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Downsized or Rightsized?

Downsized or Rightsized?

The Honda Accord is among the best-selling cars in the United States – along with its arch nemesis the Toyota Camry – as well as in most other countries where it competes with its arch nemesis. Today, the tenth generation Accord is larger, more technological and spacious. But it has downsized in one crucial area – the engine. While the ninth generation could be had with a 3.5L V6, the tenth’s biggest powerplant is a 2.0L four. The base engine is also downsized – a 1.5L turbo, the smallest displacement engine ever fitted to an Accord since it debuted in 1976 with a 1.6L base engine.

The Accord nameplate has spanned a wide variety of body styles – it debuted as a hatchback, then became a sedan, with a wagon and coupe variant too. The name “Accord” was chosen by Honda to reflect their desire for accord and harmony between society and the automobile. Today, the Accord is Honda’s largest sedan in the range and still very relevant in many markets. Honda even made Type R / Euro R variants for the Accord that were met with much acclaim and are still very much sought after.

While Hondas are no longer made in Japan for the international markets, the Accord brought down by Stafford Motors hails from Honda’s Thailand factory, and comes only as a sedan, worldwide.

While I had driven the L15 1.5 VTEC turbo four in the Civic RS last year and enjoyed it, I was keen to find out if it would similarly sparkle in the larger and heavier Accord body. Let’s find out…

 

Exterior

The tenth generation Accord is styled by Toshinobu Minami and carries Honda’s current corporate face and styling cues all over. The front has similarities with the Insight – particularly the multi-LED headlamps. Move to the sides and you are faced with a plethora of curves, creases and details which all seem to gel well, and I particularly liked that the Accord didn’t appear “tall-boy” as is typical of most sedans nowadays. The small “third window” behind the rear doors helps here too, and behind that is a chrome detail that is reminiscent of a lady who has just done her eye makeup. All-in-all, it’s an interesting side profile. The shark fin radio antenna also makes an appearance, and all are finished in the Modern Steel Metallic paintwork of our test car. Other colours include Lunar Silver, Crystal Black and Platinum White – a monochrome palette to pick from. I suppose you could get other colours on special order, but best check this with the agents.

Moving to the back, the C-shaped rear lamps stretch partially across the boot lid and their shape once again dispels any “tall-boy” looks. At the bottom of the bumper are twin exhaust outlets which have exhaust pipes behind them, so not just for show.

The 18-inch alloys look smart too and are of a different design to the ones seen on the myriad of 1.0L Civics and Vezels which was becoming a bit tiring to see. I must add that they sit well in the arches too, with a minimal wheel gap.

 

Mech & Tech

The 1,497cc L15 VTEC turbo engine that powers the Accord is boosted with 20.2psi of boost (highest application for this engine – it’s on 16.5psi in the Civic RS) to produce 192bhp at 5,500rpm and 260Nm of torque in a broad 1,600 – 5,000rpm rev band. It feeds its power to the front wheels through a CVT with 7-step manual mode and paddle shifters. As we have seen with the Civic RS, this engine does accept a fair bit of tuning easily, so an Accord owner could seek that avenue to increase power if so inclined. If you have deeper pockets - and are willing to stomach the taxation of a 2.0L engine, you can also get a de-tuned 2.0L engine from the current generation Type R with 252bhp.

The steering is via an electric rack, suspension is McPherson up front and multi-link at the rear. Braking is via discs all-round (ventilated at the front).

It’s got a lot of safety tech – Honda’s thrown the proverbial kitchen sink at it in the shape of the Sensing package, which will be discussed in the Safety section as it’s more relevant to that.

 

Driving Experience

Step in, settle into the cushioned leather seat and it’s an aura of comfort. The 8-way power adjustable seat envelops you in soft leather – even your head sinks slightly into the headrest – although the bolsters hold your sides in place. It’s also got power lumbar and two memory pre-sets. The front passenger gets an electric seat too. The engine hums lightly as you power it up. Select D, release the electric park brake and you are off.

