‘Just about good enough’ sums up the new Accord’s performance when equipped with the staple 2.2-litre diesel engine. The engine produces 148bhp – up 10bhp from the old Accord – yet retains its commendably smooth running. And although overall weight has risen, it’s not by enough to blow a big hole in what was already fairly leisurely acceleration. Honda’s own numbers suggest a 0-62mph time of 9.5sec, a time we matched to 60mph in testing.
Of more importance is the quietness of the engine at a steady cruise and the fact that it has the nicest transmission in the class, even taking the German quality brands into account. Six speeds are standard and the change quality is light yet deliciously precise. Refinement levels are exceptional for this class of car, with wind, road and engine noise kept to a bare minimum.
In the ranks of modern diesels, the more powerful 177bhp version of the 2.2-litre four-pot is much more commendable. Its 280lb ft torque maximum is on offer between 2000 and 2750rpm, although there is a decent spread of grunt throughout the rev range. The well-judged gear ratios, combined with that fantastic shift quality, ensure swift progress can always be maintained, not something that can always be said about the lower-powered model. Ask the diesel flagship for all it's got and it will carry you to 62mph in 8.8sec and to a top speed of 136mph.
In the ranks of modern diesels, the more powerful 177bhp version of the 2.2-litre four-pot is much more commendable, with a good spread of torque.
The base 154bhp 2.0-litre petrol Accord feels surprisingly sluggish. The effortless mid-range urge of modern turbodiesels that we're used to means that a revvy petrol engine like this one feels overwhelmed when asked to lug a large family car. Performance has to be extracted from the Accord by revving it surprisingly hard, and even shallow motorway gradients are enough to defeat this car’s tall sixth gear.
The range-topping Accord – the model that middle-managers countrywide should surely aspire to own if the outfit’s premium-brand ambitions are to be taken seriously – has a noisy 198bhp 2.4-litre four-pot, which drives the front wheels through a five-speed automatic gearbox that is often slow to kick down and guilty of transmission slip. The Power of Dreams? This is anything but.