Monday 11 June 2012

Road - According to Honda

It's not a sunset, it's a van.
I’ll tell you what, covering the Jim Clark Rally the other weekend was made a lot easier than expected. I had choice of vehicles to drive, a hi-roof, extra-long wheelbase, twin rear-wheeled, Nissan NV400 or a Honda Accord Type S.

I was initially tempted to take the van so that I could get all my stuff in it, but decided to cram everything into the Honda instead. Wise choice. The town of Duns is not quite big enough for a van that is 6,848 mm long (22.48 feet long) with a turning circle of 18 metres. In other words whilst it would be easy to drive through Duns, it would be difficult to park it or turn it round.

Parking in Duns Square? Nae chance. Think putting a reluctant silver back gorilla into a budgie’s cage. Not to be recommended.

So I took the Honda. On the way down to Kelso I was getting 43.6 mpg from the 4 cylinder 2.2 DTEC High engine, but by the end of the weekend it was below 40 mpg! That was entirely my fault but Honda must take some share of the blame. It’s a cracking motor to drive. With 178 bhp, the oil burner is expected to be quick, but with 380 Nm of torque it is a supreme cross country tourer.

Outside the Jim Clark Room in Duns
Honda may lack the profile of luxury British and German brands, but that is the buyers’ loss. Over the course of the weekend I got to know the ‘back road’ from Selkirk to Kelso over Mertoun Bridge and via St Boswells pretty well, and the run from Kelso to Duns via Greenlaw quite intimately and the Honda was seriously impressive.

The Borders roads are renowned for fast sweeping stretches of tarmac where you can see ahead for miles, but with plenty of dips, plunges and crests to catch out the unwary. And not once was the Honda found wanting. The engine and 6 speed gearbox were a match made at leisure rather than a rush job at Gretna.  If I was being picky, then although the ratios were good, the gear change itself lacked a tiny wee bit precision, with tendency at times to nearly miss out third and fourth going up and down the ‘box. Not at all sloppy, but required driver attention – especially at speed!

Even more surprising was the handling. Not renowned for long suspension travel, the pliancy of the Accord ride was transferred to the nether regions with all the subtlety of a feather hammer. And both the seat and the driving position were excellent.

More to the point, I got all my gear into the boot and the back seat – I rarely travel light.

On the way home after a tiring weekend, fuel consumption fell as comfort and satisfaction replaced frenetic schedules and anxious deadlines.

Truly a car for all reasons.

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