Honda Accord 2.0T Sport: Putting fun in function
If you are shopping around for an affordable, mid-size family sedan, one of your go-to cars is the Honda Accord. There's a new generation now, with oodles of changes inside and out, and what that means is that it not only looks good - but will also perform well for the next 5 to 10 years. If you go by the word on the Internet, it's an award-winning vehicle. But let's take a closer look.
DESIGN & AESTHETICS
In the pantheon of Accords, the 10th generation is seen in high regard. Both the proportions and details are right this time. It is no longer the average-looking sedan; the new styling is a lot more deliberate - it is bold and has identity and, therefore, desirability. It has embraced the fastback profile, which may be polarising to some but has aerodynamic benefits.
When I said "bold", I was talking about that Honda's signature chrome wing front grille (one that we've seen on all new models), flanked by available 9-lamp, full-LED headlights and LED fog lights. This may be the first time a unibrow looks good. The top-end Sport model we drove puts a dark chrome finish on it. It also puts turbine-inspired, 18-inch wheels in place of the 17-inch variety, wrapped in 235/45 specification rubber. Thanks to the fastback profile and plenty of creases on the door panel, it is more than characterful - to say the least. The gently sloped rear deck terminates at a complex set of C-shaped LED taillights that looks great in the dark as well.
Turn to the insides and you find it's a less radical affair. It is an evolution of Honda's black and basic cabin with a few tweaks populated by a sequence of high-quality plastic panels and trims strung together in a squeak and rattle-free manner - something we expect from Honda. There is a good feel when you knock, rub, press, slide and turn the surfaces and switchgear.
The A-pillars are 20 per cent narrower and the viewing angle is wider by 7.9 degrees or so. The chunky, circular steering wheel feels as comfortable as your TV remote and it comes with plenty of multi-function buttons: usual stuff like audio controls and not-so-usual stuff like Head-up Display right at your fingertips.
It's easy to fit right into this "control bridge" as I'd like to call it. Besides the base trim, every model gets 12-way power adjustments for the driver's seat, while the person beside you in the front shouldn't complain - he or she has 4-way adjustments. Obviously, being top-spec, which you are paying nearly 140k for, it does come with decent quality leather upholstery, with memory options and cooling/heating options as well. The shift lever has been abandoned for a fully electronic, shift-by-wire gear selector. Yes, it's got Maserati-style buttons to select, which may be unnerving for the first couple of times of use, but rest assured, it works perfectly fine and you get used to it.
The main attraction is the centre stack, that houses the 8-inch infotainment system. It's a standing unit that looks good, with reasonable touch response and, finally, real physical knobs for volume and frequency tuning. You even have ASIMO greeting you with a wave when it switches on. Below it all is a deep storage bin that conceals the wireless phone charger to go with the rest of the spacious utility spaces in the cabin.
Although the new car has a demanding presence, especially in this Sport trim, it's actually lower and shorter by 15mm. Yet, overall passenger volume has increased by 70 litres (LX trim). By increasing wheelbase by 55mm, they've actually added yet another 48mm of added rear legroom, making this a bargain limousine.
POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
Some of you may not know, but, for this generation, Honda has chosen to turbocharge their engines, keeping them lighter and more fuel efficient - while delivering better torque. For all general purposes, the base car's 1.5-litre direct-injected VTEC Turbo should suffice. It makes nearly 200 horsepower and 260Nm of torque, letting it get from 0 to 100 km/h in around the 8-second range. If you have money to spare, you can go for the 2.0-litre direct-injected VTEC, that, according to Honda, is "sharing much of its design with the 2017 Civic Type-R engine" - which should get all Honda/VTEC fans thrilled. Both models are driven by front wheels, and this 2.0T gets off the line with an expected screech and hits 100 km/h in 7 seconds or so.
The new body is actually 10 kg lighter, yet its torsional and bending stiffness is up by 24 and 32 per cent respectively. This translates into better road manners. Of course, a lot of the responsibilities go to the McPherson struts upfront and the multi-link rear suspension. Together, they work to give the Accord new-found agility. It still is no sports sedan, but it contains body roll well enough and holds traction and stability through sweeping curves and doesn't despise quick directional changes as well. Mix that with appropriate heft from the electric power steering and 370Nm of torque - and you have a fun car. The ride quality is also noteworthy: it may not be of air-suspension quality but of a certain composure that won't juggle your organs.
With a 7L/100km economy rate, kudos to the 2.0T engine for not burning a hole in your pocket - and the ozone. But we were expecting a tank larger than 56 litre to be honest - it's more convenient.
FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY
Somehow Honda boffins have managed to eke out space in the trunk, 25 litre to be specific. The rear seats do split in a 60:40 fashion, but don't fold them down flat. And you do get a full size spare under the carpet.
Between your music source and your drums are a choice of audio systems. You start off with a 160-watt factory-fitted audio system, which should do the job. The next upgrade is a 180-watt one with 8 speakers. But if you want to parade playing the World Cup song and show your love for the game, you need the 450-watt audio system with 10 speakers.
This Sport model is loaded with safety features. There's Lane Watch, which shows a clear view of your blind spots; airbags for your heads, knee, torso and every other part of your body. You get Collision Mitigation Braking System, Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist System and more. But what you'd use more regularly is also available - like the adaptive Cruise Control, Hill Start Assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system and a multi-angle rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines.
The dual-zone AC is quite good as well.
The all-new 2018 Honda Accord is the complete mid-size sedan and, therefore, an imperative choice for the family man or woman. It is defined by bold exterior that sets itself apart from the crowd and a choice of powertrains that deliver respectable performance while respecting your dirham at the gas station. It is also quiet and comfortable over the long haul. And backed by Honda's legendary reliability and resale value. What's not to like?