This is the second Type-S that I have driven recently, the first was a Civic type-S for FastHatchbacks.com. That car
really surprised me with it' s box standard exterior and general understatement throughout. On the move though
it turned out to be a really rounded car, which was good fun to drive. It wasn't as fast as the Astra Gsi,
that we tested along side it, but it was a better package with engine, steering, gearbox, suspension and brakes
all putting in a good showing.
26th - 30th June 2003.
Roadtested by Neil.
So the Accord in reflection is a little more in your face with it's low front lip and sinister grey alloys. Inside
as well the Accord feels a little different. So lets first hear a little about what Honda has done to create the new
Read some of the background information on the 2003 Accord HERE
First impressions from inside the car are great seats. The part-leather seats are some of the best I have sat in both
for initial feel and also after a longer journey. They are supportive, and sporty, as you feel clamped in it by the
wrap around sides.
The overall effect of the interior is pretty good. The dash is attractive and easy to use, the central console is
'Merc-esque' in its appearance especially the big round temperature dials. The dash is finished, as is the norm these days, with a carbon-fibre effect. The car has a huge cubbyhole in middle of the console, which also has
a large carbon-fibre look cover that slides up to gain access to it.
The speedo and revometer dials are red on black and permanently lit. The Steering wheel is trimed in leather and has aluminium effect trim
around the buttons to control the radio (on the left) and cruise control (on the right).
Specification wise the car has what you'd expect: air conditioning, CD / radio, cruise control and electric windows,
mirrors etc. This particular car has no sunroof.
The gear stick is great and feels exactly right in the palm of your hand. The alloy finish is very tactile.
Space-wise the car is good with the rear legroom being excellent as seen in the photos below (the drivers seat is set for my 6ft 1in frame).
The boot is also very generous providing 459litres of space.
On the move
Ok, enough of the details - what does the car feel like on the move ? Well my instant impression is good. The gear change
is great (quick and slick), the combination of the movement and the shape / texture itself is fantastic. The Vtec engine sounds
great too and even with mild acceleration the car feels quick.
Once the roads get a little more interesting other characteristics of the car can be investigated. Like the steering,
which is fast, and direct. The car responds well to the input and the general feedback on grip and car behaviour is
good. I think I am going to enjoy this week.
The Handling is also very good and for a front wheel drive understeer is hard to prevoke. In fact even without VSA
switched on the car has brilliant grip and composure.
Ride- wise you feel like it could be harder, it seems too soft to be really pushed down twisty roads. In reality
though, you then you feel confident pushing the car hard, more so than most of the cars I have driven recently.
I am pretty surprised by this and have to hand it to Honda that they have a car that really does work well on
British roads. In fact it is only really when you are travelling fast on bumpy roads that it does expose some
of the softness in the dampers and you do lose some of the stability.
The engine is very good with peek torque between just over 3,000rpm - 5,000rpm and peek power arriving at just
under 7,000rpm. The redline at c. 7,200rpm and is pretty gentle and always a surprise as the engine just wants
to keep going and so do you. The combination of the strong engine, 6-speed box and drive-by-wire seems to work
very well and the car feels faster then it's numbers suggest. The drive-by-wire also has a party piece in that
the car is prevented from revving in neutral above 4,500rpm.
The Type-S comes with VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist), which is a comprehensive solution to aid the cars general
safety and behaviour. You can read more about VSA here.. The
system can be disabled but you don't really gain much by switching it off, just more wheel spin and generally too
much power through the front wheels. A good driver may be able to extract a bit more out of the car, but for most
drivers the system is an aide and not a disability and should be left on.
Even in wet the car has good traction and manages to get the power down more successfully than other front wheeled drive
cars I have driven (the Mazda 6 currently worst at this). The dashboard indicator for VSA also doesn't appear to often,
indicating that the car can handle the power with out the electrical assistance.
During the course of the week I had a real mixture of weather conditions, from hot and dry to wet and cold. The Type-S
never ceased to be fun to drive in each of the conditions.
So the on the Accord Type-R debate... If there was one it would have harder suspension and power-wise it would have more - but
you don't feel shortchanged in the Type-S.
Our performance Results:
||Our figures (secs)
So I have now driven all the competitors to the Type-S and they are all a lot better than you'd imagine. The Accord has
been doing very well in magazine group tests, and I can see why. It is always difficult to compare cars when you drive
them seperately, but the Accord was certainly a great drive. It is cheaper than it's main rivals the Mondeo ST220 (£21,754),
Subaru Impreza WRX(£21,495), Vectra Gsi (£20,980) and MG ZT190 (£20,900).
Looks wise the car isn't exactly my cup of tea, but on the move the car is great. If this is your price bracket then you know what
On a final note the Accord has probably the largest manual I have ever seen with 100 pages for the stereo alone. checkout the
small photo below.
Thanks to Honda for the loan of the car.