Photos of Honda's new Accord and Accord Tourer (wagon) were first released several weeks ago, but the automaker showed the vehicle in the flesh for the first time on its Geneva stand. Again, the model is a different car completely than what is sold in the U.S. under the same name but closely related to the U.S.-market Acura TSX.
The new Accord is of much importance since, in Europe, its predecessor could never meet the expectations of the Japanese producer. This generation is the third that has been developed while benchmarking the BMW 3-Series. And although driving qualities have never been an issue, styling was regarded a bit dull. But the more dynamic-looking new Accord might do the job, with a rear end that has styling that resembles that of the new BMW models.
Honda introduces a slew of new systems on the Accord sedan that might be available, depending on the engine version. They are bundled under the name ADAS (Advanced Driving Assist System) and LKAS (Lane Keeping Assist System), and recognizes if the driver is changing lanes without using the turn signal, then interferes to steer the car back into its lane. Adaptive Cruise Control also debuts on the Accord, along with as CMBS (Collision Mitigation Brake System), a system that checks the distance to cars ahead and prepares the driver as well as the safety systems in the car for a possible collision.
Motion Adaptive Electric Power steering is the fourth system under ADAS; it reacts when the tires slip during cornering or braking and gives a faint steering input that forces the driver to countersteer, thus stabilizing the car.
In Europe, ADAS will be an option for the Executive models with the brand-new 150-hp 2.2 i-DTEC clean diesel engine (with 258 lb-ft) and the updated 2.0 i-VTEC and 2.4 i-VTEC gasoline engines, which have 156 and 200 hp respectively. Performance and fuel efficiency figures haven't been released yet.
The new Accord comes with a Shift Indicator Light, to help the driver choose the best moments to shift the six-speed manual gearbox that is teamed to all engines as standard equipment. Honda claims that in tests the respective engines used five percent less fuel by paying attention to the shift lights. All engines meet the new Euro5 emission standard that will be applied by the end of 2009.
At Geneva, Honda brought its FCX Clarity to the Old World for the first time, showing European crowds the latest development of Honda’s fuel-cell technology. And while we couldn't get an answer as to whether it will be available for corporate or private lease in Europe, lease sales will begin in Japan this fall.
Takeo Fukui, President and CEO of Honda Motor Co., also reiterated that in 2009 Honda will put a new ‘dedicated’ hybrid model on the market at an affordable price.
In the meantime, Honda is continuing to do better in Europe, with 376.000 units sold on the Continent last year, marking a sixth consecutive record and an all-time high.—Henny Hemmes