To the uninitiated there is hardly anything new in the 'new' Accord that witnessed a soft launch earlier this month. The car still has the same engines powering it, a frugal 2.4 litre petrol and a more extravagant 3.6 litre V6 for the enthusiasts. It also looks like the same old vintage Accord. The difference is that with competition heating up in the segment courtesy Maruti Kizashi, Honda decided to re-draw some attention to its flagship brand by equipping its proven performer with more features. Does it make it more immune to competition? We find out.
As in the past, the Accord looks the most stately in its class. It remains the longest and widest in its segment and looks every bit like one. Infact due to its muscular styling, it looks much longer that it actually is. In comparison, the Superb and Kizashi appear more compact. Among the new features that have been added are chrome accentuated front grille, rear chrome garnish and a new bumper.
Considering that a high end mid-size car is often chauffeur driven, the Accord offers great comfort and a feel of luxury to passengers at the rear. That is not to say that it is any less comfortable in the front, but rear seat luxury is where it scores over its contemporaries. Quality of plastic and upholstery and fit and finish is top notch. The new Accord gets sunroof as standard across the range, a feature not available in the Kizashi. It also gets steering mounted cruise control but strangely, Honda has chosen not to add audio controls on the steering wheel, a feature now considered standard in less expensive cars. It does have audio controls at the rear though, proving once again the intention to pamper the owner.
Drive and handling
Though the rear is more luxurious than the front, on occasions where one may wish to take the wheel at hand, the Accord comes across as a very capable tourer. Despite the weight and the size, the car is thrifty and quick to get off the blocks. Steering is responsive and light that does not make one feel it is actually a big car. On the flip side though, the relatively longer wheelbase and low ground clearance is not quite suited to Indian road conditions.
Traditionally, Honda has set the benchmark in affordable luxury segments in India. Be it the City, Civic or Accord, the worth of every new competitor is measured against a Honda. In the last few years though, competitors have somewhat crept up the ladder at times exploiting Honda's weakness in not having diesel engines or its lack of features and equipment. Czech-carmaker Skoda has exploited these weaknesses to the hilt and it with Kizashi coming in, it was time Honda hit back. The new Accord still does not get a diesel but it is atleast at par as far as features is concerned. For everything else it remains the benchmark for a petrol car.