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Honda's desire for diesel

The Honda Accord Euro diesel has been sent Down Under for testing.

Plans are moving ahead to include an oil-burner in the new Honda Euro Accord range. Unlike most of its competitors, Honda has not developed an automatic transmission package for its diesel engines, something that has been a roadblock in any decision to bring a Honda-badged diesel to Australia ... until now.

“I think if diesel does come to Australia in a Honda it will come in manual transmission,” says Honda Australia senior director Lindsay Smalley. He is not underplaying the difficulty Honda Australia will have in getting the high-tech 2.2 i-DTEC diesel Accord Euro for Australia but with the acceptance of the manual transmission issue, the other hurdles can be overcome.

“We would love to have that car with the Honda super-clean diesel technology but there is limited supply and limited capacity to make those engines and Honda Motor is concentrating on the European market where diesel is king,” he says.

“I am sure that once that demand is satisfied and once production increases we will have a good chance at getting them for Australia.”

In 2006, Honda brought a British Accord diesel with a manual gearbox to Australia for testing.

Smalley says there is less chance the diesel version of the CR-V will make it to Australia.

“That car is made at the Swindon plant (in England) and bringing cars out of the UK is clearly much more expensive than out of Japan or Thailand,” Smalley says.

Of more concern to Smalley is the likelihood that one of the hero cars of the new Euro range, the stylish Tourer or wagon, will not make it to Australia because of a design oversight.

“We would be very keen to take the Tourer as a real branding statement and that would lift the prestige standing of the whole Honda brand but the vehicle in its current form does not comply with Australian design rules,” he says.

“The issue is rear seatbelt anchor points.”

The car has two rear child anchor points fitted to the seat squab, which happens to be the European [ISOFIX] standard.

“For Australia, however, we would need three anchor points fitted to the roof or right back near the tailgate. With investment and time it could be solved but whether it is a particularly pressing global priority for Honda ...”

The new Euro will be on sale in Australia in June, initially with a single 2.4-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder engine coupled to a five-speed automatic to compete with the Mazda6, Subaru Liberty as well as the Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata.