Honda is one of those companies that seems to be everywhere. A large number of motorcycles you see daily come from his brand, many of you may have owned a Honda lawnmover and everyone knows a Ballade owner. For the most part, we associate the Japanese firm with cars, but its interests and products are widespread and varied.
Over the last few decades, South Africans have been privy to its automobiles. While we are aware of the brand and may know several of its models, Honda is a fringe brand that is not quite as popular as Volkswagen and Toyota. Which is not to say that it does have not good products. Indeed, a few of the brand’s models have been regular contenders and winners in CAR’s annual Top-12 awards’ competition.
Recently, I had the chance to reacquaint myself with the largest passenger car on offer from Honda SA, the Accord. This D-segment competitor has just undergone a mid-life revision/facelift/upgrade; call it what you will. Apart from the newly sculpted tail- and headlamps, there is little to mark this car apart from the one that it “replaced”.
On a recent visit to the Reef, I got to drive the newly introduced high-output version of Honda’s 2,2-litre turbodiesel. This powerplant’s debut coincided with the mid-life refresh. The oil-burner develops 132 kW and 380 N.m of torque whilst returning 5,8 litres/100 km and 151 g of CO2 emissions/km.
The engine has a forceful power delivery that can set the traction control light blinking if you are sloppy with the accelerator pedal. But once away from standstill, there is a surfeit of torque on offer to make for a smooth, relaxed ride. There is a typically slick Honda six-speed manual transmission to help stay in the fat part of the torque curve. Although I have not tried it, I suspect I may enjoy the five-speed auto transmission a little more.
Ride quality is excellent, despite the large alloys and, while the handling characteristics are not overly entertaining, there is a high level of grip provided by the independent suspension set-up at both ends.
The Exclusive model that was on loan to me lacked for nothing short of a satellite navigation system and, as I tend to know my way around Johannesburg and surrounds, this omission was not really an issue. Standard seat heaters kept my popo warm during the cool Jo’burg evenings and the Bluetooth phone connectivity allowed me to safely make calls while sitting in traffic.
At R396 200, the Accord Sedan 2,2 i-DTEC Executive is not cheap and it is not expected to be as it is very well-equipped luxury car. See, the problem with the D-segment is that – as Volkswagen, Mazda, Volvo and Honda know too well – the established German triumvirate are SO well priced that people are faced with a nearly foregone conclusion. Would YOU rather have a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, or a Honda Accord? It’s a tough call but, as the Accord is a very good car, those who opt for the Japanese alternative are seldom, if ever, disappointed.