Stop peering in disbelief – this is the new Honda Accord. Yes, it’s an all-new model that looks suspiciously like the old one. Even Honda calls it ‘an evolution of the current model’ and it’s the big news on the company’s stand at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
It’s wider and lower than today’s Accord but retains its sober and simple style. The biggest change is at the front, where the newcomer has wedgy headlamps and huge five-sided grille. Thankfully, as you might expect from technology-obsessed Honda, there are more changes under the bonnet.
Honda’s latest diesel engine
The new Accord is more significant for its new engines than its design overhaul. Honda’s new second-generation diesel engine, dubbed i-DTEC, makes its debut here. The 2.2 is more powerful, developing an extra ten ponies with 148bhp at 4000rpm, yet is claimed to meet stringent Euro 5 emissions regs thanks to the latest piezo fuel injectors and a particulate filter. A plump 258lb ft of torque on tap from just 2000rpm promises fleet performance, too.
Two petrol engines will be offered, a 154bhp 2.0 i-VTEC (with improved valve lift and timing gear) and the range-topping 197bhp 2.4 i-VTEC. All three engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox or (when the diesel auto arrives in early 2009) a five-speed auto.
Guess what? They’ve benchmarked the 3-series
Honda’s promotional literature talks about benchmarking the new Accord against the BMW 3-series, but the same claim has been made by more manufacturers in this segment than we care to remember. Honda argues that the lower centre of gravity, a wider track and new suspension (double wishbones up front, multi-link rear links) will improve the previously staid handling, although we’d expect the Accord to place comfort over razor-sharp handling prowess. Which is surely what Honda customers expect.
Inside, the Accord is just what you’d expect from a Honda: clear, electro-backlit dials, high-tech graphic read-outs and switchgear that will be familiar to anyone who’s driven the latest space-age Civic or Legend. Although this publicity shot makes it look dark and sombre, it all looks sensibly laid out and well built.
Honda Accord – a techfest
All models have Honda’s electronic stability system as standard, reining in wheelspin or slides by braking individual wheels, limiting engine power and even adding steering corrections to quell over- or understeer. Don’t worry though – it’s not about to steer for you, it just applies a nudge of lock to encourage the driver to apply a correction. Honda’s really gone to town on the new Accord’s safety systems; it will follow white road markings to keep you in the correct motorway lane and forward radar systems will keep you a set distance from the car in front and even brake for you if it detects an imminent collision. Needless to say, many of these systems will be optional.
Prices haven’t been announced yet we hear they’ll kick off at around £17-18,000 for a 2.0-litre saloon when sales start in July 2008. Expect estate Tourer models to cost £1200 more.
CAR is covering all the Geneva unveils in the coming weeks as we build up to the Swiss show on 4 March 2008. Come back for all the latest new-car news as it happens