulls its 1518kg body trough the turns with reassuring competence. Steering is precise and taut giving the driver confidence to push harder. But go too hard and it will begin leaning its shoulder into corners with glimpses of understeer. That said, overall handling is hard to fault and the Euro feels equally at home in suburban streets as it does on county back roads.
The Accord Euro safety package starts with strong brakes; ventilated discs up front and solid discs at the rear give a sharp and progressive feel. There’s an electronic stability control system incorporating traction control and ABS brakes with emergency brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. If things go really bad there are pretensioners on the seatbelts and front, side and full-length curtain airbags.
It’s a very mild facelift this time round for the Accord Euro, but it further strengthens an already appealing vehicle. There’s a few extra luxury touches blended into the Accord’s everyman charm and all round ability. However, there are some areas where this model is beginning to show its age. The drivetrain is still very capable but newer competitors are beginning to offer more power with less fuel usage. The interior fit-out also won’t appeal to all tastes and the black and white main display screen does look a touch plain. But in terms of equipment there’s a lot to like and the exterior styling has an evergreen appeal. Overall, the Accord remains a force among mid-size sedans, it’s the sum total of its ancestors and progresses with the well-received strengths of an iconic automotive bloodline.
Price: From $43,700 as tested $51,000
What we like:
- Already sharp exterior design further sharpened
- Loads of equipment on board
- Impressively refined cruiser
What we don’t like:
- Control screen looks dated
- Rear seat legroom and boot space
- Auto transmission sluggish at times
Who will buy this car: Broad appeal really, could have family applications, but may suit executives or young couples best.
Cool Factor: Med/high, it’s a looker for sure and you’ll never get called a snob for rolling in an Accord – even one that costs $50k.
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo