2007 Honda Accord i-CTDi Diesel

2007 Honda Accord i-CTDi Diesel 2007 Honda Accord i-CTDi Diesel
Short Take Road Test

It’s rare that we test two-year-old cars, but this particular Accord is rarer—in the U.S., anyway—than burlesque houses in a Texan polygamy camp. Under the hood is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, but twist the key in this Accord, and it explodes to life in a lumpy jolt before settling softly into the characteristic, chugging idle of a small diesel.

If you are looking at the car on these pages and thinking, “That’s not an Accord!” you’re right and you’re wrong. It is not an Accord as we know it here in the States, but it is an Accord elsewhere in the world. What we know here as the Acura TSX is sold in Europe and Japan as the Honda Accord. Honda has confirmed that it will bring a diesel Accord to the U.S. in 2009. We’re not big on waiting, though, so we borrowed a 2007 Accord (that equates to our 2004–08 TSX) with a similar diesel under the hood from Bosch, which developed the fuel-injection system for the engine.

At moderate speeds, the 138-hp diesel is exceedingly smooth and quiet. Below half-throttle and at cruising speeds, the only noise is the slight whistling of the turbo. We measured 73 decibels cruising at 70 mph—decently quiet, but five higher than in a similar TSX we tested.

Diesel = Torque: Have We Covered This Before?

It’s happy as low as 1300 rpm, but the power starts at about 1600, with a whopping 251 pound-feet of torque (55 percent more than the current four-cylinder Accord) available at 2000 rpm. There is a nearly imperceptible difference between 70- or 80-percent throttle and flat-footing it, meaning the car feels quick when driven at about 8/10th, but sluggish when it’s really hammered. It took 8.9 seconds to wind the speedo to 60 mph and 16.8 to get through the quarter-mile at 82 mph. The last TSX we tested ran 7.2 and 15.7 at 91.

The turbo is slow to spool up, meaning horrendous lag. In dedicated back-road blitzing, you have to nail the throttle long before the apex in order to be on the power when you exit a turn. Despite the less-sporting engine, the rest of the car remains just as g-addicted as the TSX, with wonderfully neutral handling for a front-driver and a ride-and-handling balance that pleases both enthusiastic drivers and nagging passengers.

The seat to be in remains the one with the wheel and pedals in front of it. Steering is accurate and quick, with solid feedback and pleasant heft. The shifter in this car is a little less precise and has longer throws than the TSX’s, but that’s like saying your Fourth of July celebration was less spectacular than the Mount St. Helens eruption—falling short doesn’t necessarily mean it was boring. And the clutch is arguably an improvement, with longer, smoother takeup that is easier to modulate than the TSX’s snappy-quick pedal.

Diesel = Fuel Economy: Have We Covered This Before?

While gas costs are skyrocketing, diesel prices are seemingly strapped with an additional booster rocket or three. Even so, it was cheaper to drive the diesel Accord per mile than the last TSX we drove. We observed 51 mpg on a 150-mile highway loop at 70 mph and only managed to bring our overall figure down to 32 mpg by hammering the Accord around town and through our usual testing regimen. Assuming $4 a gallon for gas, the 25 mpg we observed in an identical TSX works out to 16 cents per mile. If diesel costs $4.80 a gallon, our overall observed economy of 32 mpg means 15 cents per mile, and that includes some pretty aggressive miles.

We’ll be looking to drive this powertrain in a U.S.-market Accord soon. A perennial 10Best Cars winner with a smooth, powerful, and more efficient engine? Like Barry Bonds and performance-enhancing pills, it should make for a home run.