An ingenious, world-first ‘one-motion’ fold flat rear seat and a power tailgate that can be fully opened and closed at the press of a button typify the outstanding versatility of the new Honda Accord Tourer to be launched in spring next year.
Building on the superb engineering quality of the new Accord saloon, the estate is likewise aimed at the discerning, executive end of the market and delivers strong levels of performance, a finely tuned chassis, superb fit and finish and distinctive styling.
Strong dynamic performance doesn’t mean compromise, as Honda’s new contender will be the most thoroughly executed estate on the market. A wheelbase increased by 50 mm and overall length by 85 mm, combined with a compact and unique rear trailing arm suspension, result in a class-leading load volume with all seats in place of 576 litres (VDA), rising to 921 litres with the ‘one-motion’ rear seats folded.
Those 60:40 split rear seats offer a further quantum leap forward in terms of everyday, easy-to-use practicality. Pull the seat back lever and the head restraints flip forward as the seat base rises into a vertical position. The seat back then folds totally flat, in one simple movement, with the seat integrated seatbelts ensuring minimum inconvenience.
Lifting the back rest restores both seat base and head restraints, with no seat belt manoeuvring required. One action to provide a totally flat floor, and one to restore comfortable and safe seating.
Having dealt with the load floor, Honda’s next design innovation was an incredible power-operated tailgate. This opens or closes in seconds and is operated by the key fob, or alternatively closed using a switch located on the lower edge of the tailgate. It’s likely to prove indispensable in a number of ways, but laden with shopping in a wet and windy supermarket car park is the type of situation that might well prompt the question as to why all cars don’t have one. Full manual operation is possible, while a host of safety mechanisms are naturally incorporated.
A particularly wide tailgate opening adds further versatility and under floor storage secured by a lockable lid provides further out of sight space large enough for a briefcase or laptop bag.
Given this level of practicality, it would be understandable if the Accord Tourer had ended up with boxy, conventional styling. On the contrary, its load swallowing capabilities are disguised by a sleek side profile characterised by flowing lines and a strongly tapering side glass area.
Like the saloon, the Tourer boasts a spacious interior and a comprehensive specification including dual zone climate control air conditioning, front, side and curtain airbags and optional DVD satellite navigation system with touch screen operation.
Power is provided by the same 155 PS (114 kW) 2.0 litre and 190 PS (140 kW) 2.4 litre engines mated to 5-speed and 6-speed manual transmissions respectively, or a 5-speed automatic with Sequential Shift. Both engines use DOHC i-VTEC technology to deliver consistently high output across all engine speeds without the penalty of high fuel consumption and emissions.
A chassis developed to provide a strong sense of security and heightened responses to driver input is complemented by a bodyshell of high dynamic stiffness. All models are equipped with ABS, EBD and brake assist, while 2.4 litre variants have the added advantage of VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist).
"The Accord Tourer marks Honda’s return to the quality estate car market following earlier Honda Aero deck models," says David Strangeway, managing director of Honda (UK). "The new model combines exhilarating driving appeal and sleek styling with unprecedented flexibility – to really broaden the scope of the new Accord.
"Irrespective of whether customers prefer the restrained elegance of the saloon, or the bold, adventurous shape – and extra versatility – of the estate, we believe that the Accord offers an excellent proposition in today’s quality upper-medium market," he adds.
The new Accord Tourer will go on sale first in Japan this autumn (as the Accord Wagon) and will be available in Britain from the spring of 2003.
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