Every now and again a manufacturer comes along and openly challenges the status quo by releasing a model specifically aimed at unseating the leader of the sales pack. Honda has done just that with the latest Accord.
In production since 1976 and having sold about 16 million units globally, the eighth generation Accord has grown into something that should scare the living daylights out of the competition.
While I personally liked the sporty, sharp-edged looks of the previous generation, the latest Accord is in a new league: Bigger, bolder and decidedly more elegant, pictures do not do it justice. The sharp lines continue in the design of the head- and taillight design, adding a touch of aggression to the overall look. Neat alloy wheel complete the picture.
The commendable design carries through inside, where the plastics are beyond classy and come very close to leather. The general design and layout may be a bit conservative, but it’s easy to figure out, very neat and highly functional. It certainly reinforces Honda’s legendary reputation for quality.
It’s packed with creature comforts such as heatable front seats, a Bluetooth cellphone connection, parking sensors (which is not usually standard in this league), a refrigerated box between the front seats and a 10-speaker audio system with six-disc CD player and USB and auxiliary sockets for MP3 players.
Powering the new Accord is a revised version of Honda’s well-known 2.4-litre engine, mated to a delightful 6-speed manual version (a new 5-speed automatic is also available). It produces a respectable 148kW of power at 7 000 r/min and peak torque of 234Nm at 4 500 r/min. Honda claims fuel consumption at about 8.8-litres/100 km.
I spent most of my time behind the wheel in the urban sprawl, stuck in traffic and going at a snail’s pace. Thankfully the Accord is a comfortable place to be, with a superb air conditioner and comfortable, electrically adjustable leather seats. When I did manage to ‘put foot’, the Accord was truly impressive, especially in the handling department, where little body roll was evident even under hard cornering.
The 2.4-litre, i-VTEC Executive manual reviewed here sells for R280 000, which is extremely competitive against similarly-specced but in some cases less powerful competitors. It measures up quite well against VW’s Passat, the Volvo S60, Lexus IS250 and entry-level variants of the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series.
The Honda Accord is a very accomplished car that offers everything you could ask for: refinement, good looks and real driver appeal. Honda’s quality and after-sales reputation, shown by its consistently high ranking in consumer surveys such as that of JD Power, should further motivate potential customers.
The sad part is that many people won’t even bother to take an Accord for a test drive because it lacks a German badge. I sincerely hope that the eighth generation Accord changes those narrow-minded perceptions.
ALSO DRIVEN THIS MONTH: Honda CR-V
Not entirely new to the market, Honda’s CR-V remains one of South Africa’s most popular SUV’s. Tested in RVSi specification, the latest CR-V has a look that is neither gorgeous nor ugly – it’s elegantly appealing and familiar but still draws attention in a respectful, admirable way.
Due to an overbooked testing schedule, my time with the CR-V was fairly limited, especially when it came to venturing off the beaten track. On the road, though, CR-V is a feast – its higher driving position is very advantageous in heavy traffic – and even when cruising on the open road, its 2.4-litre engine is more than willing to keep up with the sedans in the fast lane.
CR-V is a car that initially speaks to your logic; it really does make so much sense. While logic and sensibility sometimes feel cold and unemotional, I can guarantee that you will not only like it in a very short space of time, you will love it. Priced at R335 900, it is on the expensive side compared to some of its rivals.
However, you get a vehicle that is capable in every possible way, has a spacious and well-specced interior and Honda’s legendary reputation for quality. As such, CR-V still offers exceptional value for money. It’s yet another Honda I cannot fault.