Honda Accord 1.5T: Executive Challenge

Elegantly athletic, yet understated by comparison to some contemporaries, the Honda Accord gives the premium executives a run for their money with sporty yet supple and nuanced drivability, eager and punchy delivery and plenty of comfort and convenience.

Photos by Ghaith Madadha, on location in Jordan

A standout in the mid-size mainstream front-drive saloon segment, the Honda Accord is a more rewarding drive than many ostensible competitors, but meanwhile has the class, comfort and kudos to punch above its category as viable premium mid-size segment alternative. Normally priced to reflect this position, the Accord is among the dearer end of the larger mid-size segment, yet is a veritable bargain next to the premium category. However, with a mildly refreshed version recently announced and soon to arrive, the outgoing – now significantly discounted – 2020 Accord has never looked better.

A thoroughly classy car that well walks a fine line between the sporty and elegant in its aesthetic, the Accord cuts a contemporarily assertive figure that is tempered and comparatively in-ostentatious. Next to some unnecessarily aggressive competitors, it can even be seen as somewhat conservative but in a good way, in that its design promises just the right level of athletic ability that its drive-line and chassis can deliver. Without fake side ducts and vents nor overly-ridged or complex surfacing, the Accord is gracefully sporting in its proportions and stance.

The Accord’s most assertive design aspect is its jutting shark-nose with the near obligatorily wide and full length grille and slim squinting headlights, recessed deep beneath a full-width decorative chrome bar. Sculpted surfacing includes a scalloped clamshell bonnet, and gently arcing waistline crease. Meanwhile, the Accord’s rakish fastback-like roofline and its rising and prominent sill line are set on converging trajectories and a tapered, somewhat sportily low bootlid with integrated spoiler. Athletic yet elegant, the Accord’s stance seems both dignified, yet eager to pounce. Its rear meanwhile features integrated dual exhaust ports and boomerang-like lights.

Powered by a small turbocharged direct injection 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing and lift, the driven Accord EX-L packs a potent 192BHP at 5,500rpm and muscular 192lb/ft torque throughout an accessibly broad 1,600-5,000rpm band. Weighing in at a comparatively moderate 1,546kg and front-driven through silky smooth continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Accord’s turbo spools up quickly and delivers good response from standstill. With a small tug of the steering wheel and brief tyre chirp at full throttle, the Accord pounces through 0-100km/h in an estimated 8-seconds or less.

Smooth and muscular with generous mid-range pull and a distant guttural snarl at higher revs, the Accord’s compact but punchy engine delivers its best at relatively low revs, but is nevertheless eager and perky to its rev limit, with good throttle control and lift-off precision. Its CVT is meanwhile seamless through ratios and while there are no simulated fixed ratios to manually select, it is however responsive to throttle input and allows the engine to rev freely, and helps return modest 7.2l/100km fuel efficiency. Observed consumption during demanding test drive conditions was meanwhile unexpectedly low.

Confidently strident on steep inclines, the Accord’s CVT meanwhile features ‘Sport’ and ‘Low’ positions for better responsiveness and to keep revs simmering high at lower speeds. One of the sportiest front-drive saloons in its class, the Accord is at home through fast sweeping bends, hill climbs and through brisk snaking country lanes. Turning tidily into corners with its quick and light 2.3-turn steering, the Accord changes direction eagerly and delivers good textured feel and feedback for road and vehicle position, for its segment, and allows for confident flick of the wrist driving.

Grippy and committed through fast sweepers, snaking lanes and even hairpin hill climbs, the Accord is nothing short of a joy to drive across sprawling countryside roads. However it is at its best being pushed close to but not quite at its dynamic limits to avoid the expected understeer when being driven too hard and tight into lower traction corners. That said, and despite its front-drive architecture’s front weight bias, the accord can also be nudged out at the rear before stability controls quickly step in.

A confident, stable and reassuring ride at speed, the Accord is a natural long distance cruiser and is also comfortable, maneuverable and responsive in town. Through imperfect and textured lanes, the Accord comes into its own, and fluently and forgivingly absorbs and dispatches lumps and bumps, and remains composed and controlled in vertical and lateral movement. Settled and buttoned down over crests and dips, the Accord’s ride quality is nuanced and comfortable, and only feels slightly firm over the most jagged imperfections, owing to moderately low profile 225/50R17 tyres.

