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Detroit show: Honda shows off new Accord

New body, familiar name: Honda premiered its next-generation Accord range with this musular coupe concept in Detroit.

Next-generation American Honda Accord sedan to be downsized – to Accord Euro size?

11 Jan 2012


HONDA today unveiled its ninth-generation Honda Accord in the form of a coupe concept at the Detroit motor show, not only promising a plug-in hybrid version but confiding that the company has “a few more tricks up its sleeve” still to be announced for the mid-size car range.

The company also revealed that the sedan variant will be slightly smaller than before, posing the question of whether Honda has bitten the bullet and merged its hitherto dual Accord models – the American-designed Accord and the smaller Japanese-developed Accord Euro.

Production will commence at Honda’s Marysville plant in Ohio this year for a third-quarter release in North America, but it is unclear if or when the Accord will go into production at Honda’s plant in Thailand, which was devastated by the Thai floods in 2011 and is currently being rebuilt.

The Thai factory has supplied the current model to the Australian market, where the Thai-built American-style Accord is sold alongside the slightly smaller Japanese-made Accord Euro.

Officially, Honda was tight-lipped on the international roll-out of the Accord, saying only that an announcement could be expected in the not-too-distant future.

However, a Honda UK spokesman in Detroit told GoAuto that the Accord destined for Europe would continue to differ from the American model when it went into production at the Swindon plant in England in 2014.

15 center imageOddly, the muscular coupe unveiled today is said to retain the dimensions of the former model that is made for the North American market in Ohio, even though the sedan will have a “smaller footprint” with “more efficient packaging”.

The Accord will debut Honda’s next-generation Earth Dreams engine line-up, with what Honda promises will be class-leading fuel economy.

Ultimately, the Earth Dreams range will include nine engines – eight petrol and one diesel – spreading across the entire Honda range from Japanese mini cars to its largest SUVs.

For Accord in America, three all-new powertrains will be offered – a 2.4-litre direct-injected four-cylinder producing 135kW of power and 240m of torque, a plug-in hybrid combining an Atkinson-cycle petrol 2.0-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder engine and a 120kW electric motor, and a 3.5-litre i-VTEC V6 with GM-style variable cylinder management.

No power and torque figures were supplied for the V6, but Honda says outputs have increased over those for the current engine.

The base four-cylinder engine offers 10 per cent more torque and five per cent greater fuel efficiency over the current engine, and is said to be more efficient than similar engines from mid-sized rivals such as the Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima.

This engine will be mated with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) with what Honda describes as a co-operative control system for “excellent acceleration and responsive shifting”.

The plug-in hybrid powertrain to be launched in about a year can be driven in three modes – all-electric, a mix of electric and petrol, and direct-drive petrol.

The electric mode is said to be good for up to 24km of city driving, and can power the car to 100km/h for a short time.

Charging the 6kWh lithium-ion battery is said to take 1.5 hours using a 240-volt charger.

Like the petrol four-cylinder engine, the plug-in hybrid will come with a CVT, while the V6 model will feature a new six-speed automatic.

For the first time in a Honda, lane departure warning and forward crash warning systems will be offered, along with blind-spot warning.

Connectivity will be ramped up, with a text messaging function, among other gadgets.

The third-quarter launch of the new Accord in North America will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the start of Accord production at Marysville.

Once the best-selling passenger car in the US – an honour now held by the Toyota Camry – the Accord remains one of the best sellers in North America.

More than 11 million Accords have been sold in the US, eight million of them made in Marysville.

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