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First look: Honda’s American Accord out and about

Evolutionary: The new Honda Accord is shorter than the current model to make it look sportier, but it is largely faithful to the traditional Accord design.

Ninth-generation Honda Accord revealed in US almost a year ahead of Oz debut

9 Aug 2012

THE new ninth-generation Honda Accord has been revealed in images released in the United States, where the mid-size sedan and coupe range will go on sale in the third quarter of this year.

The Thai-built version for Australia is expected to look much the same when the sedan arrives in local showrooms in the middle of 2013, but this market again will miss out on the coupe that will be built only in left-hand drive in the US.

In Australia, the American-designed Accord will also be sold alongside the Japanese-built Accord Euro that is also expected to get a total makeover within the next year.

So far this year, Accord sales in Australia are down more than 80 per cent due to the devastating Thai floods that crippled production for months. By contrast, sales of the Japanese-built Accord Euro are up by more than 80 per cent, as Honda and its dealers put their sales and marketing efforts into the only Accord available to them.

Honda Australia corporate spokesman Lindsay Smalley told GoAuto today that, although the 2013 Accord powertrain line-up for Australia had not been confirmed, it was expected to remain much the same as the current 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine range.

But as GoAuto reported in April, a hybrid variant is expected to follow, probably in 2014.

15 center imageFrom top: 2013 Honda Accord Coupe Honda Accord concept from the 2012 Detroit Show.

Mr Smalley said some small changes could be expected to the Accord design for the Asian market, in line with previous models such as the Civic, but the major sheetmetal would remain the same as the American version revealed overnight.

The new Accord was teased in concept coupe form at the Detroit motor show in January, and the production version is largely faithful to that design, except for some grille and trim differences.

The sedan design is largely evolutionary, with a prominent chrome grille surround and slimmer headlights.

Honda says the Accord is shorter than before, contributing to a sportier driving character and easier parking.

“An expansive greenhouse and generous rear seating area provide excellent levels of visibility and comfort for the driver and all passengers,” says the media release accompanying the pictures.

American Honda product planning vice-president Vicki Poponi indicated the Accord had been designed inside out.

“Following Honda’s long-held philosophy of ‘man maximum, machine minimum’, the beautiful exterior evolved from a focus on interior space and the needs of the people inside it,” she said.

The images did not include any glimpse of the new interior, and nor did the press release give details of the North American powertrain line-up.

However, US reports say the car’s base engine will be a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 135kWof power and 240Nm of torque – 2kW and 14Nm more than the four-cylinder in the current car in Australia.

The 3.5-litre V6 is said to pack 231kW of power and 359Nm of torque – a hefty lift of 29kW and 17Nm over the current V6.

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is expected to replace the five-speed automatic, at least on the four-cylinder variants.

No manual transmission will be offered in North America, but it is unclear if that will be the case with the Thai-built range for Asia and Oceania.

At the Detroit show, Honda previewed its first plug-in hybrid powertrain in the Accord Coupe concept, and American speculation suggests that will make it into production, giving Honda a weapon against Toyota’s Camry Hybrid.

The hybrid powertrain uses an Atkinson-cycle petrol 2.0-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder engine combined with a 120kW electric motor, and has three drive modes – all-electric, a mix of electric and petrol, and direct-drive petrol.

The electric mode – powered by a 6kWh lithium-ion battery that takes 1.5 hours to charge – is said to be good for up to 24km of city driving.

Some reports suggest the petrol powertrains offered in the US are members of the new Earth Dreams engine line-up foreshadowed by Honda, covering both petrol and diesel units in a range of sizes.

The first Earth Dreams engine destined for Australia is the 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel in the UK-built Civic Hatch from next year.

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