Honda and diesel should go together like water and electricity, right? Wrong. The Wheel Deal pilots the oil-burning Accord 2.2 i-DTEC and discovers that it’s a mash-up made in heaven
So what are we looking at here?
The Honda Accord is, plain and simple, Japan’s answer to the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. In the minds of many it doesn’t seem to carry the same amount of badge kudos, which is something of a shame considering its excellent on-paper credentials. Visually the Accord is not quite as dramatic as the BMW or Mercedes-Benz but thanks to that sleek silhouette and an aggressive front grille, it’s certainly more interesting to look at than the unnecessarily bland Audi. Being a range-topping model, this 2.2 i-DTEC ups the aesthetic ante with chunky 18-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and chrome finish door handles. It’s a subtle working over, I’ll admit, but it results in a classy executive saloon that looks good in any corporate parking garage.
What’s it like to drive?
Very impressive indeed. Endowed with an excellent driving position, the Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC makes a surprisingly good back-road wingman. And the secret to this car’s prowess can be attributed to its sublime chassis. Striking a near perfect balance between comfort and sportiness, it carves across any surface with an eagerness that far outshines that of an equivalent C-Class. Feeling light and nimble on its feet, it also has a similarly praise-worthy electric power-steering setup. A lot of manufacturers tend to dial-in way too much power assistance these days but this Honda benefits from a goodly amount of weight and plenty of feel. In fact if the Accord were rear-wheel drive, I sincerely believe that it could give the current BMW 3 Series a proper run for its dynamic money.
A really great steer through the twisties, there is also a satisfying amount of power on tap courtesy that smooth-revving 2.2 i-DTEC diesel engine. Admittedly it does feel rather flat below the 2000rpm mark but once past this dead zone, and the full torque quota is fully unleashed, Honda’s oil-burning Accord packs on speed at quite a rate. A prevalence of turbo-lag means you have to make frequent use of that six-speed manual gearbox. But being a short-throw unit endowed with the accuracy of a bloodthirsty sniper, it just adds to this car’s appeal. The idea of a diesel-powered Honda might seem strange to some but, merging vigorous off-the-mark acceleration with effortless highway cruising, it suits the Accord down to a tee.
Is it luxurious on the inside?
Absolutely. Benefitting from Honda’s range-topping Executive spec, the Accord 2.2 i-DTEC comes loaded with almost every luxury you can think of. From electronically adjustable and heated leather seats (with memory function) right through to adaptive cruise control, the amount of standard equipment worked into the final mix makes all them German rivals seem downright stingy. Other highlights include parking sensors; bi-xenon headlights; automatic dual-zone climate control and a seriously impressive premium sound system that mates a powerful amplifier to no less than 10 speakers. Topped off with USB and Bluetooth integration, this makes spending long periods of time inside the Accord a real pleasure. Build quality is top-notch and switchgear ergonomics are above average.
Who should buy one?
Those looking to breakaway from the predictability of garaging an Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Value and drivability is more important than image.
How does it measure up?
On paper the R396 200 Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC is more expensive than the A4 2.0 TDI Ambition 125kW manual (R367 500), BMW 320d (R372 500) and Mercedes-Benz C200 CDI (R380 000). However, to spec any of these cars out with the level of kit that comes standard in the Honda, you’ll soon be paying well above the R400k mark. So from the value point of the view the Accord gets a big, fat double thumbs-up.
In terms of power and torque the BMW 320d wins the fight with 135kW/380Nm. The Honda comes second with 132kW/380Nm and then the Audi with 125kW/350Nm. At the bottom of the pile is the Mercedes-Benz with 100kW/360Nm. In terms of overall driving enjoyment the BMW 320d is still the benchmark but the Honda is definitely second in class, beating both the Audi and the Mercedes-Benz.
What’s the final word?
As a medium-sized executive saloon the Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC checks all the right boxes. From its understated yet smart appearance right through to its willing engine and polished handling characteristics, there’s really not much to dislike about it. Obviously it doesn’t have the brand appeal of its German rivals but if you’re willing to forgo this then you’ll be rewarded with an excellent all-rounder that’s packed full of features.
Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC at a Glance:
Engine: 2199cc four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 132kW at 4000rpm
Torque: 380Nm at 2000rpm
0-100km/h: 8.7 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed: 220km/h (claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 5.8l/100km (claimed)
Pricing: R396 200
Big on value
Really good to drive
Willing diesel engine
Not as rich in the image stakes as its German rivals
If only it were rear-wheel-drive!
Uh, no much else…