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Honda Accord Tourer 2004 - long-term test

Those who keep a close eye on the comings and goings of our fleet will notice our Honda Accord Tourer seems to have changed colour.

  • Smooth, quiet diesel, massive boot, sat-nav, road manners, interior comfort, economy
  • No automatic gearbox option, steering wheel is a bit large, that's about it

Those who keep a close eye on the comings and goings of our long-term fleet will notice our Honda Accord Tourer seems to have changed colour. In fact, it's a whole new car - Milano Red this time, rather than Indigo Blue Pearl. The simple reason is that the 2.4-litre model we used to run was such a hit with all who drove it that we've replaced it with a diesel version. But there's more to it than that.

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At our New Car Honours 2004, in issue 817, we voted the Honda Accord our favourite family saloon and the Tourer our top estate (both for the second year in a row), while the new 2.2 i-CTDi engine won our best executive diesel category. Our new long-termer ticks all those boxes - so could it be Auto Express's ultimate test model? I think so. As chief snapper, I need a large, practical car, preferably with a torquey, frugal engine given that I cover upwards of 5,000 miles a month. As I missed out on running the last Accord Tourer, I made sure I was first in the queue for the keys for this one. And I'm glad I did, as I can't think of a more suitable photography wagon.

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For starters, it looks great - much better than the Ford Focus C-MAX I ran beforehand. The square lines may divide opinion, but I like the fact this is a no-nonsense load-lugger that does exactly what it says on the tin. My only gripe is that the standard 16-inch alloys look a little small for the tall flanks. Bigger wheels are available, but I'm happy since the ride of this car is so smooth. In fact, the whole driving experience is fault-free. The steering is light and sharp, stability is good even with the boot fully loaded and the pedals are light and precise to use.

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But the star of the show is Honda's astounding diesel engine. That "hate something, change something" TV ad is right - the smoothness and silence of this unit have to be experienced to be believed. Even with a bootful of photography gear, there's no discernible effect on the performance, which remains muscular all the way through the mid-range.

Nor does the extra weight hit the economy too much. I've been averaging just under 41mpg - not bad considering many of my journeys are spent on the stop-start M25 at rush hour getting from my home near Chelmsford, Essex, to the various photo locations we use to the north or west of London. I don't need to take a road atlas any more, either - the Accord's DVD-based sat-nav system is excellent, easy to programme and simple to follow.

Tourer is an apt name for this car. It relishes long trips - and so do I given the broad, comfortable seats, faultless driving position and slick controls. One of my favourite features is the superb five-speed manual gearbox. However, we hear demand is growing for an auto option. One dealer tells us he's lost six sales in the past month due to the lack of a self-shifter - and this from a quiet rural showroom, not a big city site. Then there's the vast boot. All my kit slots in and I can still pull the load cover over to hide the cases and bags from view. This may sound like gushing praise, but there's nothing I dislike about this car - except perhaps the large-diameter steering wheel. All I've got to do now is make sure I keep a firm grip on the keys.

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