Supple and settled with good cabin refinement, the Accord delivers a relaxed yet alert and focused driving environment. Seated in comfortable, supportive and well-adjustable seats, the Accord’s driving position and suspension vertical control work to keep the driver feeling in control and at the heart of proceedings. Controls are meanwhile user-friendly and within easy reach, and include clear digital instrumentation, driver-oriented gear lever and chunky contoured steering wheel. Cabin room is generous in front, while rear seating provides good legroom, and decent headroom, even with the low slung roofline and optional sunroof.

Classy, uncomplicated and pleasantly conservative inside, the Accord’s cabin offers better visibility than many cars with similarly rakish rooflines, while materials used are of good quality textures, fit and finish, and include dark wood dash panels. Well thought out, it features useful storage spaces and good 473-litre luggage volume with decent bootlid aperture, flat floor and under-floor spare tyre. Driven in higher spec EX-L guise, the Accord features numerous mod cons and safety features, including reversing camera and sensors, multiple airbags, memory seats and more, currently at JD33,900 for 2020 models.

Specifications: Honda Accord 1.5T EX-L

  • Engine: 1.5-litre, transverse turbocharged 4-cylinders
  • Bore x stroke: 73 x 89.5mm
  • Compression ratio: 10.3:1
  • Valve-train: 16-valve, direct injection, DOHC, variable valve timing and lift control
  • Redline: 6,500rpm
  • Gearbox: Continually variable transmission (CVT), front-wheel-drive
  • Transmission ratios: 0.405-2.645
  • Reverse / final drive: 1.8-2.645 / 3.238
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 192 (195) [143] @5,500rpm
  • Specific power: 128.2BHP/litre
  • Power-to-weight: 124.2BHP/tonne
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 192 (260) @1,600-5,000rpm
  • Specific torque: 173.5Nm/litre
  • Torque-to-weight: 168.2Nm/tonne
  • 0-100km/h: 8-seconds (estimate)
  • Fuel consumption, urban / extra-urban / combined: 8.1-/6.5-/7.2-litres/100km
  • Fuel capacity: 56-litres
  • Length: 4,889mm
  • Width: 1,862mm
  • Height: 1,460mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,830mm
  • Track, F/R: 1,600 / 1,610mm
  • Headroom, F/R: 1,062/1,053mm
  • Legroom, F/R: 1,198/1,144mm
  • Shoulder room, F/R: 1,651/1,600mm
  • Hip room, F/R: 1,566/1,557mm
  • Luggage volume: 473-litres
  • Kerb weight: 1,546kg
  • Weight distribution, F/R: 59.7% / 40.3%
  • Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
  • Steering ratio: 11.77:1
  • Lock-to-lock: 2.3-turns
  • Turning Circle: 11.6-meters
  • Suspension, F/R: MacPherson struts / multi-link
  • Brakes, F/R: 292mm, ventilated discs / 282mm, discs
  • Tyres: 225/50R17
  • Price, on-the-road: JD33,900 (third party insurance)


Flashback


Honda Accord Saloon (1977-81)

A follow-up to the Civic’s success and Honda’s gambit into the mid-size segment, the Accord first launched in 1976 as a hatchback, with a saloon arriving in 1977, and face-lifted a year later. Refined and well-equipped for its era, the Accord Saloon was powered by 1.6- and 1.8-litre engines with 5-speed manual, 3-speed auto or 2-speed ‘Hondamatic’ gearbox options.

Specifications: Honda Accord Saloon 1.8L (1979)

Engine: 1.8-litre, 12-valve SOHC, transverse 4-cylinders; Gearbox: 5-speed manual, front-wheel-drive; Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 89 (90) [66] @5,300rpm; Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 97 (132) @3,000rpm; 0-100km/h: 12.5-seconds; Top speed: 161km/h; Length: 4,345mm; Width: 1,620mm; Height: 1,360mm; Wheelbase: 2,300mm; Ground clearance: 165mm; Weight: 960kg; Suspension: MacPherson struts