Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Thai Honda Accord gets good marks overseas

New Honda Accord

The new Honda Accord which is made in Thailand has received some good marks from e-magazine, with their summing up of the new Accord being “Sharp value and quality finishes help the Honda Accord stand out among more established large car peers.”
The review went further noting the good points as being:
“Sharp pricing
Plenty of equipment for the money
Spacious and stylish interior
Quality materials and finishes
Strong attention to detail
Economical four cylinder for a large sedan.”
Having driven the new shape Accord, which I think looks absolutely fabulous from all angles, I do agree with their tester’s comments. The spaciousness inside in particular, and the attention to detail in the finish. In many ways, this car is a tribute to the Thai workers who screw these things together.
The Australian spec Accord gets a dual zone climate control air-conditioning system, cruise control, power windows, remote locking, six-stack CD player and an input jack for iPods and other MP3 players. You also get leather seats, a sunroof, heated front seats and a powered driver’s seat. There’s also things like front fog lights and larger, 17 inch alloy wheels.
“It makes for a comprehensive package that’s made better by the upmarket interior presentation. The made in Thailand Honda Accord boasts restrained use of chrome as well as silver touches inside and a quality, tactile collection of interior plastics that are a step up from the asking price.
“The Accord’s 2.4 liter four cylinder manages a respectable 133 kW of power. The engine does a reasonable job and is happy to be revved hard to glean better performance. It gets vocal towards the upper end off the rev range, though.
“The upside of the Accord - and it’s a big one these days - is relatively frugal fuel use. Its claimed 8.8 liters per 100 km consumption is some 15 percent better than its prime Holden/Ford six-cylinder rivals.”
With a large body and a relatively small engine, the new Accord is not one to buy if you are looking for a sporting saloon. Go and look at an upper range BMW if that is what you want (and be prepared to pay for the privilege).
Comfort and practicality is what really makes the new Accord stand out, especially when you look at what you get for the price (1.2 million baht and upwards to around 1.6 million depending on level). gave it five stars out of five. “Impressive interior space for the new Accord, something that’s amplified with the angled dash that sits relatively low. Rear seat space, too, is generous, even for large adults. The seats, though, could do with more lateral support.” Their overall verdict was “Four Star, large car newcomer worth a look if driving excitement isn’t a priority.”
I would probably agree with most of their review, though I do not agree with looking at “driving excitement” in a car which is obviously not designed to be a sporting chariot. For me, the comfort and practicality at the price is what makes the new Accord a stand-out amongst others in that group.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that Mercedes-Benz tried to make a come-back in motor racing in 1951. I asked where and what cars did they run? The answer was the Peron Cups in Argentina and the cars were the 1939 Mercedes W 163’s (though some claim it was the W 154, running the M 163 engine). (They were not successful!)
So to this week. An easy one. Where did the Sex-Auto come from? Hint: It was not Patpong Road.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


Chevrolet Cruze - the new Optra?
Finally, GM can see that its future (survival) depends upon good looking small fuel efficient motor cars. Even in Detroit, the home of large capacity American iron.

Chevrolet Cruze

The new Chevrolet Cruze looks like being the replacement for Chevrolet’s rebadged Daewoo Lacetti - which became the Chevrolet Optra.
It will become a new global small car for GM and hits European showrooms in March 2009 before launching in other global markets. The five-seater coupe-style sedan is reported to have been developed in Germany and designed in South Korea.

Finally, the gift for someone who has everything!
Here it is, a James Bond style watch from Jaeger LeCoultre and the AMVOX2 DBS Transponder watch has a license to unlock the doors of your car.

The ultimate watch?

James Bond’s famous ‘Q’ branch gadgets have taken a step into the real world with a new watch that controls access to your car, just like the remote locking key ring.
The 18 carat pink-gold watch will be unveiled publicly on the eve of October’s Paris motor show, becoming an exclusive, circa-$50,000 gift for the driver who has everything.
Owners can simply unlock the doors by approaching the car and pressing ‘Open’ (there are no buttons) located between 8 and 9 o’clock on the sapphire-crystal watch glass. The car can be locked by pressing ‘Close’ between 3 and 4 o’clock.
Jaeger-LeCoultre spent over 18 months to develop the watch, where engineers worked on shrinking the transponder to a size and weight that could fit inside a watchcase. The result is a transponder that weighs just a few grams and is half the size of the same system inside the DSB keyfob.
Watches have been a popular Q-branch gadget throughout the James Bond franchise, designed for various uses including a garotte, magnet, buzz-saw, radio transmitter, TV monitor, and remote bomb detonator.
There is only one requirement before you get this watch for the car enthusiast you want to surprise. You have to order it when he or she lines up for a new Aston Martin DBS V12.

