Mo­tor­ing

The new Ac­cord is head­ing back to its roots, but is it too soon to call Hon­das ex­cit­ing again? wheels’ Sony Thomas finds out

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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

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