Honda Accord Tourer

There's something therapeutic about cleaning a car; you get a real satisfaction from washing away grime and restoring your motor to pristine condition. Not that it takes much elbow grease when the car's only five weeks old, and you've got a jetwash to hand. Then again, the latest addition to our long-term fleet hasn't exactly had a gentle introduction to the rigours of life at Auto Express.

  • Remote opening tailgate, easy-to-fold rear seats, sat-nav, driving manners, nice cabin
  • Rattle from glovebox, xenon lights need adjusting, light coloured trim shows the dirt

There's something therapeutic about cleaning a car; you get a real satisfaction from washing away grime and restoring your motor to pristine condition. Not that it takes much elbow grease when the car's only five weeks old, and you've got a jetwash to hand. Then again, the latest addition to our long-term fleet hasn't exactly had a gentle introduction to the rigours of life at Auto Express.

We chose a Honda Accord Tourer because of its load-lugging abilities (it was voted best estate car in our New Car Honours, Issue 765). It's already been in demand shifting furniture and has coped admirably with several trips to B&Q. But I wanted to see how it would cope with a week's holiday. Granted there were only two of us, although you don't travel light when you're heading to the Yorkshire Dales in September for seven days of mountain biking - all-weather gear's a must.

However, loading everything into the Accord proved to be a cinch, thanks to two extremely useful features. The electric tailgate opens from the keyfob, so you don't have to put down whatever you're carrying to raise the rear door, while the back-seat folding mechanism is a work of genius. Simply pull the lever on the seat shoulder and, as you tilt the backrest forwards, the headrest folds and the base flips up.

And with all that space on offer, our two bikes fitted in effortlessly - the luggage cover even went over them, while the dog guard that clips up to the ceiling stopped anything sliding forward. We're regretting opting for the beige trim though - it really shows the dirt. There's also a useful underfloor luggage compartment, but it's arrived at the expense of a spare wheel. Instead you have to make do with a can of sealant.

That's one of the few criticisms I've got of the Accord. It proved effortlessly comfortable for the journey from my home in Kent up to the Dales. The meaty 2.4-litre engine is surprisingly torquey for a Honda (although it needs to be worked hard to extract the maximum), cruises quietly and has averaged a reasonable 32.3mpg - not bad for a 187bhp motor with a taut six-speed gearbox and enthusiastic driving manners. The ride quality is really good, and unless you glance in the rear view mirror and see the distant tailgate, it's easy to forget you're driving an estate. The brakes are strong, turn-in sharp and there's loads of grip.

And I haven't even touched on the driving environment yet, which is undoubtedly one of the Accord's strongest areas. The front seats are broad and comfortable, and there's plenty of cabin storage. But the biggest bonus is the large-screen satellite navigation, which unlike on many cars costing twice as much, is standard fit on the Executive model.

However, despite a premium feel and being fitted with all manner of luxury touches, we've detected our first rattle - from the trim around the glovebox. And that's not the only fault. With the evenings now starting to draw in, we've noticed that the xenon headlights are poorly adjusted. My local dealer (Whitehouse Honda of Bexleyheath) promised to fix them free of charge - we'll let you know how we get on.

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