Enter Honda’s V6 Accord: It’s a great car Sans Gravitas

Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (1)Honda Accord (2)Honda Accord (1)Honda Accord (6)

From the Iphone: A dusty country track and farm building

2013 Honda Accord2013 Honda Accord2013 Honda AccordHonda Accord (7)2013 Honda AccordHonda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (2)Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (5)Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (9)Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (6)Honda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (8)2013 Honda AccordHonda Accord VTiL V6 2014 (7)

When I mentioned to the boys that I was testing the Accord this week, I got WOOTS and hoots and jeers. They said some most unkind things about the Accord being boring and dull and not the sort of car that a gay boy would be seen in. However, gayboys come in all shapes and sizes and have much in the way of good taste. Most of us can turn the shabby in to chic, the boring in to brash, and the tinny in to tremendous. It’s all a matter of paradigm.

OUTSIDE:

The exterior of the all new Accord is quite conservative. It looks more modern than the model it replaced and is aimed at the well healed

Accord has put on a bit of weight since it was first sold as a medium sized hatch with a 2 speed semi-auto in the ‘70’s. In fact the big Honda is now a fully-fledged “Executive Saloon”, a term I am loathed to use. It conjures a sense of entitlement and privilege and powder-wigged flunkies dropping peeled grapes into your mouth while you breathe in the right direction. No, the Accord is more honest than that. It is now a properly defined premium luxury transport.

The V6 has man-sized 18” wheels to fill those big muscular arches, and a stance that says “I’ve arrived. I hate fuss and if you don’t like it you can naff-off!” There is no hiding the Japanese-ness about the metalwork. The front is aggressive, but like many Hondas before it, looks a little too big for the car to which it has been fitted. I was not a fan of either end of the car but our time together brought about a change in my attitude. The top model has new-fangled LED headlights and LED running lights for day-wear. For evening-wear, the rear end is the place to be where the LED lights sparkle. The line of light traces its way along the bottom edge of the lens in an Audi-esque kind of way. It’s all very classy.

The Cabin:

Inside, Honda adopted the “less is more” approach to interior design. I’m not keen on fake wood but there it is. For plastic wood, it isn’t too bad. It is thoughtful ergonomics that make the controls work. The Satnav, audio and climate control are controlled from the central command centre with secondary controls on the steering wheel. Also on the steering wheel is an adjustment for the Active cruise control which uses radar to keep a safe distance from the car in front as well as warning of impending doom. Should the Honda come over all cautious, it will throw out the anchors to avoid collision while flashing a warning in the display. You hardly need lift a finger and with the Satnav set, you only have to steer the accord letting the electronics take care of the rest.

I’m pleased to see (and feel) a good quality leather on the seats, doors, console and dashboard. There is an acre of cow covering everything in creation with metallic highlights adding a certain verisimilitude. The 8-way power adjustment adds further refinement. The cabin genuinely feels like a luxury contender. There will no doubt be many of you turning your nose up at the thought of a Honda being considered in those lofty circles but the ambience is undeniable. It is tasteful and club-like. And, by club, I mean the kind where gentleman imbibe from the top shelf, and their jackets are casually thrown over the seatbacks, not the DOOF-DOOF twinks-dancing-with-shirts-off kind of club.

The Drive:

There are two engines available, but only the V6 can be had at the uber lux end of the range. The 2.4L has 129 KW and has a 5 speed auto and the V6 has a more respectable 206 KW with a 6 speed auto. I’m disappointed at the lack of a 6th speed in the 4 cylinder models which seems a bit mean of Honda. It’s worth noting Accord’s mega-sexy stable mate, Accord Euro, only comes in the 2.4L option. Australia is the only market to be offered both the larger Accord and the smaller Accord Euro sold side by side.

The ride is extremely smooth but the handling suffers with the chassis tuned to the luxury rather than the sporty. If you want a sporty handler move on, there is nothing for you to see here. It’s on the road where some of the knickknacks make themselves known to you. The left hand door mirror has a nifty camera in it which displays on the centre LCD screen whenever you turn the left indicator on. You can manually operate it from the button on the end of the indicator stalk too. It gives a clearer view along the side of the car where bike riders and P platers often lurk just out of sight. The same screen displays the view rearward as you reverse but can be toggled through three aspect modes including one which points straight down.

