Latest version of old favourite really does the business
Car technology never ceases to amaze. Even when a certain model has been around for a number of years, the design and function is constantly updated to the point where driver involvement is slowly depleting. This could be said about the all-new Honda Accord, but I am happy to report the driver still very much plays a part.
Prices start at $45,900 for the entry-level S spec and top out with the mighty V6NT (Navigation and Technology) featured here, yours for $60,000.
After the well-received Accord Euro, the new Accord sports a new design and sits on a new platform. With a wheel base of 2775mm, the new car is 70mm longer than the Accord Euro and 10mm wider.
With a less chunky stance and cleaner lines, the Accord is a sweet-looking thing, plus in V6NT spec the twin exhausts and 18-inch pewter grey alloy wheels look the business.
Sinking into the heated-leather chairs, you are greeted with a cabin that is unmistakably Honda.
A large speedometer dominates the head-up display while the centre console is busy with buttons that do many things. The Accord NT is well equipped with reversing camera, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, active cornering lights, iPod/MP3 connectivity, Bluetooth, push-button start and adaptive cruise control.
However, it is the bits and bobs to do with safety where the Accord really shines. Collision Mitigated Braking (CMD), where the dashboard lights up like Christmas as the car slows, Lane-Keep-Assist (LKAS), Lane Watch Camera (LWC), parking sensors galore, and a five-star safety rating to boot.
Space is generous too. All creatures great and small should find rear leg and headroom to their liking. Plus, having 457 litres of boot space is nothing but good news.
The howl of a six-cylinder can really excite. The 3.5-litre i-VTEC V6 in question puts out 206kW and 339Nm of torque. It is the most powerful in the range, and while the four-cylinder cars come standard with a five-speed auto box, the V6 benefits from an extra top-end gear. Yes, that makes it a six-speed guys.
While the power comes above 2000rpm, there is no kick in the guts to speak of, just the seamless addition of more oomph.
The get-up-and-go of the V6 can become addictive, but after returning an average 9.2L/100km while commuting, the 2.4-litre four found in the S, LN and standard NT would be the better bet, returning 7.9L/100km. Plus there is no diesel option to choose from here, it's petrol or nothing folks.
The Accord is a dream when it comes to the long haul. Simply flick it into ECO mode, slob out and watch your destination come ever closer.
The ride in the Accord is smooth and comfortable, but is not as planted as you might imagine. In tight turns, it does come over a bit wobbly, but then again, this is no back-road destroyer of asphalt.
Steering wise, the new electric system makes turning in carparks and tight spaces a doddle. However, the turning circle itself isn't much to shout about. On the open road, the steering can be a tad vague for my liking but without the electric system, Honda could not have fitted its Lane-Keep-Assist system.
Able to detect either side of the lane your are in, when activated, the Accord will steer itself to correct itself, as well as navigate long sweeping motorway bends.
This, coupled with the adaptive cruise control, means a late-night commute home on Auckland's motorway network could be achieved while hardly driving the car at all. This might spook a few, but the combination of the two systems should ensure unfortunate prangs are a thing of the past.
The Lane Watch Camera (LWC) helps out too. When indicating left, a small camera housed under the passenger wing mirror shows any hazards in your blindspot either when turning left or changing lanes. The camera can be turned on or off from the indicator stalk at the driver's will, dead handy for those perilous moments of uncertainty during rush hour.
The six-speed auto shifts well but when using the paddles the changes can be quite delayed whether shifting up or down. However, shifting with paddles is paramount for a more involving drive, although I was just as happy to leave it in full-auto as opposed to sport mode. Funny that.
There is plenty to like about the new Accord and while plenty of rivals in this segment have been nipping at the heels of this long-time player, its latest incarnation is still a strong contender.
Though not devoid entirely of faults, thanks to its quality, willing power units, practicality and approach to vehicle safety, the new Honda Accord presents itself as a nice package which will satisfy many.