The Honda Accord‘s decades-old grudge match with the Toyota Camry is traditional automotive rivalry at its finest. Other weigh-ins spring to mind: Mitsubishi Evolution and Subaru WRX, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and even the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, now known here as the Altis.
But the executive sedan ring is looking less head to head and more Royal Rumble these days, especially in Malaysia. The Koreans present an attractive pair and Honda’s own domestic peers, Nissan and Mazda, are in attendance; not forgetting the Passat which is the freshest kid on the block. Or freshest executive with a pair of progeny, a demographic which might be more accurate with cars such as this.
|Name||Honda Accord 2.0 VTi-L||Honda Accord 2.4 VTi-L|
|Engine||1,997cc naturally aspirated four cylinder SOHC i-VTEC||2,356cc naturally aspirated four cylinder DOHC i-VTEC with Honda Earth Dreams Technology|
|Max Power||153 hp @ 6,500 rpm||173 hp @ 6,200 rpm|
|Max Torque||190 Nm @ 4,300 rpm||225 Nm @ 4,000 rpm|
|Price (OTR with insurance)||RM153,800||RM172,800|
Internal chaos and external threats abound, both from within the segment and from those pesky crossovers that cause headaches in every size. But wait, the fracas is even more convoluted than that. With EEV incentives and the introduction of tantalisingly accessible variants, a small stretch of the budget could net a shopper a set of Teutonic wheels from a higher rung of premium. How, then, can the Accord retain not only its faithful supporters but continue to net new ones in the face of such an onslaught?
We are denied Acuras in this part of the world, which is only mildly upsetting. They don’t make sense here, but seeing as the wing treatment of the front fascia seems to have trickled over you’ll hear no complaints from us. In keeping with this seemingly avian theme, the LED headlights of this 2.4 VTi-L — with its daytime-running strip — are executed in a manner reminiscent of the purposeful gaze of a falcon.
Around the rear, the light clusters have been updated with a triplet of horizontal LED bars making for pretty viewing especially at night. Safe too, as the Accord is visible from a much further distance. If you’re wondering why we’re prattling on about lights for so long, this minor aesthetic change has made a world of difference from the pre-facelift Accord. It was a good looking car to begin with, but now the perceived luxury factor has increased along with freshness of design.
And when viewed side-on, the two-tone 18-inch star-and-flower petal rims are pretty damn striking — in a way that you’ll be left puzzled as to why on earth you were staring at the factory wheels of a Japanese family car for so long.
There is almost a double binnacle swoop over the top of the dash ala BMW E60 5-Series. Combine this with the satin metallic trim surrounding the 7.0-inch infotainment display and the glossy black trim on the center console; the Accord is more luxurious than it has ever been before. One feature sorely missed from the eight-generation that would have made the presentation perfect were the jewel-effect markers on the instrument panel. But we’re nitpicking now.
It may not have the soft leather feel and finesse of the Mazda 6 or the wipe-down simplicity of the Camry, but there’s a dark class to the execution. Front and centre however, is where the tech party is really at — the aforementioned 7.0-inch interface. Apple CarPlay enabled and Android Auto-ready, the layout and usage is commendably intuitive. Above this is Honda’s Intelligent Multi-Information Display which displays drive and vehicle information independently, thus providing as much utility as possible without interfering with operation.
Addressing some of the NVH complaints of yore, not only has the overall damping been improved and the highway-speed wind noise all but eliminated, there are now active noise controlling systems in the Accord. Thankfully, these reduce the volume but do not affect the note coming from the Earth Dreams mill. Nothing in the affordable D-segment sounds this good, period.
You have now put up with circa-600 words before arriving at the main event. An Accord has a reputation to uphold in its class — that it should be a frontrunner, perhaps even the best, when chucked into a corner. Turn-in is precise and predictable through the chunky steering wheel, the Accord rolling through a bend in an entertaining manner while looking precisely as good as you would expect it to.
There is slightly less feedback here than in the Accord it replaces, but as the brief is executive first and silly grin second, we can accept this concession. A word on the power delivery for those now spoiled by the early onset of torque from downsized turbo engines, you have to really beat it to get anything out. Peak torque of 225 Nm is only fully deployed at a fairly high 4,000 rpm, so knock the gear lever into S and tickle the paddle shifters to enjoy executive in relative excitement once in a while.
IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?
Let’s start with the practical considerations. Size, reliability and relatively low running costs at the top of your list? Then yes. The Accord has been at the top of its game, or close enough, for countless generations, gradually perfecting the formula. Before you argue, consider that the Accord has been featured in Car and Driver’s 10 Best Cars in America not once, not twice, but 30 times in the 32-year history of the award. That’s probably no coincidence.
And there are classy European touches too. Corner lamps that illuminate when you turn the wheel, the aforementioned satin finishes on the interior trim. This is far from an appliance, not that there is anything wrong with an automobile that steadfastly accompanies your daily grind without complaint, but now there is some panache to go along with the predictability. And why shouldn’t you demand as such, motoring at this class should not just tick all the necessary boxes, it should tick those on the wish list as well.
WOULD I BUY THIS CAR?
In a heartbeat. Yes, my bias is showing but it’s only because the Accord’s various elements speak to me in a way that nothing else in the segment can. Satisfying rev-happy top end pull with the dynamics to match, a premium cabin experience and an attractive exterior are the trifecta. Consider me completely sold. Combine this with the cherry that is the two-tone rims and this Honda fanboy can barely contain himself – what more with the bodykit package.
The chords this Accord strikes are both figurative and literal. When this gets replaced, it’s not likely that the range-topping variant will continue to carry a large-capacity naturally aspirated mill. And this makes sense, after all of what use does an executive have for a car that sounds the business and whose neck you have to wring to get properly going? Bugger sensibility, and long live the Accord.
[Words by V.B]