In the era of electric parking brakes, Honda persists with the truly awful foot peddle. It is difficult to activate the parking brake if you have very long legs and seems archaic when a small button can be fitted to the centre console to do the same job. Parking a car should not require a level of physical dexterity that would make a Cirque du Soleil performer proud.

On the highway you can feel the road surface but it does require a bit of imagination. Honda have worked hard to provide a level of isolation in a kind of magic carpet kind of way. Brisk cornering elicits an alarming amount of body roll, but a no stage do you feel as though she will let go. If she was so inclined, her electronic nannies would whip the wayward behaviour back into line. The steering lacks Hondas usual directness and is a little disappointing, but both it and the ride feel unaffected by dirt roads. We spent a bit of time in the NSW Southern Highlands and visited dirt roads in varying states of repair. The Accord just wafted along in other-worldly comfort so the trade-off for handling feels somewhat justified. That is not to say it handles badly but the body roll can feel alarming at times. It would be a pleasure to take the V6 on a good old Aussie Road trip. There is plenty of room in the back for a couple of the chaps and luggage.

Should you find yourself being driven round by your very own powder-wigged flunky, the back seat can be instantly converted into a personal VIP room by raising the electric shade blind on the rear window, and the manual shade blinds on the rear side windows. While being driven to an exclusive function at Sydney Town Hall, we sipped Tanquers and Tonic. It feels good to see the streets quietly passing by knowing those outside can’t see in. Canoodling is not advised. Even with the blinds raised the rarefied environs of the comfy rear accommodations create a mood of confidence and privacy but it can come unglued in a jiffy. As we discovered to our regret, when the flunky selects reverse the rear blind automatically retracts. Don’t be caught in a Duchess of York moment when it does.

In my opinion Honda should be making much more of this spectacular 3.5 V6. It’s frightfully clever because it shuts off the fuel to cylinders that aren’t needed. For cruising, only 3 cylinders are used switching to 4 for a little boost. The full beast is unleashed only when needed. The driver is blissfully unaware that this goes on under the bonnet, just as it should be. One wonders why all 6 cylinder cars don’t do this.

The smaller 2.4L is a favourite and we love it especially in the smaller Accord Euro so is also well worth a look.

The boat has been pushed well and truly out to keep the cabin as quiet a grave. Active Noise Cancelling, first seen in Honda’s superb but short-lived Legend, makes the cabin almost silent. A microphone gathers sound from inside the cockpit and plays back an inverse wave through the speakers. You aren’t aware of it happening but it works the same way the headphones which can block a jet engine without even changing gears.

Honda took two big hits when the tsunami wiped out one assembly plant in Japan, then the Thai flood, wiped out another but they have come back stronger with good value and a quality build.

The Accord handles acceptably for a large premium saloon and is loaded with technology. The silky V6 is superbly smooth and the 6 speed auto is silky and intuitive. The Lane-watch (left hand mirror camera) is brilliant and the active noise cancelling is a sensation so it’s a shame that more Accords are not on the road. It is every bit as comfy as a BMW and the same price as the new VF Calais.

Would I buy one? No, I’d still take either the CRZ or the Accord Euro if I had to buy a Honda, the VF Holden Calais otherwise. I certainly wouldn’t shell out $80,000 more to buy and BMW or Mercedes badge just for the sake of it. I like those brands very much but there are good cars cheaper. Honda simply doesn’t have the gravitas of the Euro barges and in a way it’s a shame.

VTi 2.4-litre saloon: $31,490
VTi-S 2.4-litre saloon: $33,990
VTi-L 2.4- litre saloon: $41,490
VTi-L ADAS 2.4- litre saloon: $44,990
V6L 3.5- litre saloon: $51,990 (The test car)
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Engine: 3.5L V6 207KW
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
consumption: 9.2L combined/100km

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