Road Impressions

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The Honda Accord EX

The need for a convenient car to use as a tender when! went in the 1904 Mercedes on the Veteran Car Brighton Run gave me a good opportunity to discover that this is just what the latest Honda Accord is — a well-contrived, convenient, medium-sized car with other attributes. It came to us in three-door EX (for Executive) form, a Hatchback with an ingenious folding shelf and divided rear seat, so an admirable load carrier, even if the hatch does not extend to the bottom of the back of the body. It was also the Hondamatic version of this well-made car, so it was simplicity to drive, the gear locations rather oddly marked “OD” for normal drive, with a star showing the middle-gear position, but otherwise with the expected L, N, P and R positions; the change into N from drive is unprotected, however, but a press-button on the side of the T-handle guards against inadvertent moves into L, R or P. An illuminated indicator on the fascia follows the gear-lever movements.

When I say this Honda Accord is well laid out and conveniently equipped, I mean it! This is evident in the quality of the clearly-labelled, or symbolled, controls, the floor levers to enable the driver to open hatch and near side lockable fuel-filler flap without getting out of his easily-adjusted (for height as well as reach) comfortable seat, these seat adjustments closely graded. The well-contrived and substantial twin stalk controls have the rear wipe/wash operated from the left one, turn-indicators with the right-hand stalk, the four horn-pushes on the steering-wheel spokes are easy to use whether you loll along with hands at “ten-to-two” or use a lower grip, and ten warning lights are on the instrument panel which also contains the easily-read Seiki tachometer and speedometer, the former red-lined at 6,000 rpm. These dials are supplemented by heat and fuel gauges (approx 1.9 gallons reserve when the low-level petrol light comes on), and the car-plan that illuminates if a door or the hatch is left open. There is also a service pond, ingeniously arranged to show lights of different colours if something vital fails, needs servicing, or is overdue for such attention, this including a tyres-rotation reminder.

The gear selector is rather long, the hand-brake well placed. Other convenient aspects of this smart Honda Accord include a four-position headlamps’ adjuster to cope with anti-dazzle under varying loads, easily variable panel lighting, a heater fan that has three settings beyond the “mild” one which is useful for rapid de-misting, two internally-adjustable rear-view mirrors, a good electric sunroof with sliding cover below it, and an electric roof-mounted ridio aerial, both having neat switches, a holder for cassettes for the National radio / stereo player which uses door-speakers, rear seat belts, thus anticipating the time when these become compulsory, mud flaps behind all the wheels, a quartz clock in the centre of the screen sill, with a button for date display, openable rear side windows, and useful stowages that encompass a shallow but lockable cubby, elastic-band-closed front door pockets and bins beside the back seat, and a coin storage on the fascia. Such items, coupled with the excellence of the ventilator flap controls and a good paint job, make this Honda the equal of far more costly cars.

The Stanley lamps give good illumination, with flick dip, there is a manual choke with throttle-setting notches, again all of high quality and giving prompt starting from cold. The fuel tank holds a useful 13.2 gallons. Taking the Accord over in London traffic the initial impression was of some whirring as the Hondamatic operated, but on less congested roads this is a notably quiet, smooth-running car, able to nudge 100 mph on a Motorway. It has good servo disc / drum brakes but the Japanese suspension, all independent by coil spring struts, allows rather too much sway at speed on winding roads, so that one normally-immune back-seat occupant felt momentarily sick. Road-holding is not suspect to any great degree, however, the wheels being shod with 165 SP13 Michelin XZX tyres as a contribution to good grip. The power steering has been praised in a contemporary journal as about the best there is. I cannot agree, finding it much too light and inclined to be vague, although it has some castor return and its light action is certainly excellent for parking or taking quick evasive action.

For a 1.6-litre car (77 x 88 mm, ohc, four-cylinder, front-drive) fuel consumption is not all that good. Driving very fast gave around 26 mpg and this only improved to an overall 26.7 mpg with more unhurried usage. Where this Honda scores is in its apparent quality, that would not disgrace “prestige” models, and its well-thought-out minor details. The front-hinged, prop-up bonnet-lid is easy to open but makes dip-stick and fillers a trifle inaccessible, but not so the Yuasa battery. As central door locking and electric windows, the latter hardly needed in a compact body, are omitted the price is held to £6,500 (£6,190 with manual transmission). It comes with a good multi-lingual handbook, but! thought the seat-belt connectors rather difficult to use. It is thus an attractive proposition, which makes me keen to try the 12-valve Honda Prelude which I had hoped this one, asked focus short notice, would have turned out to be. . . .

You may look askance at the way Japan is taking over Dunlop and showing us how to play rugby football, after having absorbed the British motorcycle industry, and invaded our car market. But it pays to see what the opposition is like! — W.B.

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