The Honda Accord returns, and the 10th-generation model brings rakish new styling and 1.5-litre turbo power
SINGAPORE — Can there possibly be 10 generations of the Honda Accord? You bet your sweet fanny, and this car is the proof. Kah Motor is launching it here next Friday as a single model: a 1.5-litre turbo with pretty much all the bells and whistles.
But Kah is pushing the new Honda Accord out into choppy waters. The market for big Japanese family saloons has never been tougher, with sport utility vehicles (SUVs) stealing sales and cheaper, smaller German offerings pinching upgraders from the class below.
Can Version 10.0 restore the Accord to former glory? We’ve had a go, and here’s what you need to know.
What’s the premise?
It’s strange to think that an Accord would need an introduction, but it hasn’t sold in huge numbers for generations now, so it’s worth recapping that it’s Honda’s big family car.
You might also be tempted by a Mercedes A 200 Saloon, which is much smaller but similar in pricing, or Volvo’s new S60 if you can stretch a bit financially, or any number of SUVs (including Honda’s excellent CR-V).
Like we said, choppy waters.
At least it stands out.
It sure does. The Accord benefits from the same rakish styling that helped to revitalise Civic sales here. Shape-wise it’s long and cigar-like with a fastback-style tail; it looks like there’s a tailgate but the Accord is a pure saloon, with four doors and a boot, and one with a nice kick-up at the trailing edge at that.
The slender LEDs up front add a dash of sportiness, while the blade of chrome that stretches across the face of the car lend it plenty of presence.
Overall the Accord manages to exude grandness without looking hefty, or maybe it’s the other way ’round.
How big is it?
At 4,901mm in length it’s actually slightly shorter than before, but it has a longer wheelbase; the body now spans 2,830mm between the axles, a good 55mm stretch.
The footprint is marginally smaller than a Camry’s, but the Accord is meaningfully bigger than, say, a Mercedes C-Class.
Presumably that means it’s big inside?
No, it’s huge. The Accord is positively cavernous in the rear (although the low roofline means you have to dip your head to enter), and when you’re back there you feel more like you’re lounging than sitting.
There must be countries where this is used with chauffeurs, because the front passenger seat has buttons to move it (a feature that the Camry shares) and there are pull-up roller window blinds.
Two USB charging ports, cupholders in the centre armrest and two air-con vents for the powerful climate control system round off the features in the back, making the Accord one of the better cars in its class to be driven in.
But I like to drive. Will I like this?
Don’t expect excitement, that’s for sure. The Accord is actually pretty fluid through corners, but it’s set up to relax you rather than stimulate you. The steering is light and geared gently, so though the chassis holds the road well the Honda doesn’t dive into bends.
But you know what? The Accord is no worse to toss through a series of lefts-and-rights than, say, an Audi A6 or Mercedes E-Class. Those cars promote calmness, too, and don’t mind being driven hard but don’t provoke such behaviour.
If anything, softer springing would probably work better with the Accord’s personality. As it is, some roads set the car jiggling (though it’s worth pointing out that the Honda’s body itself feels very rigid). On a smooth bit of highway, however, it’s lovely and refined inside.
Honda put three microphones in the cabin to pick up ambient noise and uses the speakers to cancel it out — think S$500 active noise canceling headphones but for the whole cabin — and there are resin inserts inside the wheels to dampen down that “ping” whenever a tyres bumps into a highway expansion joint.
One thing’s for sure, you’ll never have to raise your voice in the Accord (unless your kids have done something irritating in the back).
Did you say the engine is just 1.5 litres in size?
Yes, and it’s petite but punchy. In terms of oomph the Accord’s 1.5-litre turbo is the equal of a 2.5-litre without a turbo, and it’s actually responsive enough that you don’t have to floor the accelerator to get things going properly.
What helps is that the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is among the best we’ve tried, translating the engine’s torque into a seamless flow of acceleration, and responding quickly when your right foot wants to summon the horses.
Paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow the CVT to mimic a seven-speed sequential gearbox, but you’ll never feel the urge to use them.
At idle, the small engine does throb slightly, but it smoothens out as it’s revved. Keep your foot down and the engine pipes up with a voice that’s gruff-sounding at best, however. Again, it’s no different from the small German turbo four-cylinders in that respect. They all sound uncultured.
Whatever the case, there’s a sweet spot in terms of how hard you want to work the Accord’s engine, and they way it’s tuned feels pretty much spot-on for everyday traffic conditions.
It’s frugal, too. The claimed consumption figure is 6.4L/100km, which we hit on one day with the car, but with heavier use on other days the trip computer showed us 7.3L/100km — still low for such a large car.
Is it nice to be in, though?
Very nice, actually. The cabin itself is neat in a business-casual kind of way, and now that there’s an 8-inch freestanding touchscreen it looks contemporary.
Naturally, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come with the car.
The instrument cluster is half digital, with the rev needle giving way to trip computer and drive assist systems. It’s all understated and clear, and very easy to read. In the Sport driving mode there’s even a little turbo boost gauge, just for kicks.
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Most of the cabin plastics feel soft and pliant, but what’s really nice about the Accord is how the controls are solid and weighty.
The turn signal stalks, steering wheel buttons, even the climate-control knobs all work with a certain heft and precision, all clicking like pricey equipment. The a/c controls have a bit of playful colour-coding, as well.
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Sounds like a luxury car in all but name…
It pretty much is. The Accord offers all-day comfort, and there are semi-autonomous systems that take the fuss out of traffic snarls. During one jam we hardly touched the pedals, with the active cruise control system taking over the braking and accelerating.
There’s a lane-keep assist (uniquely, you switch it on when you want it, while in other cars you usually have to choose to opt out), auto braking for crash mitigation, a guardian that keeps you from running off the road… pretty much the lot. On one dark stretch of road the high beam even lit up by itself, and switched off when it detected oncoming traffic.
That stuff is part of the Honda Sensing safety suite, and instead of thinking of it as a bit of posh equipment, it’s more meaningful to recognise it as something to prevent crashes and keep your family safe.
So, this is really a big, comfy family car?
At its heart, yes. It’s just plush and refined enough to double as executive transport. The boot is deep but it isn’t very wide (and rear seats fold but don’t split), but other than that the new Accord serves up fine transport for the saloon-loving family man.
Is that the main usage case, then?
Actually, there are more. If you’re an SME owner you might want to drive this for the size, presence and comfort but not the flashiness.
Or maybe you don’t want to put up with an SUV’s thirst and lumbering behaviour but want something big.
Or maybe you like the refinement and space but don’t want to blow another S$50,000 on something comparable from Germany.
Or maybe you admire Honda’s excellent reliability record and want a bigger saloon than a Civic.
Some people will shun the Accord because it’s made in Thailand; most likely, those people have never seen the inside of any car factory. The new Honda Accord’s virtues are clear, but as big as this car is, it has no room for small-minded people.
|Engine 1,498cc, inline 4, turbocharged|
|Power 201hp at 5500rpm|
|Torque 260Nm at 1600-5000rpm|
|Gearbox Continuously Variable Transmission|
|Top Speed 190km/h|
|0-100km/h 9.1 seconds|
|Fuel efficiency 6.4L/100km|
|VES Band/CO2 B/146g/km|
|Price $160,999 with COE|
|Agent Kah Motor Co|