1. Car review: Honda Accord Hybrid; carmaker re-enters Indian premium sedan segment

Car review: Honda Accord Hybrid; carmaker re-enters Indian premium sedan segment

It’s a big car—longer than BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class—and almost as luxurious. It’s powerful—212bhp of maximum output—yet has a claimed fuel-efficiency of 23.1kpl that can put some small cars to shame.

By: | Updated: October 21, 2016 7:05 AM
2016-honda-accord-hybrid-india-l The front fascia gets sharply-creased character lines, the lower portion of which tucks into intake-like meshed areas that house LED fog-lamps.

It’s a big car—longer than BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class—and almost as luxurious. It’s powerful—212bhp of maximum output—yet has a claimed fuel-efficiency of 23.1kpl that can put some small cars to shame. On a full tank, it can carry five passengers in comfort for more than 1,000 km. The Accord, which Honda will launch on October 25, is back in a hybrid avatar.

The exterior design is expressive. The front fascia gets sharply-creased character lines, the lower portion of which tucks into intake-like meshed areas that house LED fog-lamps. The grille, similarly, neatly merges into headlamps. There are blue accents on the grille, headlights and taillights, which, along with the ‘hybrid’ badging, provide the car a distinctive look. It rides on sporty 18-inch alloy wheels.

There’s expansive use of LED lighting. Headlights, daytime running lights, taillights and fog-lamps—all are LED.
The cabin is luxurious; craftsmanship is of a high order. Leather upholstery is done up in a shade of white, with wood grain inserts. The surface—from interior door handles to seat controls to the instrument panel, steering wheel and switchgear—is pleasing to touch.

The speedometer is the largest feature in the instrument cluster. A multi-information display (MID) is positioned in the centre of the speedometer and provides a range of information and trip computer functions. The display is white-on-black, providing data such as exterior temperature, trip information, engine oil life, energy flow indicator, etc.

Honda has placed the most frequently used controls on the steering wheel. So you can play music, receive and make phone calls, and view all trip-related information without taking your hands off the wheel.

Seats are comfortable and supportive. Honda says a lot of technology, and thought, has gone into designing the cabin. For example, the front seats have a lateral support to help secure the occupants when cornering, and the front headrests are of a size to afford rear passengers a better view of the road ahead.

There are plenty of cubbyholes. Large cup-holders just ahead of the storage compartment between the front seats, and a bottle holder and storage bin in each door. The rear seating area has a fold-down padded centre armrest with dual cup-holders.

The Accord Hybrid gets the Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) two-motor hybrid powertrain. It uses a two-motor hybrid approach with three operating modes—electric vehicle drive, hybrid drive and petrol engine drive.

Under most conditions, the car operates in the hybrid drive mode—in this mode, the petrol engine operates as a generator, supplying electric power to hybrid batteries, and power to wheels is supplied by the electric propulsion motor. At very low speeds, the Accord Hybrid operates on electric power only, with the petrol engine shut off. However, the electric-only range is very limited—about 1 km.

The car is peppy and fun-to-drive. As you floor the accelerator pedal, it takes off like a cat possessed. On a lighter foot, you get amazing fuel-efficiency. The claimed is 23.1kpl. In real-world driving conditions, expect about 17kpl. A 60-litre fuel tank translates into a very long range of over 1,000 km.

The petrol engine is a 1993cc, four-cylinder unit. It develops a maximum output of 143bhp and a maximum torque of 175Nm. There are two electric motors—a propulsion motor that drives the wheels and a generator motor that creates electricity.

The Intelligent Power Unit (IPU), located behind the rear seat, consists of a DC-to-DC converter and a 1.3 kWh Li-Ion battery pack that powers the propulsion motor. In most other hybrid cars the battery-pack takes up more than one-third of the boot space. But in the Accord Hybrid it takes up little space, maximising the usability of the luggage compartment. There is no spare tyre in the car, but a tyre repair kit under the floor of the luggage compartment. The battery pack is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

For entertainment, there is a seven-inch touchscreen that lets you swipe, tap and pinch—just like on a smartphone—to control the vehicle’s audio system, display settings and other features. The icons it displays also resemble smartphone apps. Sound quality is impressive—the audio system is 360-watt, seven-speaker system, and the system is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compliant.

For those hot days when you want your car’s cabin to cool before you step in, there is a remote engine start feature built in the key fob. To start the engine remotely and switch on the AC, you can press the ‘lock’ button on the key fob and then hold the ‘engine’ button for a second. The car’s hazard lights will flash, indicating that the signal has been received.

While there are numerous safety features, a unique feature is LaneWatch that enhances the driver’s view of side traffic. There is a tiny camera on the left-side mirror that activates when the driver signals left, and a video appears on the central display, showing the driver traffic, pedestrians or objects falling in the vehicle’s blind spot.

The Accord was first launched in India in 2001. In November 2013, it was discontinued, clocking total sales of 27,392 units.

The Accord Hybrid is a massively improved product. As far as luxury is concerned, it matches the three Germans, and appears to enjoy an edge over its direct competitor—the Rs 30.9 lakh Toyota Camry Hybrid. However, unlike the Camry Hybrid, which is assembled locally—and thus qualifies for government subsidy under the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles) scheme—the Accord Hybrid is a CBU import and won’t qualify for subsidies. That means the price could shoot up to Rs 35-40 lakh. Is it still worth it? For the technology you get, it is.

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