James Atkinson, an inventor in the mid-1800, gave us the cycle engine technology where the arrangement used poppet valves, a cam and an over-center arm to produce four piston strokes for each revolution of the crankshaft. This resulted in significantly longer compression and intake strokes than the exhaust and power strokes. What this translates into is a more fuel efficient engine. The Honda Accord Hybrid is one modern example of a heritage technology that has witnessed evolution over the years and has been applied in hybrid vehicles. My first impressions were quite lasting about the new offering from the Japanese carmaker. Let's find out all the details then.
All generations of the Accord designed by Honda were meant to look elegant and this is no different. The thick single chrome slat upfront merges beautifully with the LED headlamps that house the LED indication lamps and Daytime Running Lamps as well. The new car is leaner, shorter but taller than its predecessor but this three-box looks even more graceful than ever.
Move to the side and it is unmistakably Honda. The taut shoulder line runs from the front fender and goes all the way up to the C pillar, merging with the rear. Like the front and the side, the rear also gets subtle yet graceful hints of the company's philosophy of 'Man Maximum, Machine Minimum'. The thick chrome slat-like the one upfront, number plate housing, LED tail lamps, all merge together to create a rather sophisticated appeal.
Move inside the luxury sedan and there are features and technologies that one would expect on a luxury vehicle. Buttons surrounded on the steering wheel for audio and cruise controls make sure the driver has a completely undistracted experience. The combination of the beige and dark grey theme with faux wood inserts enhance the elegant appeal. You also get two screens, one for the lane departure warning, which is Honda's exclusive patent and an AVN or Audio, Video & Navigation unit that pairs with a smartphone.
The Honda Accord Hybrid also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality that mirrors the smartphone's screen on the infotainment. All this technology with the upmarket tactile feel is something the Accord Hybrid excels at. In order to cool the cabin beforehand if the Accord Hybrid is parked in the sun, Honda have provisioned a remote start function. Once in the car, all you need to do is press the brake pedal and press the start/stop button.
Add to this the wide seats in both rows with adequate bolstering for a six feet plus person and impressive underthigh support, you have the perfect blend of what a luxury sedan with all the bells and whistles should be. The rear seats, despite being adjusted for my height (for reference I am six feet two inches tall), had acres of legroom, knee room and headroom. Underthigh support and recline, like the front seats, is brilliant.
A noteworthy mention is the electrically adjustable co driver's seat that has switches on one side to adjust the seat by the passenger sitting behind it. So, more room for the person who is being chauffer driven through the day.
Engine, Powertrain and Transmission
For starters, this car isn't a conventional hybrid where the engine intervenes or assists in charging the battery and driving the vehicle when needed. The Accord Hybrid's electric motor is connected to the front wheels and there is no link of the engine with the wheels. So, the technology is other way round. Press the Start button in the car and there is pin drop silence and the Accord Hybrid starts in an all-electric mode when having enough charge.
Engage the car in Drive and if needed, the Atkinson's cycle 2.0-litre engine fires up to charge the battery. As mentioned earlier, the Atkinson's cycle engine was chosen for better fuel efficiency and this is one forte where the Honda Accord Hybrid won't disappoint you in any way. During our short stint of 90 kilometres the luxury sedan delivered an impressive 17.9 km/l. The company claims 23.01 km/l and I would not be surprised if the vehicle delivers that efficiency figure. The lower figure on our test involved the car parked for various images and the car not turned off during the entire duration. Another feature is the electronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) that offers an infinite number of ratios, leading to higher fuel-efficiency. The typical rubber-band effect associated with CVTs persists in the Accord Hybrid, robbing a bit of the driving fun.
Another driving mode is the brake regeneration mode or 'B' mode which enhances engine braking and comes in handy while descending from a hill , lowering the load on the brakes.
The driver can also choose to drive the car in an all-electric mode which would have a range of a tad less than two kilometres. That is a bit of a disappointment considering the less carbon footprint the Accord Hybrid has. One of the reasons for this short range is that the Accord Hybrid a practical family/ business sedan, which needs to have ample boot space, limiting the space for batteries. Talking of the boot, one can fit large suitcases with ease, owing to the large aperture and low loading lip. An additional sports mode is also present for a more engaging driving experience and the making the best of the combined power output of 215 hp.
The 'green' car has impeccable NVH proofing and there is very little hum that the occupants would get in case the pedal is floored. Road presence is something one would not have to worry about. The Accord Hybrid exudes the appeal of a senior management employee working for a reputed MNC. Overall, a comfortable and an elegant car to drive which would be noticed the second time by onlookers.
Ride and Handling
All the generations of the Honda Accord have been praised for their brilliant ride and handling. And the Honda Accord Hybrid is even better. The active electronic dampers in the suspension setup makes sure the sedan doesn't get rattled over undulations.
The ride is a bit stiff but that said, it isn't unsettling. The slight stiffness keeps the sedan composed over tight corners and the driver doesn't lose confidence at any speed. Overall, my experience with the luxury sedan's ride quality and handling left a lasting impression like its predecessors.
The Honda Accord Hybrid has safety features loaded to the hilt with airbags all around, ABS with EBD, traction control, hill start assist and lots more. An unexpected situation while driving asked for hard braking and the sedan was composed throughout. A noteworthy mention goes to Honda's exclusive Lane Departure Warning system. A camera mounted on the left ORVM turns on with the video feed coming on the screen in the centre console. In this case, the driver knows what is in the blindspot and does not have to move his/her head away from the road to see the left ORVM. Personally, I would have loved is this feature was also available for the right side as well.
The Round Up
So, the Accord Hybrid is loaded with features and can run over 900 kilometres on a full tank of fuel with the combination of the electric motor and the Atkinson's cycle engine. The spacious and well-appointed cabin keeps even taller occupants in complete comfort and offers impressive safety as well.
The Honda Accord Hybrid then is the car for an environmentally conscious buyer who wants a practical luxury sedan that is loaded with features. The only grouse is that unlike the Toyota Camry Hybrid which is assembled here, the Accord Hybrid is a direct import which means you'll have to pay Rs 37 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, to get one to your home. That slots it dangerously close to the price bracket of the luxury sedans by the German carmakers although those cars are smaller than the Accord Hybrid.
A hard decision would have to be made!