“Face-lift” you ask, “where?” And you’re right; the changes are difficult to spot at first. The stretched-out proportions, the planted stance and the crisp detailing are all the same, and this car does look very similar in the flesh. But look closer and you will home in on some new bits.
I’m referring to the new grille of the car, of course, which has changed from a slot-like opening to a more aggressive ‘V’. The most visible changes however are the twin chrome bars that flank the attractive-looking Honda ‘H’. And the front bumper is less sporty and more grown up; those sunken machine gun pod-like fog lamps have been excluded.
The V6 model we’re driving also has new 10-spoke alloys (I preferred the earlier design), an extra bar of chrome under the tail-lamps and, though not on the car pictured, there is a new chin and spoiler on this top-spec car as well. A sunroof is standard on both the 2.4 and the V6 models, and this is something that will be much appreciated by many of the Accord’s lady customers.
With new wood trim available on the inside and iPod seamlessly hooked up, the Accord’s interiors are an even better place to be in. Also, with the acres of space available, this seems the perfect vehicle to cover the 204km from Delhi to Agra.
I started off in the back seat, where comfort levels are really easy to appreciate. We’d only recently been comparing the likes of the Merc S-class, BMW 7-series and the Audi A8, and this built-for-size XXL American Accord felt nearly as roomy and spacious. Support for the shoulders, back and thighs is fantastic, and even after an hour and a half in the rear seat, I felt just as comfortable.
I also loved the audio controls in the flip-down elbow rest, the fact that you have a good view of the road ahead and, of course, most of all, the pliant ride. Earlier versions of the Accord suffered from low speed ride that could only be termed as ‘crashy’. But not the new Accord which swallows most bad patches in the road like a sponge, and the pitching associated with a soft suspension isn’t too bad either.
Honda has also improved the interior quality of its cars over the years, and the fit and finish on this car is really good. The Accord may still not have the tough build of a European car but it doesn’t feel as flimsy as it did before. What is still missing are essential bits like steering-mounted audio controls, powered passenger seats and Xenon lamps, among other things.
Time to get behind the wheel and see if this 271bhp 3.5-litre V6 feels as potent as it did when we tested it earlier; I am immediately impressed and not just by the smooth and linear throttle responses or engine refinement.
What’s blown me away is how seamlessly and often the Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system cuts cylinders off to improve fuel efficiency. The green ECO light pops up on the dash every time I lift off the gas or use a steady throttle for more than a couple of seconds, and this proves how well this system functions. You will not see the benefits of VCM in start-stop traffic, but once you travel at speeds above 50kph, the system seems to come on quite regularly. Open stretches of road deliver the greatest thrill. The potent, light and free-revving V6 is an absolute joy to use. It delivers considerable punch after 4500rpm and the best bit is that it keeps pulling hard in a linear manner all the way to 7000rpm. And it’s not just that this big V6 with large pistons and other heavy bits spins so high; it’s the manner in which it does it – smooth and bursting with enthusiasm, not strained in any way. For the record, this car does 0-100kph in 8.64 seconds, and then 200kph is a mere 18sec away. When we tested the car earlier, we also found the 3.5 to be more efficient than the earlier 3.0-litre V6. Still 6.7kpl in the city is something to consider. Also, quite disappointing is the handling. While the Accord does feel well balanced and points in nicely, the soft suspension, inert steering and only average agility mean this is a car that does not really like being cornered hard.
Very spacious, very comfortable and very fast, the Accord V6 is a great choice for chauffeur-driven owners who like to sometimes take the wheel. It isn’t cheap at Rs 26.18 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and will not drive anywhere as well as a BMW 3-series. But if you want S-class-like space and E-class-like pace at a more affordable price, look no further.