If you want to pootle around town, just leave it in D, enable Eco mode and let the engine and gearbox do their thing. Mind you, being a Honda, if you give it full beans, it will still pick up its skirts and run, revving all the way to the redline and pushing you into your seat with verve you wouldn’t expect from a 1.5L propelling a car of this size. I like the fact that under hard driving in auto, the gearbox tends to introduce ‘steps’ rather than behaving like a typical rubber-band CVT. All good for you, or your driver when you just want to relax. The throttle is fairly easy to modulate, the steering weight is just right and the brakes progressive.

How about hard driving? Sport button pressed, Eco mode off and the rev counter display (the only analog dial is the speedo, everything else is digital), changes to include a turbo boost gauge. Use the paddles and the Accord can really be hustled along. On one run, a well-driven BMW i3 emerged behind us and burying the throttle was enough to keep him at bay – he was able to keep up but not overtake until I pulled over to the left lane and let him past.

This paddle shift gearbox is one of the most pleasing I have used. The paddles themselves don’t feel much different to others, but the way they work is brilliant in that they work dumb. They let you, the driver, make decisions, only providing gentle guidance if you are going to do something stupid like shift down into a gear that will grenade your engine – they step in gently but firmly then. You can also hold it at high revs, unless you fully floor it at which point the gearbox will shift up at the redline rather than leaving you banging off the limiter and looking like a loon. At all other times, it’s all in your hands, literally. I was able to cruise at 60km/h in 7th gear, 40km/h in 5th gear and fully flooring the throttle in those gears didn’t cause a downshift – if I wanted to downshift, I had to do it myself. Kudos, Honda!

On to ride and handling. The ride is smooth generally, it was a tad firm as our test car was riding on 40psi pressures, but even then, nothing that would irk your passengers – even the fussy ones. The handling is decent too. You are definitely aware that this is a big car, so don’t think you can hustle it like a Civic, but it is competent at long sweeping corners without rolling much. Push it very hard and you will be able to get some roll, but if you are pushing an Accord that hard, you shouldn’t complain, given that the Accord is a comfort cruiser.

Braking is a similarly competent affair with a very well weighted and progressive pedal which I did put to the floor from triple digits, causing photographer Chamila and one of the gentlemen from Stafford Motors who were sitting in the back to intimately meet the front seat backs (hey, I did warn them!) and the Accord stopped true with some tyre squeal. This is to simulate what would happen if say, a dog ran across while you were driving at 100km/h on an expressway. The recommended course of action is not to slam the brakes or swerve, but brake more gently to shed some speed and maintain your trajectory – OK all the animal lovers will be angry with me now, but I maintain my stance from a point of safety, the majority of vehicles will definitely not respond well if you try a brake slam from 100km/h, and you may end up with fatal results. However, if you are the terrified sort who slams on your brakes when a crow perches in the middle of the road 200 metres away, your Accord will stop straight and true – although same cannot be said of the vehicle behind you…

I also love Honda’s implementation of a camera on the left-hand-side mirror that shows on the main display whenever you switch on the left signal light. This really helps you see the creeping bikes, wayward trishaws, as well as ensure you have enough clearance to merge back in when changing lanes or after overtaking. You can activate this camera anytime with a button on the end of the indicator / headlamp stalk too.

 

Living with the Accord 

Where to start? It’s got comfortable and spacious seats front and rear – the rear legroom is fantastic but then Honda have figured out black magic with this for years now. I was able to sit very comfortably behind my driving position, and an adult could have sat on my lap and still wouldn’t have touched the front seat with their knees. All seats are soft and squishy leather. Dual-zone climate control is present with rear vents, and the climate control knobs briefly light up as you use them – blue if you turn temperature down, red if you turn it up. Very neat, and a welcome departure from the Civic’s all-touch climate control which was criticized in some markets because of being all-touch. It’s got a mass of cubbies, nooks and crannies, and decent cupholders too and several USB charging ports – two for the rear alone, two for the front and a wireless phone charger too (Qi standard). The rear armrest folds down and allows through access to the boot as well, and the rear seats are split folding (60-40).