What did we learn from Valencia?
The first thing we learned was that despite producing a reasonable orange, Valencia certainly managed to produce a dreadfully boring Grand Prix. It was so boring, the only exciting information that James Allen could give us was the fact that there will be the annual tomato throwing competition next week. I suggest that next year they combine the Grand Prix and the Tomato Throwing. Fans can then throw oranges at Bernie and the FIA stewards, and tomatoes at the F1 procession which takes place around Valencia’s streets.
I will get to the race, but let’s deal with the stewards decision first. Massa’s Ferrari is released into the path of Adrian Sutil’s Vindaloo Special. Well covered by TV, guilty as charged, yer Honor. However, the chicken excreta stewards say their decision will be given after the race. After? What were they waiting for? A brown envelope from Ferrari perhaps? Or perhaps a word from Bernie? However, one hour later they did hand down their decision. With the wisdom of Solomon, Massa was found not guilty, but fined 10,000 euros and given a reprimand! Come on, chaps. If he’s not guilty, why the fine? Cluck, cluck, cluck and another handful of corn for the stewards. Mind you, what Massa is going to do with that incredible trophy, I do not know. Obviously the Valencia people had forgotten about a trophy for the winner and in desperation stole the rudder from some yacht in the harbor!
Perhaps much can be explained by the first lap demise of the Sulky Spaniard after being rear ended by the Kamikaze Kid in the Williams. With no Spaniard in the race, the television schedule was thrown into complete chaos. In fact, the TV director probably expected the race to be stopped, but he didn’t know about our Bernie, did he? In actual fact, if they had stopped the race it would have been more exciting.
And so to the race. Did anyone see any passing? I didn’t, other than another of Coulthard’s super-optimistic lunges that didn’t come off. I’ll miss him next year. The other drivers won’t though. Raikkonen needs his bottom spanked for another surly performance. Kubica got a plastic bag stuck under his nose which slowed him for a couple of laps, but a quick sneeze and he was back up to speed. As for the rest? Forget it!

A fuel in paradise?
I received this letter from a confused Chiang Mai resident:
“I would like some advice and maybe it is also interesting for your readers. I am a permanent resident of Chiang Mai. I drive a Mazda 323 automatic bought new in August 2000. I always used petrol 95. That is not available anymore. Now I have to use petrol 91. I can hear and feel it is less good for my car. I would like to use Gasohol. But the Mazda garage told me that I can not use it in my car. I read in the newspapers that maybe there will come a time that petrol 91 is also not available anymore. I went back to my Mazda garage but they still told me I can not use gasohol. After I told them what to do if petrol 91 is not available they told me then I have to use gasohol? I am totally confused now. My friend who drives the same Mazda, bought also in 2000, uses gasohol already for three years and did not discover any problems. Meanwhile in the Bangkok Post there is a discussion about E85 and the use or misuse of a magic box which you can put in your engine to change from petrol to E85. I would appreciate it if you can shine some light on this matter. I will not be the only one with this problem.
Thanks, Annelie, Chiang Mai
Dear Annelie,
You are quite correct, you are not the only one with this problem, and quite frankly, the conflicting stories from the government has not helped. Now they are promoting E 85, and before that E 20 and E 10 and the ecocar which is supposed to run on petrol, or ethanol, or diesel, or pineapple juice. Who would know?
Since we only have one car in Thailand that can run on E 85 (the Volvo C30), this is not going to produce a queue at the pumps (sorry, pump). The manufacturers are also saying that there is not enough tax incentive for them to bring in E 85 compatible vehicles. It is currently a schmozzle.
Now getting back to your problem with the Mazda 323 (a great little car by the way), I would be listening to your local Mazda agent. It will run on 91 octane fuel, though the spark may have to be retarded just a tad. They can do that for you. I also do believe that 91 gasoline will be available for many years, so I wouldn’t worry yet. Forget 91 gasohol, in my opinion. The savings at the pump do not counter balance the increase in consumption with gasohol blends. Finally, forget ‘magic boxes’. To change to ethanol based E 85 fuels requires more than a little tweaking of the engine spark system. If it were that easy to convert, your local manufacturer’s agent would be equipping all their new cars with it.