This is the all-new Accord. It may not look very different, but according to Honda this will be the car to catapult the Japanese brand into contention with established premium marques.A ground-up re-design, the Accord will again be sold in saloon and Tourer forms, which are both expected to arrive in the showrooms this July. The current Accord sold 8500 units in the UK last year. Honda UK expects the new model to jump to between 12- and 14,000 sales, with prices kicking off at £18,000 and rising to over £23,000 for a diesel Tourer – roughly £1000 over prices for the current model. The new car is ‘significantly’ wider and slightly lower than the outgoing model. Under the sharper skin is a new, more rigid platform with new front and rear multi-link suspension.Honda says it benchmarked the BMW 3-series to achieve a ‘more involving, communicative drive’.
More power; less emissions
The Accord will be offered with two petrol engines and a new ultra-clean diesel. The 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol is good for 154bhp and will improve economy thanks to revised valve and intake engineering. The 2.4-litre i-VTEC delivers 197bhp at 7000rpm and 187lb ft at 4500rpm.However, the big news for European drivers is the Accord’s new 148bhp i-DTEC diesel, which has a massive torque output of 258lb ft at just 2000rpm. The previous Honda diesel unit was a benchmark for refinement, but Honda says it has made the new i-DTEC engine ‘more powerful, smoother and cleaner’. It’s so clean it will meet the US’s ultra-stringent ‘EPA Tier II Bin 5’emissions standards without the NoX-reducing urea injection system Mercedes fitted to its US-bound Bluetec diesel engines.All three engines will be offered with a six-speed manual box. A five-speed auto is also offered on the petrol engines, with a diesel auto arriving in 2009.
A quality finish
A great deal of effort has been expended on the fit and finish of the new ‘cockpit-like’ interior, which features floating, back-lit, instruments and a central LCD multi-information display.Honda sources claim the interior feels a ‘class up’, going so far as to say it rivals the Audi A6 for space and quality. Even the front seats are described by Accord engineer Toshiro Morita as ‘no expense spared.’ Audi was the target when the Accord’s body and interior quality was being refined. BMW was the target for the engine development and the sophistication of engineering individual components, with Audi, BMW and Lexus used as reference points for the Accord’s electronics.This includes Motion Adaptive EPS, which combines the stability system and electric power steering to detect instability and makes steering inputs designed to get the drive to steer in the correct direction. It also gets the option of Adaptive Cruise Control, a Collision Mitigation Braking System and Lane Departure Warning. You won't have to wait long to find out if the new Accord stands up to the hype; it will make its international debut at the Geneva show next month.