Potential car of the year
If it happened to be 2003, that is
HONDA’S 2013Accord brings much that is new but retains far too much thatwas familiar about the model name all of a decade ago.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
This is a competent carriage and is worthy of applause for its safety gear. But it’s far from class-leading.