Published on November 7, 2007
While the previous version had a more wedge-like shape, the new model takes a more in-your-face stand, demanding more presence.
There was a time when, in my mother's opinion, I dressed like a beggar. Torn jeans, a shirt that looked like it had recently cleaned a drain and an unshaven beard. I thought I looked rugged; others thought I needed a dose of super-spin in the new Hitachi washing machine.
Many cars go through a similar "growing up" phase, and the latest Honda Accord is a good example.
Customers of the Accord wanted a more upmarket car, something to stand them out from the racer boys in their Civics. So Honda has toned down the sportiness and increased the ingredients that make it more of a premium car.
Major changes to the exterior include a wider front by 28mm and a body that is longer by 76mm and higher by 23mm. While the previous version had a wedge-like shape that was smaller in the front and grew larger in the rear to provide a smoother airflow, the new version adopts a more in-your-face stance. It has more presence. In my opinion, it bears a striking similarity to the Hyundai Sonata.
The rear plays along with the premium look, with lights that look smaller. There is a strong character line to the sides that indicates the Accord is still no couch potato. It hints at sportiness.
The increased dimensions mean the Accords weighs 5 per cent more than the outgoing model.
On the inside, things have also grown bigger. The rear legroom has another 10mm, while the interior width has increased 38mm. The front seats are placed farther apart, allowing for a wider centre console - an important ingredient in the luxury-vehicle formula.
The interior quality is impressive, as it was in the previous versions, although the Japanese version we drove at Honda's research and development centre in Tochigi, Japan, felt too cluttered, with too many buttons on the centre console.
On the move, the Accord 2.4 feels powerful, but not spectacularly so. Although a more thorough test drive was not possible, because of heavy rain and limited driving time, the Accord seems impressive on the move and appears to have retained most of its sporty character. However, it's important to remember the Accord was never the best handler, although in its class it was impressive. On the banked corners of the oval track, there was barely any body roll, but this was a track on which even a minivan could enter a corner at 180kph, so it would be wrong to judge the new model's dynamics on this location. The cars driven on the Tochigi track were also left-hand drive, so there were likely to be lots of differences to those that will be sold in Thailand.
The interior pictures shown here are of a version of the new Accord to be launched in the US. So secretive were Honda's officials about the Accord that we were not allowed to take cameras to the test track, and not a single interior picture was released. The exterior shots were taken by Honda staff.
The new Accord is likely to be launched in Thailand at next month's Motor Expo. Considering Honda's strategy with the CR-V, the Accord will have a choice of 2- and 2.4-litre engines from the beginning. Whether a 3.5-litre engine will be offered, to compete with the 3.5-litre Toyota Camry, we'll have to wait and see.
With its premium appeal, the new Accord can be expected to attract more executive buyers. Honda's marketing team seems to be stressing rear-seat comfort, although they claim drivability has been retained so as not to disappoint current customers.
Whether the Accord has finally dumped the torn jeans and dirty shirt for a suit and tie in terms of driving characteristics in Thailand has yet to be seen. On the outside, though, things have definitely changed. What we want to find out is whether there is a pocket knife and an army-camouflage shirt under the Accord's new suit.
Engine: 2.4-litre DOHC i-VTEC
Maximum power: 177 hp at
Maximum torque: 220Nm at 4,300rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic transmission
Suspension (front/rear): Double
Track (front/rear): 1,580/1,580
Wheels (front/rear): 16-inch alloy
Fuel-tank capacity: 70 litres
The Luxury LS 460 is a wonderfully comfaortable car fitted with all mod cons, althoough not necessarily the most fun vehicle to drive.