Here’s what you should know about the new Honda Accord Hybrid
Honda’s flagship sedan is back, in a greener avatar
This 9th generation Honda Accord looks far better than its predecessor, which was a bit bloated in appearance. It’s a little more compact, having a shorter wheelbase, and the lines are quite racy and aggressive, without losing the air of elegance the Accord has been known for. Suffice to say that this design won’t age in a hurry.
It’s crammed with cutting edge technology
The new Accord Hybrid has a very sophisticated two-motor hybrid system, each doing different things. A propulsion motor harnesses the decelerative energy from the car, converting it to electric energy, while the generator motor gathers the energy produced by the petrol engine. The 2-litre petrol engine produces 143 hp and combines with the two motors to achieve a combined output of 215 hp. The system has three driving modes – Hybrid Drive, EV Drive, and Engine Drive – and the car constantly shifts between the three, depending on what it thinks the requirements are. Uniquely, the engine isn’t linked directly with the front wheels, which are driven only by the electric motor; thus there is no need for a conventional transmission, which is a saving on weight as well as a reduction in friction.
It drives in a fairly bland way
Driving the older Accord, especially the V6-engine variant, was a joyous experience. This car (in the manner of many hybrids, it has to be said) is a bit… colourless. It’s certainly quick off the mark and extremely refined in character, with an effortless nature to the surge of power that comes forth. Floor the accelerator, however, and there’s a disconnect between engine speed and actual acceleration, which is a bit annoying. It wasn’t built to provide sportscar thrills, but a little more excitement in a car making 215 hp wouldn’t have hurt.
It’s very frugal
Honda claims a staggering 23.1 kpl for the Accord Hybrid, which is an amazing number for a car that’s this big and powerful. Even if you were to dismiss those as ‘under standard test conditions’, a realistic figure of 17 to 19 kpl should be on the cards, which is still sensational.
It’s well loaded with features
The older Accord had a cabin that was beginning to show its age, so it’s a relief to step into this car’s interior and find a comprehensive upgrade. It’s no Starship Enterprise, but everything looks modern (the two screens, especially), all the controls are laid out in an ergonomic manner and the materials used are far better than in the previous car. You get both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Honda’s put in an active noise cancellation feature that plays back noise in reverse, in order to get rid of low frequency sounds – think of it as a giant pair of Bose ‘phones.Other features include dual-zone climate control, LED headlamps, a sunroof, frequency selective dampers and lane watch assist – essentially a camera on the left wing mirror, to monitor blind spots. Additional cool feature – you can start the car remotely, to turn on the A/C.
The vast majority of Accord buyers will occupy the rear seat, and they will be as happy as a dog with a bone. The leather seats offer great thigh and back support and are very plush, and there’s a huge amount of head, leg and elbow room to be had. If Honda had included reclining rear seats, as in the Toyota Camry Hybrid, it would have been nigh on perfect. The ride quality, on smooth roads, is impressive, but on broken tarmac, it can become a little bouncy in the rear seat.
It’s bloody expensive
Prepare for sticker shock – the Accord Hybrid will cost you Rs 40.14 lakh, ex-Navi Mumbai, which puts it squarely into territory occupied by the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Volvo S60. It costs this much because it isn’t assembled in India and is imported from Thailand, thus ruling out the tax breaks offered to locally produced cars (it is, as a hybrid, still eligible for excise duty and VAT benefits). Whether you’re prepared to pay German money for a Japanese car depends entirely on how attached you are to the Accord badge – and Honda says the first batch has already been sold out.