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First drive: New Accord is Honda's big six hitter
Honda’s eighth-generation ‘big’ Accord takes on both Camry and Commodore
26 Feb 2008
HONDA says the old Accord was a six-cylinder car in a four-cylinder body, but that the new one - the eighth-generation Accord since the series debuted in Australia in early 1977 - is a six-cylinder car in a six-cylinder body.
On sale now from $29,990 for the VTi, the CP-series Accord brings more power, space, economy, refinement, technology and environmental friendliness, as well as a new look, to Honda’s large front-wheel drive family car.
That sub-$30,000 pricetag includes an automatic transmission, VSA stability control and four airbags.
As has been the case since mid-2003, a smaller, sportier Accord Euro sedan will continue to be sold alongside the ‘big’ Accord. That too is having a generational change, coming in June.
New to the CP Accord is the three-stage Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system that shuts down part of the V6 engine in the interests of lower consumption and emissions, along with twin dual-chamber front side airbags, an advanced body structure, active front head restraints, variable-ratio steering, power-adjustable driver’s seat lumbar support and flat-blade windshield wipers.
BodyHonda says it has rediscovered the Accord’s personality.
“The old (CM-series) Accord lacked character,” admitted the model’s chief engineer, Chitoshi Yokota, a 27-year veteran with Honda and project leader for the (previous-generation) 2000 Civic range.
To that end, the styling is meant to “embody a bold, upscale and prestigeous design direction.” Seeking the theme ‘athletic dynamism’, the Accord brings together contributions from Honda design centres in Italy, Germany, the USA and Japan – where it was completed.
Length, width, height and wheelbase all grow, by 115, 25, 20 and 60mm to come in at 4945, 1845, 1475 and 2800mm respectively.
Still, the CP Accord is neither as wide nor as long in the wheelbase as its FG Falcon and VE Commodore competition, but trumps the Aurion.
The latest Accord adopts Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure that optimises its ability to disperse crash energy in a frontal collision.
Part of this involves repositioning the frame rails from underneath the body structure floor to inside it, creating a flatter underbody for improved aerodynamics and reduced under-floor turbulence.
At just over 0.31 Cd, the 2008 Accord’s drag co-efficient improves on the outgoing model’s 0.34 Cd.
Torsional rigidity also rises by over 20 per cent, due to greater use of high-tensile steel, which also benefits ride and handling and helps eliminate noise/vibration/harshness (NVH) properties, while thinner A-pillars improve vision without compromising strength.
On the pedestrian safety front, a deformable bonnet has been introduced, and works as such whether a child or an adult is struck.
There is now more clearance between bonnet and the hard engine parts underneath, the windscreen base has a boxed frame structure for better impact absorption, the front guards are energy absorbing, while the windscreen wiper pivots and bonnet hinges are deformable.
Despite the fact that it is larger in every measurement, the Accord’s weight increase is up by only approximately five per cent compared to the last model.
“Refined driving feel with a fun-to-drive character” was the mantra behind how the CP Accord should react from behind the wheel.
As before, two engine choices will demarcate the series.
Honda will invite potential buyers of the Toyota Camry, Ford Mondeo and Holden Epica to consider the VTi and new-to-the-range VTi Luxury, powered by a revised version of the 2.4-litre i-VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine.
It produces 133kW of power at 6500rpm (up 8kW over the outgoing 2.4 – the upshot of a higher compression ratio and engine tuning) and 222Nm of torque at 4300rpm (up from 218Nm).
Meeting Euro IV emissions standard, it is also eight per cent more frugal, returning 8.8L/100km on standard 91 RON unleaded petrol instead of the old VTi’s 9.3, while emitting 209g/km of carbon dioxide rather than 221.
Meanwhile, consumers of six-cylinder vehicles such as the Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon and Toyota Aurion are again offered an Accord V6.
But the old 177kW/287Nm 3.0-litre single-cam VTEC engine has been consigned to history, replaced by a new 3.5-litre single-cam i-VTEC Euro IV V6 instead, delivering 202kW at 6200rpm and 339Nm at 5000rpm.
