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First drive: New Honda Accord better, but pricier

One of a pair: Honda’s new Accord will again sell concurrently with the edgier Accord Euro when it hits showrooms in June (click the yellow button for the review).

Honda says new Accord a big step forward, but price increases mean it will cost you

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7 May 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO in NEW ZEALAND

HONDA Australia says its ninth-generation Accord sedan is better in almost every department than before, but the company will make buyers pay for the privilege, with price increases of between $3300 and $4700 over the previous model.

Pricing will kick off at $31,490 plus on-road costs for the base VTi (up $3300), while the mid-range VTi-S (a new addition) will be $33,990. The VTi-L will start at $41,490 (up $4000), and the flagship V6 L will top out the range at $51,990 ($4700 more than before).

We’re across the Tasman in New Zealand to drive the fully redesigned version, just short of one month before it officially goes on sale across Honda’s Australian dealer network.

Not to be confused with the Accord Euro, which Honda will still sell concurrently and is aimed at a younger and edgier clientele (Australia is one of few markets to do this), the regular new Accord – which is designed in the US and built in Thailand – offers better economy than the previous version, and a longer list of standard features.

It is 75mm shorter than the old one, too, but Honda claims more cabin space in the rear and more cargo volume in the boot, and better “cabin craftsmanship” as well. The sound-cancelling Active Noise Control system premiered in the luxurious Legend is also standard.

While forebears have been pitched as rivals for the large-segment Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon and Toyota Aurion, Honda now says the smaller new Accord will give it a one-two punch (alongside the Euro) against mid-sized rivals – the Mazda6 is named specifically.

In fact, GoAuto understands the company is attempting to convince industry guide VFACTS to reclassify the Accord as a medium-sized car, not a large car like the previous version, thereby making it a direct competitor to the Mazda, as well as the Ford Mondeo – at least in industry parlance.

The company has also chosen the new Accord as the testing ground for several high-end active safety features never before used on its models Down Under.

All variants bar the entry level will get Honda’s LaneWatch Blind Spot Monitoring, which feeds footage from the passenger-side blind-spot through to the central screen, while higher level versions come with lane assist, autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control.

Completing the picture is a lighter new MacPherson strut suspension set-up in place of the old double wishbone arrangement, bringing the Accord up to speed with rivals, plus a stiffer body to improve both dynamics and NVH levels – the latter already an Accord strongpoint.

Under the bonnet there is a reworked version of either the familiar 2.4-litre VTEC four-cylinder or 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, with 85 per cent of sales projected to be the entry four-pot.

The more popular of the two engines produces 129kW of power at 6200rpm (actually 4kW less than before) and 225Nm of torque at 4000rpm, and is once again matched to a five-speed automatic as standard. Fuel consumption has been trimmed to 7.9 litres per 100km on entry versions.

The flagship variant will again be powered by a single overhead cam V6, now with 206kW of power at 6200rpm (up 4kW) and 339Nm of torque at 4900rpm, matched to a six-speed auto. Fuel consumption is down seven per cent to 9.2L/100km.

Again, the six-cylinder version gets fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, but while the previous unit could run on three, four or six cylinders, the new model runs on either three or six. Honda claims it has beefed up the car’s responses under three-cylinder impetus, thus negating the need for an extra mode.

Honda has previously told us it was also considering the petrol-electric hybrid version available overseas, but there is no confirmation of any potential launch timing.

Honda believes all this will be sufficient to snag about 300 Accord sales per month once it hits dealers in June – the company has averaged around 250 units this year with the outgoing version while on an incentivised run-out.

The base $31,490 VTi model includes as standard, an eight-inch display with a reversing camera, daytime running lights, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth and USB connections, steering wheel controls and 16-inch alloy wheels (with full-size spare).

For an extra $2500, the VTi-S adds LaneWatch Blind Spot Monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing auto front wipers, LED headlights, front foglights, a premium audio system with seven speakers and touchscreen, reverse-tilt door mirror and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Step up into the VTi-L (the flagship four-cylinder) for a further $7500 brings a sunroof, active cornering headlights, satellite navigation, ‘intelligent’ climate control, leather trim with heated front seats, keyless entry/start, electric front seats with driver’s memory, leather-clad gearshift/steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and 18-inch alloys.

For another $3000, you can option the ADAS active safety system that includes lane assist, autonomous braking and adaptive cruise.

The V6 is another $7000, but adds substantially more power and torque, plus more front seat adjustment and an electric rear sunshade.

On top of the aforementioned active safety gear, all versions are fitted with seven airbags and both Isofix and top-tether anchorages.

This car is not sold in Europe, so there is no European NCAP rating, and ANCAP has not yet tested it. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given it five stars.

Boot capacity is listed as 457 litres (or 461L for the VTi, presumably due to the smaller 16-inch spare) – less than the Nissan Pulsar – while towing capacity is 1600kg for both engines.

Honda Accord pricing*
VTi (a)$31,490
VTi-S$33,990
VTi-L (a)$41,490
VTi-L w/ADAS (a)$44,990
V6 L (a)$51,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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