Bigger and better

Bigger and better

Balbeer S Jessy

SINCE 1990, nearly 50,000 Honda Accords have been sold in Malaysia, with

local assembly starting in the early `80s. So, when the long awaited 7th

generation Honda Accord was launched in Malaysia in November 2003, much

was expected of the three versions – the 2.0 VTi, 2.4 VTi-L and 3.0 V6.

Honda Malaysia did not disappoint Accord fans by bringing in the bigger

American variant, which has a more spacious interior and luxurious

comfort, instead of the Japanese or European version.

Two of the new upgraded Accords – the 2.0 VTi and 2.4VTi-L – are locally

assembled at the Honda Malaysia plant in Melaka, while the 3.0 V6, a

Completely Built-Up (CBU) unit, is from the Honda plant in Thailand.

The new Accord was voted `Car of the Year’ in Japan in 2002, and the

range is expected to further boost the sales of Honda cars in Malaysia.

However, with the new duty structure recently announced, Honda Malaysia

may have to do some new calculations as the prices go up further.

Nevertheless, Malaysian Business had the privilege of being the first to

test-drive the powerful 3.0 litre V6, which had us cruising up north to

Langkawi and back in three days.

STYLING

Aerodynamic efficiency of the new body is impressive at 0.26 Cd and this

is apparent in the tight interfacing of body panels with only a slight

inset for glass panels, allowing the air to flow smoothly around the car.

The styling follows that of the US make, which is notable with the large

headlights and luxurious space. Described as a `sporty premium sedan’, the

Accord has, in fact, changed its image from its predecessors with its

visually attractive looks.

Its new styling, with gentle curves, better looks and bigger dimensions

has attracted many onlookers. It is a large car by Japanese standards, but

has much elegance that gives it a sporty air.

MB rating: ****

INTERIOR

The V6 Accord’s interior is certainly more spacious than before, with a

lot of attention given to making the cabin comfortable.

Redesigned seats help to reduce body fatigue and for the driver, there

is steering column adjustment, which tilts and telescopes, and eight-way

adjustable seats. Enhanced luxury includes self-illuminating meters, dual

zone air-conditioning, a DSP high quality audio module and cruise control.

The large instrument panel and dials contribute to improved safety, as

they are easier to read. The instruments are permanently illuminated and

are pleasing to look at while driving.

MB rating: ****

RIDE & HANDLING

The V6 comes with automatic transmission, with five forward ratios and

electronic management for smooth and efficient operation.

Honda is known for its handling and ride comfort, and the Accord is no

exception. Although it still uses the double wishbone suspension system,

this has been upgraded to accommodate the larger body and bigger engine

capacity.

The V6 is an extremely comfortable car, thanks to its huge interior and

excellent engine management system. Cruising along the highway was a

breeze, with the cabin extremely quiet.

The power assisted rack-and-pinion steering system gave precise turning

while imparting road feel even at high speeds.

MB rating: ****

ENGINE & PERFORMANCE

The Accord V6 still uses a SOHC VTEC engine, which produces 177 kW/ 240

ps at 6,250 rpm and 287 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm. This engine is very

popular in the US and many of its components are imported from there.

This multi-valve with a single cam arrangement suits the V6 as it caters

to a niche market. VTEC or (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic

Control) allows high power at high speeds and ample torque in the mid to

low speed range with excellent fuel economy.

Such is the fuel efficiency that the full tank of our V6 only required

refilling during our return trip from Langkawi at Sungei Petani.

MB rating: *****

SAFETY

The rigid body shell was developed using Honda’s own G-CON (G- Force

Control) technology, which ensures that there is ample impact absorption

to prevent serious injuries from occurring to the occupants during an

accident.

Additionally, the new Accord comes with a full complement of safety

devices for front and rear passengers. Dual airbags with phased deployment

are standard at the front and the front seats have a special design to

reduce whiplash. On the Accord V6, there are also side airbags fitted to

the front seats.

For Active Safety, all versions have four-wheel disc brake ABS with

electronic brake force distribution (EBD) while the V6 also gets Traction

Control System (TCS). This offers excellent road holding even during a

heavy downpour.

MB rating: ****

VALUE FOR MONEY

The Accord 3.0 V6 is priced at RM209,800 for a metallic finish,

including insurance and road tax (private registration). All the three new

Accords come with a three-year warranty and two years of free maintenance

for labour, parts and lubricants.

The imported V6 has many extras, including a sunroof and even turn

indicators on the door mirrors. Leather upholstery is standard for the V6.

A light brown trim colour with cream makes the interior look brighter and

more spacious.

But the 3.0 V6 is a niche player in a tight market where many

established Continental competitors have already made their mark.

MB rating: ****

CONCLUSION

The Accord has made great inroads in establishing itself across a broad

range market segment. This is the first time it is venturing into the 3.0

litre market – which has always been the domain of Continental

manufacturers.

However, among the incentives Honda customers get to enjoy with the 3.0

V6 is the Honda Insurance Package that, among other benefits, gives access

to a 24-hour emergency toll-free call centre.

The Honda Assist, on the other hand, provides free towing and roadside

assistance while ensuring the use of genuine Honda parts.

With the extended warranty and the Honda brand name, the 3.0 V6 should be

able to stand on its own as one of the few Japanese makes in the 3.0 litre

segment.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION – Honda Accord 3.0 V6

Engine

Type SOHC VTEC 24 valve V6

Displacement 2,997 cc

Bore & stroke 86mm X 86mm

Compression ratio 10.0:1

Fuel system Electronic multi-point fuel injection

Maximum power 177kW (240PS) @ 6,250 rpm

Maximum torque 287Nm (29.3kg-m) @ 5,000 rpm

Chassis

Transmission Five-speed electronic automatic

Front suspension Independent double wishbones, coil springs,

shock absorbers, stabiliser bar

Rear suspension Independent double wishbones located by

five links, coil springs, shock absorbers,

stabiliser bar

Steering Rack and pinion, power assisted

Brakes Ventilated discs/solid discs

Wheels 6.5JJ X 16

Tyres 205/60 R16

Dimensions

Overall length 4,830 mm

Overall width 1,820 mm

Overall height 1,455 mm

Wheelbase 2,740 mm

Kerb weight 1,545 mm

Fuel tank 65 litres

OUR VERDICT

Factor Rating

Styling ****

Interior ****

Ride & handling ****

Engine & performance *****

Safety ****

Value for money ****

Overall rating ****

Rating Key

***** To die for

**** Impressive, but…

*** Good but can improve

** Just OK

* Passable

Copyright 2004

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.