This is the engine with VCM that, depending on driving conditions, operates on three, four or all six cylinders.
It helps the Accord V6 return 10L/100km – a 0.6L/100km improvement over the previous model – and a 239g/km CO2 rating versus 252 – and again on 91 RON fuel.
With no manual on offer, both powerplants employ an electronically controlled five-speed automatic gearbox with Grade Logic Control and Shift Hold Control, for altered shift programming according to whether the car is travelling up or down hill.
The transmission can be left in ‘Drive’ for use of all five ratios or ‘S’ for use of the bottom three gears, with standard paddle shifts on the steering wheel for either temporary ‘manual’ control in Drive or full manual mode in ‘S’.
Underneath, the 2008 Accord employs a variation of Honda’s double-wishbone front suspension with altered spring and damper rates and a revised anti-roll bar, while a tower brace has been fitted for added chassis stiffness.
The rear has an all-new multi-link set-up featuring gas-filled coil-over shock absorbers, stamped steel upper A-arm, two tubular steel lower links, a single toe-control link and an aluminium knuckle.
Honda says the new rear suspension has 40 per cent greater lateral rigidity.
A lower centre of gravity has been achieved by mounting the 2.4-litre engine 8.5mm lower than before and the V6 10mm lower than previously. Combined with a 10mm lower height than before, the Accord offers reduced bodyroll and flatter cornering capabilities.
There are also new engine mounts for decreased NVH and greater powertrain isolation, ride smoothness and steering response.
Aiding the latter is a new variable mechanical gear ratio for the hydraulically-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system that drops lock-to-lock from 2.98 to 2.56 turns, while the 11.49-metre turning circle is tighter than before despite the Accord growing in size and wheelbase.
Larger four-wheel disc brakes (with ABS anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist, as well as the aforementioned stability control) have been fitted, with single-calliper pistons front and rear, to improve pedal feel and reduce pedal effort. There is also a more efficient park brake.
All models bar the VTi boast 17-inch alloy wheels wearing 225/50 R17 94V tyres. The base car has 16-inch alloys shod with 215/60 R16 95H rubber.
According to Mr Yokota, the BMW 6 Series coupe was singled out as the dynamic inspiration for the new model, since it combined the right level of sportiness and comfort.
InteriorProviding equal seat comfort for front and rear passengers was at the forefront of Honda’s reasons for making the Accord’s interior significantly larger than before.
Here are some comparison figures: hip point distance between front and rear passengers rises by 25mm rear knee space: 75mm and interior width: 37.5mm.
Among other changes current Accord owners may notice are a lower floor height (down by 15mm), a 40mm increase in couple distance, a greater range in seat height and steering wheel reach and tilt adjustments, larger and redesigned seats with active head reststraints at the front for reduced whiplash injury, and a wider centre console.
The interior trim and dashboard now uses more supple materials the large central display is mounted at the top of the stack in line with the instrumentation, while the switches are located below it for easier reach.
At 450 litres, Honda says that new matches old Accord for boot capacity. Today’s car had to accommodate four typical suitcases or two large suitcases, four golf bags, a stroller or wheelchair, or a large ice chest.
The $29,990 VTi includes climate-control air-conditioning, cruise control, paddle shifts for the standard automatic gearbox, four airbags, VSA stability control with ABS, EBD and BA, 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows, electric mirrors, remote central locking, a six-CD player, rear air-conditioning vents and an MP3 player auxiliary outlet.
Honda expects to sell at least 800 units per month, with the four-cylinder models accounting for up to 60 per cent of total volume – with an even split between VTi and VTi Luxury vehicles.
The previous, sole four-cylinder model’s share was 70 per cent.
A reduced age gap between Accord and Accord Euro buyers is also on Honda’s wish list.
Since its global debut in 1976, 16 million Accords have been sold in more than 160 countries – with nearly 10 million in the United States.
Australians received the American-made sixth-generation model from 1997 to early 1999, with all cars (except for the smaller and nimbler Japanese-made Accord Euro sedan) coming from Thailand.
Accord was derived from Honda’s commitment to achieve ‘accord’ between people, society and the automobile.
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