Infotainment consists of a 7-inch touchscreen with physical buttons on either side. It plays through ten speakers and has Radio, AUX, USB, Bluetooth, HDMI input, Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Sound quality is great and can be customized too.

If you are a rear left side passenger, you can move the left passenger seat forwards and tilt the backrest too with buttons. You also have blinds in the rear – a classier solution than tinted glass. The boot is a 470L affair which is more than enough for a family trip.

 

Safety 

The Accord comes with the Honda Sensing suite which includes auto braking, collision mitigation, lane departure alert, lane keeping, adaptive cruise control. It also has 8 airbags, ABS, stability control, hill start assist, driver attention monitor, reverse tilt mirror and ISOFIX mountings for child seats. No surprise at its Top Safety Pick rating by IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) in the USA, then.

 

Fuel Economy & Price 

For a 1.5L turbo engine propelling a large sedan, don’t expect hybrid figures. Malaka from Stafford tells me they expect 7-8km/l in city and 15km/l on the expressways. This is a reasonable and realistic figure and I would have guessed similar. If you buy a car like this, you don’t quibble over fuel economy (unless it’s less than 5km/l, say).

Price is the real kicker. Thanks to our “brilliant, rational and intuitive – NOT” taxation policies, the Accord has actually benefitted by being “just” 12.9 million, or approx. 9 million for permit holders. Contrast this to its traditional competitors such as the Toyota Camry and Nissan Teana – both which have engines over 2.0L and you can imagine the taxation – those cars will be nearer 20 million! Hyundai and Kia make nice mid to large cars too, but once again, taxation will be against them – not to mention the irrational negative perception that our market has on anything that is not Japanese – never mind that most of the Japanese cars aren’t made in Japan anymore.

The warranty offered by Stafford is 2 years or 40,000 kilometres (whichever occurs first), with two free services.

 

Final Words 

When I came to test the Accord, I was sceptical. Yes, it had the Civic RS engine which I so enjoyed, but is a bigger and heavier car. However, after driving it I have to say that it is quite something – even more so when you consider the price. It’s probably the cheapest brand-new option of this size that offers this level of space and power at the price. It drives well, has all the toys,

Of course, there is a plethora of smaller metal that carries premium European badges, and is actually cheaper, but then again, those are from a segment, or two, or even three below the Accord. It all depends on your priorities, but if your budget is circa 13 million and you have a family, you’d be a thorough muppet to not at least consider an Accord and take it for a test drive – with the family in tow too.

Would I have an Accord, if I could afford it? If I was 40+ with two kids and a part-time driver who I could engage whenever I felt a little tired, yes. But now, at 30, happily married and no kids yet, I’d take a Civic RS instead (which also costs similar, thanks to the beautifully crafted taxation system). Pity Honda don’t make a manual Civic RS…oh wait they do, for the US market in LHD only…if only there was a way…Hmmm…

 

Tech Specs

Engine

1,498cc, 4-cylinder

VTEC, turbo

192bhp @ 5,500rpm

260Nm @ 1,600-5,000rpm

 

Transmission

CVT with 7-speed mode

Paddle shifters

Front-wheel-drive

 

Suspension

Front McPherson

Rear Multilink

 

Brakes

Front Vent. Disc

Rear Disc

ABS, EBD

 

Wheels & Tyres

Front 235/45 R18

Rear 235/45 R18

 

Performance

0-100km/h in 8.0s

Top speed 195km/h

*manufacturer figures

 

Misc

Length 4,890mm

Width 1,860mm

Height 1,450mm

Kerb Weight 1,450kg

Fuel Tank 56L

Boot Space 480L