The new Accord is heading back to its roots, but is it too soon to call Hondas exciting again? wheels’ Sony Thomas finds out
Honda gets closer to its more exciting roots with the new Accord.
Whenever I had the chance to review a Honda in the past, I invariably questioned the direction the carmaker was headed. Like many petrolheads who once venerated Soichiro’s namesake machines for their emphasis on driving fun, I was saddened to see the company estranging itself from its splendid history.
It’s not that all new Hondas aren’t good. In fact, they’re superbly built, highly reliable cars that sell in their millions the world over. The problem was the high expectations Honda enthusiasts had each time a new model was launched. So, not wanting to be disillusioned all over again, it was with a mix of muted enthusiasm and restrained scepticism that I waited for the 2013 Accord saloon.
I must admit it is indeed a goodlooking car. Honda has succeeded in making the new Accord look remarkably better than before without alienating those who loved the previous generation.
The car’s exterior dimensions have shrunk, with overall length reduced by 60mm and the wheelbase shortened by 25mm. This and the shortened front and rear overhangs make the design look more compact and streamlined than the eighthgeneration car. The styling is aggressive, starting from the bold redesigned grille and headlights that sweep up into the fenders, to the crisply sculpted character line that flows along the sides and the sporty and dynamic rear.
This is by far the best lookingAccord in many years, but the biggest improvement is in the interior. Despite the car’s shorter overall length and wheelbase, the Accord’s cabin is surprisingly more spacious than before, with rear legroom increased by 32mm and cargo space up by 22 litres.
The dashboard has been completely redesigned and unlike the previous model’s confusing muddle of buttons and knobs, sports much simplified controls.
The best new feature in the Accord is a camera mounted beneath the right wing mirror that activates when you indicate right and gives you a clear image of everything on the right in the 8in central monitor.
I found this feature extremely handy, as it eliminates blind spots and you don’t have to take your eyes
off the road while changing lanes. However, a second smaller screen in the middle of the dashboard seems redundant and even a bit distracting to me.
For those who shuddered at the prospect of seeing your favourite Honda engines mated to annoying CVTs, there’s good news. They haven’t made their way to our market. The 2.4-litre four-cylinder and the 3.5-litre V6 are coupled with five-speed and six-speed automatics respectively. And both these powertrains benefit from Honda’s latest engine technology, which is called, rather ludicrously, Earth Dreams.
The 276bhp V6 in my Sport trim test car is undoubtedly one of the smoothest operators in this segment. And it returns impressive fuel economy figures too. My test car returned an average of 9.8 litresper-100km over five days, which is pretty good for a V6.
Honda has also revamped the Accord’s suspension, with the front double wishbones having been replaced by MacPherson struts. While this has evidently improved the way the car handles, strangely, the ride quality has deteriorated and is not as soft as what traditional Accord buyers would be used to. But the cabin feels better insulated from noise and vibration than before. And when it comes to safety, the five-starrated Accord does not compromise at all, with six airbags protecting you from all around. It also benefits from Honda’s ACE body structure, which improves occupant protection in frontal collisions.
With its attractively aggressive styling, better dynamics and bulletproof reliability, the 2013 Accord is overall a much improved car and is definitely one that should be on your shopping list.
Although “Earth Dreams just kicked in yo!” doesn’t exactly have the most exciting ring to it, the refreshing change in direction seen in the Accord gives us some hope about the future of this brand built by the great Soichiro.
A redesigned chassis, a MacPherson strut front suspension and a steel and aluminium front subframe improve the Accord’s handling