IT may not be obvious just by looking at it, but the latest Honda Accord is actually the most refined version of this once popular sedan. The ninth-generation Accord gets fresh new styling for a more distinctive and less cumbersome look. The nose is smoothened and the boot lid tapered but most significantly, the 4.9-metre long sedan has had its wheelbase shortened by 25 mm to 2,775 mm for more agile handling.
Interior space is unchanged, however. It has been optimised so that the cabin feels more spacious, with much elbow room and good rear legroom. It is noticeably more hushed too. The Japanese carmaker has gone to great lengths to achieve a quieter cabin and smoother ride, and this includes producing a new engine, body and suspension system.
Honda engineers managed to reduce body weight while increasing rigidity. They have also introduced a brand new suspension system that features a front MacPherson strut with a spring mechanism to control rebound. This results in improved ride comfort even if the car is rather firmly sprung, which allows the Accord to handle well with precise steering, and that typically unflappable Honda quality when driven sportily.
In front, there is a new Earth Dreams engine to drive the front wheels via the familiar five-speed automatic transmission. This 2.4-litre i-VTEC unit was engineered with improved performance without compromising environmental goals. Best of all, you will barely hear it.
It also helps that the Accord now features active noise cancellation. Two microphones in the cabin monitor ambient noise and cancel them out by generating opposing sound waves.
All of the improvements translate into a mass market model that has the refinement of a car a class above, with its good ride quality and almost tranquil cabin ambience. The goal of increasing refinement includes raising the level of equipment and the new Accord has impressive specifications. They include LED projector headlamps, a 360-watt audio system, LaneWatch blind spot display and multi-angle rear view camera system.
The sound system automatically digitises compact discs and identifies and tags the content using the Gracenote music database pre-loaded in the hard disk.
As for the LaneWatch blind spot display, this clever feature uses a camera mounted in the passenger door mirror housing to show what is behind the Accord whenever the left turn signal is activated. The image is displayed on the eight-inch information screen on the dashboard, which also displays map data. A rotary knob on the centre console controls the navigation system, which is connected to the traffic message channel updated by the LTA to display traffic congestion and road works information.
Unusually, there is also a smaller touchscreen below it which the driver can use to operate the sound system, as well as audio controls in the rear centre armrest for those sitting behind.
Apparently, the aim of the high equipment level was not to take the Accord upmarket so much as to give it an edge over its direct rival, the Toyota Camry.
However, all these bells and whistles come at a price. Literally. The Honda Accord's refinement and extensive features mean it is no longer a cheap Japanese sedan, even if it continues to be assembled in Thailand. But they certainly help it to stand out from the crowd.
Engine 2,381cc inline-4
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Max power 174 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Max torque 225 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
0-100 kmh 10.5 secs
Top speed 224 kmh
CO2 emissions 192 g/km
Average OMV $38,000
Price $194,900 (with COE)
Distributor Kah Motor
Tel: 6841 3333