Not a Car Review

This is a flat-out love letter

By Novella Carpenter

I almost never do car reviews. Why should I when my competition, the horrendously macho Autobuzz, takes care of all the auto-industry bootlicking? I guess I’d actually write a critical review, which Mr. Buzz never does. But, whatever–car reviews just aren’t my schtick. Or they weren’t, until I sat behind the wheel of the Honda Accord Tourer, that is.

Forget the name. It’s hard to say, but it wasn’t made for the U.S. market anyway. The beast looks like a smaller version of hip-hop favorite the Dodge Magnum. It’s all slanty-boxy with rectangular windows and an air of mystique. I acquired a British brochure for the car, which states that “the design of the Tourer was inspired by the falcon, stretched aerodynamically in full flight.” And you know, it kind of does.

A four-door with a hatchback, the Tourer is also the perfect vehicle for loading up the dog and groceries. The interior has a not-for-Americans feeling–that is, it’s small–and our big asses might complain. But, like the Mini, this one would be reserved for those of us who are svelte. The seats are comfortable and sturdy and have silver piping and accents that I adore. Canada-based Schukra designed the seats, which offer full lumbar support and adjust per your body like high-tech memory foam mattresses.

Really, though, this car isn’t about what it looks like; it’s about the amazingly fast, clean, quiet diesel engine. Called the i-CTDi, which refers to the ultra-efficient turbo direct inject (that first i stands for “intelligent,” according to the brochure, which also features a profile of Honda’s resident robot), the Tourer has a 2.2-liter engine that goes from 0 to 60 in less than 10 seconds. Remember, this is essentially a station wagon. (The Brits refer to them as “estate cars,” which is funny, until you think about how weird the term “station wagon” is.)

Overall, the Tourer is a pleasure to drive. The shifting on the five-speed manual is smooth (the accelerator pedal feels like butter), and really, by the time I got into second gear, the G-forces were in full effect. This car could get someone into trouble, which seems surprising for a diesel. Part of that is the amazing torque generated by the engine: at 2,000 RPMs, the Tourer generates 251 pound-feet of torque, which slams your head back in the seat like you’re Sonny Crockett.

Alas, the Tourer isn’t–and probably won’t ever be–available in the United States. Why would I cruelly choose to review a car not available to you? Because, dear reader, I’d like you to go to your Honda dealership, walk up to that counter and demand–demand!–the Tourer. We’ve had this myth circulating for too many years now that Americans have the good life in terms of material items, and it’s just that: a myth. Europeans, the Japanese–now they have the real quality items, including cars, because they demand it of their automakers.

Some of you may be wondering how yours truly got to take a spin around the block in the Tourer. Friends of friends know people from the Robert Bosch Corp., which brought the car into the States with a waiver that said it would be used for testing and demonstration purposes only.

Michael Coates from the PR firm Mightcomm is working with Bosch to promote Bosch’s common rail diesel injection system for Honda, among other companies, including BMW and VW. The system allows for major efficiency which in turn means less fuel consumed and fewer pollutants produced. Perhaps with the mandate of ultralow sulfur in the States in 2007, we’ll eventually get ourselves some of these quality diesel engines. Until then, I’m not going to write any more car reviews. Maybe.

Novella is not a car columnist. E-mail her at [email protected]

From the August 3-9, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.

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