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New Honda Accord review: The agreeable Accord
SUPPOSE your immediate boss has a German car, and that obliges you to drive something Japanese (which in turn relegates your subordinates to Korean brands). Such is the realpolitik of some office car parks. If yours is one of them, the new Honda Accord is for you.
It's a big, plush and well-equipped take on the quintessential Japanese sedan, but is more executive than many executive cars, especially for the money.
This is Honda's 10th go at making an Accord, so the car itself hardly needs an introduction. Yet, Accords are no longer the ubiquitous sight they once were.
One reason for that is that changing car tastes have pushed people into sport utility vehicles, which are the platform shoes of the car world.
Perhaps more relevant is the fact that cars like the Accord once filled a gap between small mainstream cars and a Mercedes-Benz or BMW. That niche no longer exists, since the German luxury players have stretched downmarket with smaller, cheaper models that didn't exist when Accords ruled the streets.
The new model, set for launch on Oct 18, is a reminder of what we once all found so lovely about big Japanese cars.
That said, the new Accord departs from the recipe of its predecessors somewhat. The previous model was a fine car whose plain Jane appearance undoubtedly played a part in its being tragically left on the shelf by buyers, so the 10th-generation model tries a bit harder in that department.
Although it has four doors, it has the pert rump of a fastback, with slim LED lamps and a tidy strip of chrome up-front to go with the vaguely Priapic shape. It manages to exude a sense of stateliness, without looking lumbering or dumpy.
There's size on its side, too. The Accord is longer than a Mercedes C-Class by a French nose, and its major components must be masterfully packaged because it's huge inside.
Like in the Toyota Camry, another gentle Japanese giant, there are buttons for the people in the rear to move the front passenger seat, which gives you an idea of who really gets top priority inside the Accord.
You have to dip your head a bit to enter the back, owing to the way the roofline swoops rakishly down at the back, but once you're there you'll find there's room to swing a cat.
Try it, and the Honda can get you to a hospital pretty swiftly so you can have those claw wounds stitched up.
A mere 1.5-litre turbo engine propels the Honda, but it's tuned for 201 horsepower and makes its maximum torque quickly, so after a moment of hesitation it gets up to speed like someone sneaked a couple of extra cylinders under the bonnet.
But if the engine is lively, it's occasionally throbby and gruff. At least the transmission is faultlessly smooth, which makes the Honda's acceleration feel completely seamless.
The Accord has a smooth, easy way of changing direction, too. It stays composed when pushed hard through bends, for which you can thank the firm suspension, but there's a lightness to the steering that reminds you that this isn't a sports sedan. It's a car you can glide around in all day without feeling an ounce of fatigue.
In fact, for all the Honda's size, it's the little things that make it attractive. It has three tiny microphones in the cabin to pick up ambient noise, just so the speakers can emit frequencies that cancel them out.
Each wheel has a resin doohickey inside that soaks up the noise made by the tyres when they hit an expansion joint.
Even the cabin controls work with a certain heft and precision, which combine with the solid build and soft materials inside the car to create an air of quality.
And like pricier cars, the Accord is packed with self-driving and safety tech. A radar sensor lets it latch onto the car in front while a camera picks up lane markings, so in a traffic jam it can do most of the driving for you.
It brakes itself if it thinks a crash is imminent, steers itself into a parking spot if you can't or won't, and intervenes if it reckons you're about to drift off the road.
Can your boss's car do all that? If so, it's likely he paid much more for it. The Accord is plainly superior to the small premium cars at its price level. Compared to this, for instance, the new Mercedes A 200 Saloon feels cramped and coarse.
Of course, if your boss does have a German company car, it's likely to be something properly luxurious, like an E-Class or 5 Series. He's the boss, after all.
But if you're not allowed to upstage him in the car park, choosing an Accord at least gives you something nearly as nice to drive, for much less money. Chances are, it won't be the first time you made a smarter decision than the boss.
Engine 1,498cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 201hp at 5500rpm
Torque 260Nm at 1600-5000rpm
Gearbox Continuously Variable Transmission
Top Speed 190km/h
0-100kmh 9.1 seconds
Fuel efficiency 6.4L/100km
Price $160,999 with COE
Agent Kah Motor Co