Senin, 29 Januari 2007

Congratulations Honda Accord Euro Drive.com.au Best Medium Car of 2006




It’s not the newest kid on the grid, but Honda’s Accord Euro continues to impress with its high-quality interior, punchy yet economical four-cylinder engine and composed dynamics.


dCOTY 2006: Best Medium Car

The Testing

During the judging, the Jetta's enormous boot was a talking point. The Jetta was previously called the Bora, a model famous as the "Golf with a boot". The Jetta is still effectively just that, but all the judges were impressed at just how big the boot really was, especially after one of the larger judges climbed inside and had room to spare.

The amount of standard equipment impressed, although some were disappointed that the interior of the Jetta felt like the smaller (and cheaper) Golf.

The judges liked the Jetta's "cracker'' engine and most were impressed with the car's abilities on the tight section of the road loop. However, most agreed the suspension was too firm, the road noise was loud, and the desire to drink premium unleaded petrol an issue.

Toyota has put a lot of effort into the Camry's new clothes, and it show. The exterior is a significant step up on previous bland attempts, and the interior also endows the car with a level of excitement, not to mention loads of space.

It's still not perfect, as the dull mass of black plastic on the rear doors attests. The only highlight to breaks it up is a small chrome highlight on the door handle.

Inside, the aqua-coloured centre dashboard, however, did not impress as much, particularly at night. The fiddly display, flimsy air-conditioning knobs, and lack of interior ambience were lowlights.

On the skidpan the Camry was the least nimble of the four; its higher-profile tyres dulled the Camry's reactions and didn't grip as well as the others. This dynamic deficiency turned into a plus on the road; the Camry offered the most supple ride.

Ultimately, though, the Camry was essentially let down by its engine - too small and underpowered for the weight it was expected to shift.

The Subaru Liberty, the only all-wheel-drive sedan in this group, impressed on the skidpan and road loop with its sharp steering and high levels of grip, although the judges were quick to criticise the overly firm ride.

Previous Liberty models were let down by, among other things, their ageing interiors, so the new light/dark/light theme was a hit and impressed for its luxury look and feel. It was also the only one to have seatbelt reminders for all seats.

It must be said, however, that the Liberty makes consumers pay for the privilege because the flagship 3.0R we tested is at least $15,000 more than the other nominees.

The Subaru also had its shortcomings. There were only cheap-looking net pockets behind the seats, there were no pockets in the rear doors, no split-fold seats, a smallish boot, and minimal shoulder and leg room for rear passengers.

It was, however, the new SI-Drive technology that became the Subaru's main talking point.

Resembling BMW's controversial iDrive button in looks, Subaru's SI-Drive reduces the power of the engine to save fuel. Some labelled it "a gimmicky marketing ploy'' and the "most ridiculous way of saving fuel''. Only one judge argued for it.

Like the Liberty, the Accord Euro oozed quality and luxury. The feel of the materials and soft-touch seats impressed, as did the split-folding function, good headroom and plethora of covered cubbyholes.

On the skidpan, the judges rated the Accord Euro one of the sharpest of our quartet. The Honda's 2.4-litre engine and five-speed automatic transmission also won praise, especially since it is the most powerful and enthusiastic four-cylinder in the bunch.

Interior space was adequate, though not outstanding. Rear leg room is best described as adequate, there was only one rear map pocket, and no air vents for rear passengers.

The Winner

The Euro may be the oldest in the group, but there was no denying its all-round value for money package.

The Honda ticked all the right boxes across our five criteria. The only irk was having to pay $7000 to get curtain airbags as they are only available on the better-equipped Luxury model.

The drivetrain was the pick of the bunch with one judge saying the five-speed automatic was almost "intuitive'', adjusting to your driving behaviour even when in full automatic mode. Although, the pseudo-manual mode gearchanges are the wrong way around. You had to move the gear lever away from you to go up the gears and towards you to go down.

After all was said and done there was no surprise the Accord Euro was able to hold its own, even in this highly regarded bunch. The judges felt the Accord was "sharp'' in the quality, equipment and value stakes. It also got a tick for a full-sized alloy spare wheel.

All the judges wanted was the exterior styling to be as funky as the interior. Perhaps something Honda can work on for next year?

So what was Drive's Car of the Year for 2006?

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