The secret manners
Usually I wouldn’t be this generous on a Thursday morning but you find me in a particularly good mood so I’ll let you into an insider’s tip. One of the best kept secrets of the industry and a car which almost every motoring journalist raves about – yours truly included – is the Honda Accord.
As of now, there is a bit of a problem though. You see, Honda South Africa only brought the seventh and eighth generation of the Accord to our shores in January 2003 and June 2008 but this wasn’t the mainstream model which took over America and the world with almost 20 million sales to date.
What we got instead was their “Euro” model, an edgier version for markets with refined tastes. Hell, we even crowned it car of the year in 2009. Having sold roughly 8,300 units since 2003, Honda South Africa announced that its sporty merits didn’t garner the popularity they’d hope for – so the mainstream model has now replaced it.
Before you race off to your local corner car shark or dive into the internet’s used pages, give the head-honcho Accord a chance to introduce itself. Its appearance, dimensions and performance are more streamlined and generous, while its manners are less sporty but more comfy.
The range of engines at launch is all petrols: a 2-litre 4 cylinder iVTEC (114kW, 190Nm), a 2.4-litre 4 cylinder iVTEC (132kW, 225Nm) and a 3.5-litre V6 iVTEC (207kW, 339Nm). The 2.4 motor may sound familiar from old Accord but it’s in fact a whole new engine; new block, new internals, better efficiency.
It may be down on power when compared to its father but it’s more sophisticated; power is spread through a wider rev range, there’s less screaming and it’s not as thirsty. The big vee six has full valve management and selective cylinder shut-off to save fuel, running on three, four or six cylinders.
All new Accords are only available with automatic gearboxes and, as before, front wheel drive. The V6 gets an extra cog over the four cylinder’s five speeds and Honda has also blessed it with active engine mounts to counter those naughty vibrations which are so inherent to a vee motor.
I got a chance to test all three variants at their launch and as can be expected, the two-litre isn’t exactly a bag of fireworks, the V6 makes a lovely noise as it leaves the other two for dead while the 2.4 is the obvious in-betweener. This applies to its performance, consumption and specifications.
Honda South Africa sells Accord as three models with escalating levels of trim. The 2.0 Elegance costs N$389,000, a 2.4 Executive is N$449,000 and the 3.5 V6 Exclusive will set you back almost N$550,000. “For a HONDA!?!” whines someone on Facebook. Yes, for a Honda with a V6 engine and bucket-loads of toys.
All new Accords have excellent standard features like Bluetooth, adaptive electric power steering, tyre pressure warning, six airbags and loads of driver aids, auto lights and wipers, trailer and hill-start assist, leather, full parking sensors and a full-size spare wheel. They even have an interior noise-cancelling system.
The bigger ones – whose prices seem to steep – will also spoil you with keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, lane assist with camera, collision mitigation, active LED headlights with cornering function and high beam assist, shift paddles, a subwoofer, sunroof and rear sun blind.
More importantly, new Accord has more room than its predecessor which should help it to win the minds of D-segment luxury sedan buyers. An estimated 80-85% of this pie is gobbled up by the perennial German trio but a Honda exec noted that “Accord owners don’t crave status and appreciate the car’s engineering.”
I certainly think so.