Po­ten­tial car of the year

If it hap­pened to be 2003, that is

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - STUART MARTIN stuart.martin@carsguide.com.au

HONDA’S 2013Ac­cord brings much that is new but re­tains far too much that­was fa­mil­iar about the model name all of a decade ago.

VALUE

We’re spend­ing time in the VTi-L model, which starts from $41,490 but when op­tioned up to in­clude Ad­vanced Driver As­sist Sys­tem (ADAS), the price tag rises to a not un­sub­stan­tial $44,990. That buys a lot of Mazda6.

The Ac­cord’s four-cylin­der gets two dis­play screens (one be­ing touch-con­trolled) a seven-speaker Blue­tooth sound sys­tem, real-time sat­nav, du­al­zone cli­mate con­trol with rear vents, key­less en­try and ig­ni­tion, power-ad­justable and heated front seats, 18-inch al­loy wheels and a full-size spare.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The Ac­cord is pow­ered by a new 2.4-litre i-VTE Cal­loy en­gine de­liv­er­ing 129kW of power at 6200rp­mand 225Nm of torque at 4000rpm— a4 kW drop but with one ex­tra Newton me­tre on of­fer.

Fuel econ­omy is a claimed 8.1L/100km thanks to vari­able in­take valve tim­ing and lift. At the launch ear­lier this year, the head Honda type in­sisted this en­gine is new. Let’s just say it breaks no fresh ground.

Abit like the trans­mis­sion, which— at a time when six ra­tios are thought too few— sticks to five.

At least the pad­dle-shifters pro­vide gen­uine “hit-the-lim­iter” man­ual gear changes in Sport mode. Hon­das like to rev, which is as well given the lack of lowdown torque.

The quiet, re­fined cabin can be at­trib­uted to im­proved air flow, sound in­su­la­tion on the bon­net and in wheel arches, ac­tive en­gine mounts to re­duce vi­bra­tion and an ac­tive noise can­celling sys­tem. It uses in­cabin mi­cro­phones and the car’s sound sys­tem (when on or off) to coun­ter­act, says Honda, low-end driv­e­train fre­quen­cies by as much as 10 deci­bels.

DE­SIGN

It’s a look less likely to turn heads than en­thral those in­ter­ested in spot­ting the sub­stan­tive dif­fer­ences be­tween the new and the pre­vi­ous model.

Con­ser­va­tive is a kind word for it. The in­te­rior con­tin­ues the low-key theme, with qual­ity feel to the build and com­fort­able leather-trimmed seat­ing.

Cabin space is ad­e­quate. I can sit be­hind my own 191cm tall driv­ing po­si­tion with only mi­nor con­cerns about head­room and boot space is a claimed 457L (Com­modore has 496L, Camry 515L), with the abil­ity to fold the rear seat backs. The re­sult­ing aper­ture is not ex­actly a gap­ing hole by any means, nor is it a split-fold ar­range­ment, but at least there is some ac­cess. Hello, Com­modore?

SAFETY

The Ac­cord has what once would have been a solely Volvo ar­ray of safety fea­tures, in­clud­ing adap­tive LED head­lights, LaneWatch blind spot mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem (which dis­plays an 80-de­gree view from a cam­era be­neath the left-hand mir­ror whent he in­di­ca­tor is em­ployed.

The $3500 op­tion of ADAS adds adap­tive cruise con­trol, col­li­sion-warn­ing and the lane­keep­ing as­sist func­tion, which gen­tly steers the car if it de­cides the driver isn’t pay­ing at­ten­tion and is drift­ing out of the lane.

Yet the Ac­cord gets only four stars from ANCAP. Why? Be­cause of the in­tru­sive foot-op­er­ated park brake— a sure sign that this fun­da­men­tally re­mains an old car.

DRIV­ING

There’s a lot to be said for a more se­date pace of life and the Ac­cord de­liv­ers a re­laxed jour­ney. Cabin com­fort is good and driv­ers can set them­selves up eas­ily and lock driv­ing po­si­tion into a mem­ory matched to a key fob.

The lit­tle four is a smooth and will­ing worker, spin­ning through the revs but dozy lower down. Slip­ping the five-speed (oh for an ex­tra ra­tio) into Sport mode off­sets some of that but af­fects con­sump­tion, which is al­ready high by class stan­dards.

Steer­ing is cruisily light and not overly talk­a­tive. In cor­ners it leans a lit­tle, set­tles and goes as di­rected.

VERDICT

This is a com­pe­tent car­riage and is wor­thy of ap­plause for its safety gear. But it’s far from class-lead­ing.

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