‘Where’s the Sport?’
The Accord Sport is Honda’s attempt to re-establish its technical credentials. Honda has branded its new hybrid drive system as ‘Multi-Mode Drive’, or iMMD for short. At its heart is the 2.0L petrol engine which is paired to two electric motors and a 1.3kWh Li-ion battery, all matched to a Continuous Variable Transmission and new generation drivechain. The combined output is 146kW and 307Nm of torque, which exceeds the 2.4L standard petrol Accord.
What’s the result? The iMMD system uses a super quiet and zippy electric motor on start up, but only for the first 2km. It can bump up to a hybrid mode where the petrol and primary electric motor work together, and once 70km/h hits, the petrol engine takes over entirely. The additional weight from the battery system outweighs any performance improvements over the 2.4L petrol variant.
On take-off, the result is satisfying. Marton Pettendy from motoring.com.au notes that “there is a surprising amount of torque… off the line” but despite the ‘Sport’ moniker, the Hybrid “offers performance equivalent to the entry level Accord”. This sentiment is shared across the board, with Stephen Ottley from Drive commenting that “performance is adequate… but it doesn’t possess the kind of shove you’d otherwise expect from a car with ‘Sport’ in its name”. Despite setbacks, the Hybrid is very fuel efficient, with an official 4.6L/100km compared to the 8L/100km for the standard Accord.
On the outside, the Accord Hybrid Sport is set apart from the standard petrol model with subtle blue detailing. The 2015 Hybrid Accord also has LED daytime lights, LED tail lights and handsome 18 inch alloys. The Accord certainly looks nice, but so does the competition; its natural competitor in terms of price and appeal is the Lexus ES 300h, which clocks in at over $60.
Internally, the theme of conservative sophistication continues, with Honda’s efforts to pitch a premium vehicle evident in the attention to detail. Mike Costello from Cars Guide says that the cabin is comfortable and spacious, a claim backed up by Marton Pettendy from motoring.com.au.
There are plenty of subtle luxuries, with soft touch plastic, wood grain surfaces, heated leather seats, eight inch touchscreen, electric window blinds and a panoramic sun roof. There is more than enough space for a small family, although the boot space is slim due to the size of the Li-ion battery.
Honda really managed to pack in the latest in motoring technology into the Sport Hybrid. In addition to the advanced Hybrid technology—such as kinetic energy regeneration systems—there is a multitude of safety features and driver asset technology.
The list of additional features is long, and include active cornering lights, active noise cancellation, Lane keep Assist, Lane Watch, adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking, sat nav, rain sensing wipers and six airbags. Cars under $60 don’t get much more advanced than this, and naturally the Accord scores a 5 Star ANCAP rating.
The 8 inch Multi-Information Display is the control centre for these functions. It also displays the multi angle reverse cameras, the Lane Watch blind spot monitoring system, fuel economy information as well as audio functions. However the Accord’s achievements in this area does not have everyone convinced. Nathan Ponchard from Wheels magazine concluded his assessment by asserting that “there’s no escaping the irritating flaws that conspire to undermine this car.”
The Accord Hybrid is Honda’s pitch to the premium luxury market with an advanced, technologically forward-thinking vehicle. Despite its name, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a performance car. It’s incredibly fuel efficient, roomy and feature-packed. It could be a great second car for a small family looking for luxury, though there are some compelling alternatives available.