Honda's chosen features and design criteria for the all-new Accord saloon firmly reposition it as a leading contender in the quality sports saloon market.
This is an Accord offering a more emotional experience, with distinctive styling, greater driving enjoyment from two lively DOHC i-VTEC engines and a tauter, more finely tuned chassis.
It is also an Accord offering a more rational proposition than before, demonstrated by its roomier cabin, increased levels of safety, greater refinement, superb fit and finish and high fuel efficiency.
Running through all these elements is a consistent high quality, evident in all visual, tactile and aural impressions and made possible by Honda's outstanding production standards.
In an acknowledgement of Europe's dominance in the sports sedan market, the new Accord's driving credentials have been developed extensively within Europe to create a package capable of competing in the international arena.
Emphasising the new Accord's technological sophistication and performance, power is provided by two all-aluminium DOHC i-VTEC engines of 2.0 and 2.4 litre capacity matched to new 5-speed and 6-speed manual transmissions respectively or a 5-speed automatic with Sequential Shift. Now firmly established within the Honda line-up, i-VTEC technology offers outstanding power and torque in all speed ranges plus excellent frugality thanks to the combined effects of VTEC (variable valve timing and lift electronic control) and VTC (variable timing control). Both engines are fully EU2005 compliant making them one of the best overall packages in terms of performance, cleanliness and fuel efficiency in the segment.
The 155 PS (114 kW) 2.0 litre engine delivers peak torque of 190 Nm at 4,500 rpm, and, a combined cycle consumption of 37.7 mpg (7.5 l/100 km) and CO2 emissions of just 179 g/km matched to the 5-speed transmission.
Maximum output of the 2.4 litre engine is 190 PS (140 kW) at 6,800 rpm, with torque of 220 Nm at 4,500 rpm. In combination with the new 6-speed transmission, it is capable of returning 9.4 l/100km on the combined cycle. Ensuring particularly smooth responses to driver input, this engine also features an electronic or drive-by-wire (DBW) throttle.
Standing out from the crowd
In a market segment noted for its conservatism, the Accord's distinctive and stylish design signals its individuality from the outset. Emphasising its sports saloon credentials, the harmonious proportions are characterised by a high curvature glass area and an aerodynamically efficient bluff rear end. Detailing such as mirror-mounted indicators and chrome door handles add to its unique character.
While the wheelbase remains unchanged, overall dimensions are increased, contributing to a more spacious cabin; indeed the width available to passengers is class-leading and combined with the smart new interior, makes for a cosseting, stress free environment. Considerable attention has been directed at the driving environment and full adjustment of the highly supportive seats, a steering column adjustable for reach and rake, plus striking 'black face' instrumentation with back-lit dials point to the driver-focused interior philosophy.
An increased specification includes rain sensitive wipers on selected models, an optional DVD satellite navigation system with touch screen operation and CD/radio packages offered as standard throughout the range. All Accords are equipped with dual zone climate control air conditioning, allowing the driver and front seat passenger to select their own preferred temperature independently of the other.
A comprehensive safety package which includes front and side airbags is now complemented by curtain airbags to offer enhanced security in the event of a side impact. The side curtain airbag deploys over a wide area to protect both front and rear seat occupants, especially from head impacts to the centre pillar.
Once again Honda fully anticipates strong results for the Accord in the Euro NCAP crash tests thanks to extensive body engineering designed to cope with impact energy in a controlled manner; similarly, the provision of a series of pedestrian protection measures should maintain the company's outstanding record to date in this section of the Euro NCAP tests.
Extensive sound proofing and vibration isolation add to the serenity within the Accord. Additional and more effective sound absorption materials are used extensively throughout the bodyshell and the adoption of a floating front sub-frame significantly reduces the levels of noise and vibration reaching occupants.
An outstanding feature of the Accord is its ability to penetrate the air and a drag coefficient of Cd 0.26 places it at the very forefront of the D-segment; such wind-cheating properties deliver better refinement and improved fuel consumption. To put this into perspective, the world's lowest drag coefficient for a production road car is the Honda Insight, which achieves a Cd of 0.25.
The aerodynamic package is matched by a chassis developed in Europe to provide a strong sense of security, using Honda's established and respected double wishbone front and 5-link double wishbone rear suspension designs, revised in a number of key areas. The chassis's effectiveness is helped by a bodyshell that possesses even higher levels of dynamic stiffness, delivering heightened responses to driver input and pin-sharp precision on the road. 2.4 litre models also have the added advantage of VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist), designed to help the driver maintain control during cornering, acceleration and sudden collision-avoidance manoeuvres. All models are equipped with ABS, EBD and brake assist as standard.
The new Accord is even more environmentally responsible than its predecessor, which introduced the world's first fully recyclable fascia. The latest model uses even less non-recyclable plastics material, lead usage is down to the bare minimum, while certain components on the car are themselves constructed from recycled plastics. In an illustration of the attention to detail applied to the design, numerous components are subtly reduced in weight - small savings in isolation, but together highly significant.
Built in Japan, the Accord saloon offered on sale in Europe will be similar to that on sale in Japan. The US market has a different Accord sedan built specifically in the US and tailored for the American market. Available at launch as a saloon only, the simplified line-up makes its public debut at the Paris Salon in September, with sales commencing in early 2003. It will then be joined by a new estate model and, later in the year, the Accord range becomes the first to be offered with Honda's all-new, in-house developed diesel engine. This eagerly awaited debut looks set to redefine current diesel benchmark criteria.
The new Accord saloon is pitched firmly at the quality sector of the D-segment which accounted for 298,000 out of a total of 951,000 saloons sold in the five largest European markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK) during 2001. Diesel power accounted for 61 per cent of the sector. Honda sees the Accord competing with contenders from manufacturers such as Alfa Romeo, Audi, Saab and Volvo.
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