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This Is Not a Car Review

Why would I cruelly choose to review a car not available to you? Because, dear reader, I want you to go to your Honda dealership and demand—demand!—the Tourer

By Novella Carpenter

I ALMOST NEVER do car reviews. Why should I when my competition, the macho Autobuzz, takes care of all the auto-industry bootlicking? I guess I'd actually write a critical review, which Mr. Buzz never does. Car reviews just aren't my shtick—that is, until I sat behind the wheel of the Honda Accord Tourer.

Forget the name; it's hard to say, but the Tourer wasn't made for the U.S. market anyway. The beast looks like a smaller version of the 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, "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 to your body like high-tech mattresses.

Really, though, this car isn't about what it looks like; it's about the fast, clean, quiet diesel engine, called the i-CTDi, which refers to the ultraefficient turbo direct inject. (That first "i" stands for "intelligent" according to the brochure.) The Tourer has a 2.2-liter engine that goes 060 in under 10 seconds—remember this is essentially a station wagon.

Overall, the Tourer is a pleasure to drive. The shifting on the five-speed manual is smooth, the accelerator pedal is 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: at 2,000 rpm, the Tourer generates 251 pound-feet of torque, which can slam your head back in the seat.

Alas, the Tourer isn't—and probably won't ever be—available here. Why would I cruelly choose to review a car not available to you? Because, dear reader, I want you to go to your Honda dealership and demand—demand!—the Tourer. (Practice saying it a few times before going in, OK?). 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, 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 with the Tourer. Friends of friends know people from the Robert Bosch Corp, which brought the car into the United 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 (CRD) injection system for Honda, among other companies, including BMW and VW. The CRD system allows for major efficiency, which means less fuel and fewer pollutants. He notes that Mightcomm's goal is "to present information on current clean diesel technology to lawmakers, regulators, the environmental community, media and others. We've found using a vehicle running with CRD is one of the most striking ways of presenting the story, which, of course, we back up with information on the European market and diesel's popularity, the CO2 reductions that diesel has contributed to and the advances the CRD technology has made in the past decade."

Perhaps with the mandate of ultralow sulfur 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.

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From the August 3-9, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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