Having a 300-hp Honda Jazz (Fit) as a track car is all well and good, but something slightly more practical is in order when it comes to the daily commute. At least that's the conclusion that Rob Barber from Dublin, Ireland, came to. But as the owner of ICETronix, one of Ireland's premier Honda tuning facilities, it had to be something special. It is, and he can thank his dad for that.
"Two years ago we imported one of the first Euro R Accords into the country for my dad, when they were really rare," Rob says. "Of course, I drove it and it was great; it was reasonably quick, comfortable, and looked absolutely gorgeous in the Arctic Blue. It caused a lot of attention wherever we went." As you might expect, Rob elected to get his own. The CL7 Accord is anything but similar to the raced-out hatchbacks Rob's accustomed to--he admits as much. "It comes with the K20 engine, which I love--perhaps it's a sign of growing up," he says.
Rob's '04 Accord arrived from Japan in early 2008 and cost him the equivalent of $35K. "It came fitted with pieces from the genuine Mugen body kit," Rob says. "It also had TEIN coilovers, which are fantastic and very comfortable." As you'd expect, Rob's made improvements of his own--everyone knows that making something good even better is almost always possible.
"The Accord comes standard with 17s, but we put on bigger wheels to improve the looks," Rob says. "We ran a 225/45-18 tire, and with that size there was still a good amount of comfort, which made it lovely for everyday use as it soaked up the bumps, even on the back roads. It did make the gears slightly longer though and I wasn't really happy with that; it wasn't as sharp as it could have been and I had to rev it to the limit in every gear."
Rob's solution was to modify the transmission's gear ratios by fitting a 5.1:1 final-drive gear from the latest Civic Type R paired with a UK-spec Accord Type S's Sixth gear. "The result was a car with much better acceleration than the standard Accord Euro R," Rob says. "And it now has a long Sixth gear for cruising on the motorway. I can do 150 kph (93.2 mph) at just 4,000 rpm and I'm still getting about 600 kilometers (372 miles) to a tank, although I'm not really sure how big the tank is." For Rob's reference, the Accord Euro R's tank measures in at just under 15 gallons and, with Ireland's fuel prices hitting just over the equivalent to our seven bucks a gallon, filling the Accord up is never enjoyable.
Along with the horsepower bump, which now registers at 270 hp thanks to Skunk2 camshafts, a Fujitsubo exhaust, and a Hondata reflash, Rob's also improved the CL7's stopping potential. "I got Brembo calipers from a DC5 Integra and machined the brackets to make them fit, and I've kept the standard Accord discs," Rob says.
Inside the Accord, there's little want for improving the supportive and comfortable Recaros, although Rob has upgraded the standard entertainment. "The original factory stereo is built into the dashboard and is extremely difficult to change," Rob says. "I tracked down a company in the U.S. that sells a replacement panel to allow me to fit a non-standard headunit, and after a few wiring mods, we got it working. It's an old unit that I had fitted in my NSX (yeah, he's owned one of those too) and it's got a vehicle dynamics processor, which uses GSM (Groupe Special Mobile) technology to tell me exact readings for things like speed, acceleration, even G-Forces."
Rob's been daily driving the Accord for the past year or so but hasn't managed to resist the temptation of taking it onto his local track, despite the risks involved. How did it cope? "It did okay," Rob tells us. "But the suspension is too soft for the track, as I expected, and there was quite a lot of roll. The chassis seemed excellent and I could feel it wanting to turn into the corners but the suspension just couldn't control the weight shift. There were no problems with either the engine or the brakes though."
Rob says the Accord is likely to remain in its current state for some time. Perhaps. "Well, maybe I could do a bit more engine work," he admits. "But at the moment, it's a very good mix; it looks fantastic, it's reasonably economic--thanks to that new Sixth gear, and when it matters, it's certainly quick enough. It even handles well on the back roads." It can even carry four adults in total luxury. What more could you want from a daily driver?