In another time and another place the founding authors of Driven to write discussed forgotten cars (if we can remember them). To first forget a car you have to have known about it in the first place. So, that’s why this car wasn’t mentioned first-time around.
The 2002-2007 Honda Accord estate might be a car I knew about for a few minutes in 2002. After being informed of its existence, I must have promptly forgotten all about it. I can’t really be said to have known about it in the way I know about/forgot about the Honda Legend, the Mazda Demio or Porche Cayenne. The estate version must have been a slow seller as I have not seen enough of them to register its existence (or re-register its existence) until a week or so back.
Something about the car puzzled me but I could not put my finger on what it was until reviewing the photos accompanying this article. Can you tell what it is that is somewhat unusual? Here is the car again from the other side:
I will give you a moment to ruminate on the question and dig down into the car’s history.
This version of the Accord went on sale in 2002. One or two saloonical ones live around my neck of the woods and I really like the neat design – pretty much the kind of tidy saloon Peugeot should have done instead of the awkward 407 and bloated 508. With no degree of doubt I would declare this generation of Accord to be the last one that was right-sized. The next one followed the Mondeo and Insignia into the territory marked “here be monsters”.
The 2002 Accord weighed a little under 1500 kg and had 4665 mm from front to back. Widthwise it measured 1760 mm according to the RAA. For 2008 it grew to 4725 mm nose to tail and its width increased to 1840 mm. Those figures are for the Honda Accord Euro (as it was sold in Australia). There might be some reason for uncertainty as the Honda Accord is not one model sold globally but at various times one, two or three different cars matched to various markets**.
However, I think the car did get wider as well as longer, making it less tractable and handy for European drivers. You would think Honda considered this (along with every other car maker wondering why people aren’t so keen on saloons as they were – discuss).
Another reason the Accord might not have found so many customers might be due to the not-very-generous engine range: 2.0 and 2.4 litre petrols and a diesel of some kind. Missing is a 1.8 and a 2.2 petrol engine and maybe even a larger diesel unit. We can forget the V6 though such an engine would have been lovely in the Accord.
It had a 65 litre fuel tank and very smart interior.
Dimensionswise, it must have been one the last of the group of C-D cars sized correctly (Peugeot 406, Mondeo Mk 2, Opel Vectra C). I haven’t checked up on the launch dates for all its peers. We have the motoring press to blame, in part, for cars getting too big. Notice at the end of this verdict from Parkers that they consider the car a bit small:
“The advert said ‘isn’t it nice when things just work?’, and the Accord does just that. Honda has mixed mix business with pleasure and moved the Accord closer to exec spec that’s sharp enough to impress clients but sporty enough to please you. It’s certainly a quality package, not one that comes cheap but one that is well-specced and expertly screwed together. But, executive aspirations take away some of the versatility expected in this sector (no hatchback) and it’s a bit small compared to rivals. The diesel engine impresses even the harshest oil-burning critic.”
Now let’s turn back to the back:
What is odd about this is the apparently excessive number of panel gaps. There is a horizontal one where the roof-spoiler meets the side of the tailgate and a thicker upright one there the spoiler meets the main body of the roof. That vertical line is slowing things down rather but the slimmer one below it is the tell-the-tale detail.
Honda went with a little-used solution to the tail-gate design which is to have the tailgate shutline run transversely meaning it tracks alongside the edge of the sideglass. When the tailgate is opened the side-glass and its chrome trim are left hanging in the air.
I expect that the key to this is the wish to have an integrated roof spoiler, making for quite nice aerodynamics at the rear. Such is the integrity of the design that it is not feasible to have that spoiler and any other plausible configuration of shutlines. That vertical line inevitably falls out of that type of roof spoiler concept. Those interested in design will appreciate the fit between construction, function, material and form.
Here’s an orthodox tailgate:
I don’t consider the vertical line to be a failure so much as a necessary compromise. It all makes sense in the light of the wish to achieve a certain aerodynamic efficiency and also allows a wider aperture too. That matters when moving stuff in your estate car. Not only that, the rest of the car has earned laurels for its solid construction.
Here’s the RAA again: “Honda’s attention to getting the engineering of the Euro right has meant that they are aging well and holding their value reasonably. So if you’re in the market for one be prepared to pay a bit for it.”
What we find here is the last of the sensibly scaled estate cars with the added bonus of a little design originality at one end and coherent and well-tailored forms everywhere else.