Honda's latest generation of Accord is a fine car but won't quicken anyone's pulse
Road Test: 2013 Honda Accord V6
A Thoroughbred Reborn. So goes the wording on a huge advertising banner that sits alongside Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. And normally the word thoroughbred, at least when we're talking cars, is reserved for the upper echelons of the sports car sector. Here, though, the advertising copywriter is referring to the latest Honda Accord, not some slice of Italian or German exotica. Perhaps he or she was taken in by Honda's other slogan: The Power of Dreams.
The majority of Honda's current output is, indeed, enough to put you to sleep but the new Accord, says its maker, will fulfil all our expectations. Honda says it "satisfies every need of the sophisticated modern driver". So let's see, shall we?
You'd be hard-pressed to tell this new model apart from the outgoing Accord, so similar are they in external appearance. Honda has chosen to play it safe, while its rivals from South Korea, Europe and elsewhere seem to be embracing more dynamic design and, it has to be said, increasing their market share, particularly with those all-important younger buyers. The result is that the Accord neither delights nor offends the eye, instead being a bit bland (something that is actually helped by the addition of an aero styling kit).
The interior is similarly inoffensive and manages to convey a sense of well-being thanks to its quality materials, but it's never going to quicken the pulse. The main instrumentation is pleasingly laid out and the dash is dominated by a large, central screen that displays the navigation map and - really useful this - doubles up as a rear view mirror. There's a small camera secreted under the passenger side door mirror that operates when the driver indicates to make a right turn. In an instant, the screen displays a full view of the car's rear three-quarter surroundings, giving you a clear indication of what's to the side of you, or behind, alleviating any blind spots that may hinder your view as you pull over.
It works very well, although at night it tends not to cope with the dazzling headlamps of other drivers. But it's definitely a really good option for our roads, where cars often approach at breakneck speed from either side of you.
On the move, the Accord is supremely comfortable, quiet and refined, which comes as no surprise. It glides with consummate ease over the roughest road surfaces and the 3.5L V6 engine is the very embodiment of smoothness. Put your foot down and it's like pouring honey, shifting through the automatic gearbox silently and without hesitation. It all feels extremely well engineered and I can imagine that, had I spent my own money on this car, I'd be rather pleased with myself. Because it does everything you need it to, with a feeling that reliability and utmost efficiency are part of its very core.
That creamy six-pot engine is good for 276hp, and it does shift along nicely. It's even able to spin the front wheels, with the tyres offering a small chirrup, if you stab at the throttle at a crawling pace, with mild overtones of torque steer. I'm not complaining about this; in fact it's simply a reminder that there's a decent engine under the bonnet because you'd never know it just by using your ears. In almost all situations the Accord remains completely silent.
This is the ninth generation of Accord since the model's 1976 debut and, while it doesn't really bring anything new to the table in terms of styling or driving, it is comprehensively better in every respect when compared to the previous models. There are many owners who are fiercely loyal to this brand and wouldn't be seen driving anything else. If you're one of them, no doubt you'll be extremely impressed by this car.
But for those who like to be thrilled and entertained when behind the wheel (and yes, there are saloon cars out there that manage that), this Honda "thoroughbred" is unlikely to factor in their new car purchasing decisions. It's a really good, capable car, although I can't help the feeling that Honda is still capable of producing a great one.
Cast your mind back to the third generation Accord, built between 1985 and 1989. It was individual, styled in a way that appealed to buyers all over the world and it was technically advanced - it even had pop-up headlamps, which meant kids thought it was cool for a four-door saloon car. If only some of that creative spark could come back to this company's design team.
The Power of Dreams should not be underestimated, but perhaps Honda's designers and engineers should try munching on a bit of cheese before hitting the sack.