It happens quite often in this line of work; following the ‘official’ launch and media drive of a new car, the importers will do a second round of test-drives for their latest baby, so that those who attended the drive can have a second go at the car for a bit longer, as well as provide a chance for those who were unable to attend the official media drive of the car to review it. So with the glitz and glamour of the launch over and done with, and after the spotlights have faded and the fog-machines put to rest; how does the new Accord stack-up in real life?
AF had attended the official media drive of the new Accord, and we’d even made a video review of it, however, we still wanted to have another round with the car that’s causing the mighty Camry a bit of worry. Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd (HMSB) began rotating the new Accord once again recently, and we decided to go for the top-of-the-line 2.4 VTi-L, a car that costs about RM170k and then some, which puts it squarely in the territory of its arch-nemesis, the Toyota Camry.
Well, in actual fact, it puts the Accord in a price bracket that’s populated by some very, very good cars, from Japan, Europe and yes, S.Korea too. Isn’t it amazing that I could add S.Korea to that accolade? Merely a decade ago, that would be unheard of. So the Honda Accord has some serious competition up against it; the fight has never been this closely matched in the past. How does it stack up, especially now that Nissan has officially launched the new third-generation Teana, with prices starting at just RM140k?
The Accord is built using Honda’s ‘man maximum, machine minimum’ design philosophy, and they’ve been building cars from the ‘inside-out’ for a while now, which means they’ve gotten really, really good at it. Nowhere is this more evident than inside the new Accord. There’s a phenomenal amount of leg-room for both the front and rear passengers, as well as an absolutely gargantuan boot. Even with the 8-way electronically-adjustable driver’s seat all the back on its rails (for the record I’m 6’2″ and I didn’t have to push the driver’s seat all the way back to drive) there’s still an incredible amount of legroom for the rear passenger.
It’s actually quite incredible just how much room there is in the new Accord, but it’s not just that. In an effort to make the drive as pleasurable as possible, Honda used ‘active noise/sound control’ to basically cancel-out noise intrusion in the cabin. A series of microphones in the car picks-up ambient noise and hidden speakers emit their own low-frequency to cancel it out, and this includes engine noise too.
Speaking of which, the 2.4VTi-L is quite a strong and silent performer. It’s capable of 175bhp and 225Nm of torque. Power goes to the front wheels via a 5-speed automatic transmission. Its party trick though, is the Active Lane Watch camera. Positioned under the left wing-mirror, a small camera provides images of everything that’s happening in the driver’s blind-spot. So instead of a flashing warning triangle, or red hazard sign, the moment the left indicator is activated, the 8-inch i-Mid (Intelligent Multi-function Display) screen that sits eye-level with the driver instantly displays real-time video of everything that’s at a 45-degree angle to the driver’s rear left side (below). The screen also doubles up as a reverse camera display.
In terms of active and passive safety, the Accord scores well too with dual-front airbags and side-curtain airbags, vehicle stability assist, ABS, EBD, motion-adaptive power-steering and hill-start assist, while a host of creature comforts within the car should bode well for todays generation of car buyers. But is it enough? In the great scheme of things, yes… and no.
You see the thing is, while the new Accord is truly a great car on its own, the goal-posts have moved considerably over the past few years. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a great deal of competition out there within the category that the Accord resides in, and that’s going to be the biggest challenge facing this particular version, the 2.4 VTi-L, which is priced at RM173,000. That’s a lot of money, but then again the Accord is a lot of car. It’s hard to explain in words what this means, but I’ll try.
It’s about a feeling you get when driving the new Accord. The abundance of space and near complete silence as the car saunters along notwithstanding, the driver and passengers are cossetted in a kind of luxury and assuredness that’s not often found in Japanese cars within this segment; you’d have to drive a Lexus for this kind comfort, quietness and ride and handling. So the goal-posts may have moved, but I’m convinced that it was the new Accord that just moved them, again. Taken for what it is, it’s a gem of a car.
Honda Accord 2.4 VTi-L Specifications:
Engine: Earth Dreams Tech in-line 4-cyl, 16-valve, DOHC, i-VTEC, PGM-Fi, 2,356cc
Transmission: 5-speed auto with shift-hold
Max power: 175bhp @ 6,200rom
Max torque: 225Nm @ 4,000rpm
Suspension F/R: MacPherson struts / Independent Multi-link with stabiliser
Brakes F/R: Ventilated discs / Solid discs
Wheels & Tyres: 235/45 R18
Dimensions L/W/H: 4,870 / 1,850 /1,465 (mm)
Kerb weight: 1,565kg
Fuel tank: 65L