2013 Honda Accord | Road Test
|Good||Plush interior, loads of kit.|
|Bad||Same old engine. Pricey with all the options checked.|
|Specs||2.4 Liter, Inline 4, 173hp @ 6000 rpm, 174 Nm @ 3600 rpm, FWD, 5 speed Automatic Transmission|
|Price||AED 116,999 (As tested)|
Honda’s Money maker gets an Overhaul
Call me racist, but in the past, the boundaries for automobile manufacturers were clear and almost set in stone. The Japanese made affordable, simple, reliable and economical cars. The Germans made fast, luxurious cars with more electronics than your average laptop, adding refinement to the mix. Then came the Italians who sculpted absolutely beautiful looking cars that were more art and less a mode of transport with reliability that rivals the UAE’s weather forecast. Most popularised by Alfa Romeo’s of course, that needed an “Inshallah” every morning before you turned the ignition hoping it wouldn’t die on you. The Koreans mostly went under the radar trying to mass produce cheap imitations of their Japanese counterparts while learning the ropes. Last but not the least, the Americans kept with building large cars with large engines that had soapbox handling with absolutely no concept of ergonomics.
Good or bad, all of that has now changed with every manufacturer working outside their comfort zone and trying to beat the others at their own forte. For Honda, that means integrating a lot more gizmos and prioritising creature comforts over mechanical breakthroughs. Born in 1976, the Honda Accord has consistently delivered as an affordable family sedan. The Accord has always been that car that tried to bridge the gap between Japanese reliability and European refinement. The new for 2013 Honda Accord in its 9th generation promises to one up its game by placing more emphasis on the feel and finish on the inside of the car. As with the previous generations, you get to choose between 2 engine variants – a 2.4L inline 4 banger with an output of 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of Torque or a 3.5L V6 generating 276 hp and 250 lb-ft of Torque. With 7 different grades available on the sedan alone, it seems like there is an Accord for everyone. Or maybe not. However, sales figures suggest a huge portion of Accord buyers opt for the slightly more economical 4 cylinder engine and we take it for a spin to see if it retains its spot as the affordable family sedan with a difference.
Pop the hood and you see a huge “Earth Dreams” plaque on the engine cover staring you in the face. This is Honda’s way of saying they now use direct injection technology and feature better green credentials. Only it isn’t. It is the same power plant from last year. While Honda have launched the new direct injection engine mated to a CVT for the rest of the world, here in the UAE what you actually get is the same drivetrain as last year. Cheeky. Now this is both good and bad. Good, because a CVT is designed to suck all the driving pleasure out of a car while giving you better fuel economy. (whatever that is supposed to mean) Bad, because the new engine actually features direct injection which usually means more power and more power is always a good thing. Considering there is a minor bump in torque from last year and with a CVT thrown into the equation, the bad far outweighs the good and for once we are actually glad our market still gets old technology! Only downside was the lack of a tiptronic gear selection which was a little odd. The only time we missed it was during an “enthusiastic” spin. Every other time, the gearbox was spot on with choosing the right gear and never disappointed.
The overhauled drivetrain is brilliant, just like the old one was. The engine revs nice and freely while the transmission ensures shifts are so nice and silky smooth that you would actually be surprised that this is a traditional autobox. The active noise cancellation on the 2013 Honda Accord makes sure noise is kept to a minimum and the cabin feels isolated from unwanted engine drone and road noise. Pair this with a nice chunky leather wrapped steering and the car feels like you are sitting in a car that is a segment above. Typical of Honda, the ride is firm but not too rough. At low speeds around town it feels nice and comfortable, however, get onto the highway and it can get a little bouncy at times. This of course means handling is stellar. The steering is perfectly weighted – neither too heavy nor too light and feels solid whether at low speeds in a parking lot or while cruising down the highway.
Fuel economy is great and the car averaged 9.6L/100km over the 1600 km the car had been driven so far which is not bad at all. There is an ECON button on the dash which promotes economical driving and glows green every time you are in the ‘good’ zone.( Read as driving with a light foot) The throttle response is a little delayed and downshifts are delayed unless absolutely required. Needless to say, it isn’t the most fun mode, but while driving around town during rush hour it worked like a charm. It definitely makes you feel less guilty about putting your foot down when you hit an open patch later!
Honda always made cars with good engines and excellent handling and this is not the reason that makes the 2013 Honda Accord different. What is different this time, is that the new Accord comes loaded with goodies. The test car (fully loaded) came with an intelligent key, leather seats, steering controls, leather wrapped steering, leather wrapped gear shifter, rear electronic sun blind, navigation, all sorts of connectivity (Bluetooth, iPod, USB, AUX) including an hdd to store your media (which we could never figure out how to use) and 2 touchscreen displays. Yes, 2 of them. Why? Because apparently one is too less. Personally I am not a fan of touchscreens. They are fine for certain applications like GPS and to read out trip logs, etc but for my radio/music I’d much rather have a traditional head unit. For 2 reasons, that is the one thing you operate the most while driving and buttons are a lot safer and easier to use than a touch screen as you don’t have to take your eyes of the road. The other major problem is visibility during the day while wearing polarised sunglasses. It can affect viewing angles and that is the last thing you need while driving. Not included on this model but available on the V6 variant is Honda’s version of blind spot detection that uses a side view mirror camera to provide an expanded view of the passenger side roadway on the dash mounted display.
Interior room is enough to chauffeur a six-footer while having the front seat pushed back all the way for the front passenger. The generous use of faux wood trim along with soft to touch leather stitched door panels adds to the premium feel of the car and makes for a very nice interior. It is a radical change from the outgoing model and is not something you would expect to see from Honda (and we mean this in a good way) The low waistline of the car allows for large windows offering great visibility and making the cabin feel airy. Needless to say, as with all Hondas, the ergonomics are perfect with the front bucket seats offering excellent support with lumbar support while the leather makes it soft and comfortable. Safety is taken care of too with a specially designed shell and 6 dual stage front, side and curtain airbags with technology that reduces the risk of excessive airbag deployment force. Rest assured, you can feel comfortable and safe while ferrying the kids to school.
The 2013 Honda Accord most certainly feels premium and has an excellent drive feel to it. Further closing the bridge, between Japanese reliability and a German feel and finish. Starting at a price of AED 88,999 once fully loaded it costs AED 116,999 (As tested) and is definitely more expensive than its ‘budget’ rivals but it is now competing head on with the premium market. And when you look at it like that, it then suddenly seems like a bargain!