Nobody could accuse Honda of rushing into things. While the rest of the motor industry embraced diesels aeons ago, Honda hung back and eventually produced its own diesel just four years back. Now it has belatedly caught up with the vogue for diesel automatics.
Honda’s late arrival on the diesel scene came in 2004 when it launched its excellent 2.2 i-CTDi engine in the Accord. It’s the same engine that still powers the Civic, FR-V and CR-V, but it underwent a radical re-design and metamorphosed into the i-DTEC for the launch of the new Accord.
Disappointingly, that appeared last summer with no automatic version on offer, but with a promise of one on the way soon. The delay was due to Honda opting to set its engineers the task of developing the company’s own diesel-compatible automatic transmission, rather than buying one in from an outside supplier.
Here it is, and in typical Honda fashion it’s a bit different from the others. We’re used to seeing Tiptronic-style autos with the central lever incorporating a sequential manual selector, plus in more upmarket cars – steering wheel-mounted paddles as well. In the diesel auto Accord you do get the paddles. But what you don’t get is the usual manual shift facility in the gear lever itself. This makes sense to me, as it seems an unnecessary duplication to have both, and given the choice I much prefer to shift gear via the paddles. But Honda’s decision may not please drivers who prefer the familiarity of palming a left-hand lever to control shifts through the box.
Another unexpected twist to Honda’s new auto box is the number of ratios on offer. It’s common these days to find six or seven gears on tap. The Accord auto makes do with five. That’s at odds, for example, with a rival Mercedes-Benz C-Class, in which the auto box is seven-speed. In its favour, you don’t really miss a couple of extra ratios, and Honda’s automatic is effective and unobtrusive. Shifts between gears are rapid and seamless, and if you’re in the mood to be in control, the paddles are wellplaced and comfortable to use.
We’ve already given the i-DTEC engine a resounding thumbs-up when the new Accord made its debut. It’s a strong performer without making a fuss about it. There is 258lb ft of torque available from 2,000rpm, and it feels willing and responsive. It’s smooth and relaxed too: at 70mph in top, the engine is spinning at just 2,200rpm.
It’s a chain-driven double overhead cam engine, and it’s Euro V emissions compliant. Teamed with an efficient new auto box, it makes the Accord an appealing package.
RIVALS: AUDI A4 2.0 TDI SE AUTO, MERCEDES-BENZ C 200 CDI SE AUTO
- Engine: 2199cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed automatic
- Max Power: 148bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 258lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,100kg
- Combined Consumption: 44.1mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 170g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: tba
- Max speed: 129mph
- Insurance Group: 11