Three months after its debut in Thailand, reviews of the Thai specification all-new tenth generation Accord are starting to filter through. Comments from the Thai media are more relevant to us than American ones, simply because their cars are closer in specifications to what we will most likely get, plus driving conditions and expectations are similar to ours.
To recap, the Thailand market Honda Accord comes in three variants, only one of which is relevant to us. The base model is a 1.5-litre turbocharged EL variant, followed by two 2.0-litre hybrid variants – Hybrid and Hybrid Tech. All are locally assembled in Thailand and prices of the hybrid variants are kept low by tax incentives from the Thai government.
Prices start from THB 1.475 million for the Turbo EL, while the hybrids range from THB 1.639 million – 1.799 million. Ignoring any differences in taxes between Thailand and Malaysia, this translates to RM 198,000 to RM 242,000.
Yes, Thailand’s Honda Accord now costs an equivalent of over RM 240,000 here. Didn’t Malaysians use to say that the Thais get cheaper cars than us? You can blame our falling Ringgit for that.
Malaysia is unlikely to receive the hybrid variant as our National Automotive Policy is still yet to be announced and the current incentives for locally-assembled hybrids will most likely be discontinued by the end of this year.
The test cars reviewed by the Thai media are the Turbo EL variant, the model that we will most likely get. Although it uses the same engine and transmission as the Civic (and CR-V), power output has been increased from the Civic's 173 PS to 190 PS, peaking at the same 5,500 rpm. Torque has also been increased from 220 Nm to 243 Nm, and peak torque now arrives 200 rpm earlier, from 1,500 to 5,500 rpm. The figures are very close to the turbocharged CR-V, which makes 193 PS, with identical torque.
Drive is transferred to the front wheels via a CVT-type automatic transmission.
Being the base model, the Turbo EL misses out on Honda Sensing (which will most probably be retained for Malaysia, considering it’s offered in the outgoing model). It also makes do with an 8-speaker audio system instead of the hybrid’s 10, and deletes the sunroof.
Compared to the previous model, the all-new Accord is slightly shorter (41 mm shorter, 4,894 mm), but it is now wider (12 mm wider, 1,862 mm) and has a longer wheelbase (55 mm longer, 2,830 mm).
The Accord’s archrival is of course the Toyota Camry.
As far as handling is concerned, the verdict is pretty similar to our own experience – the Camry outhandles any of its peers.
Thailand’s Bangkok Post noted that the all-new Accord is significantly more refined and more comfortable than before. Stability at high speeds is very good.
However when it comes to the twisty bits, it’s not as agile as the Camry. While it’s physically shorter than before, the Accord still drives like a big car. In other words, it’s not very agile. The Camry on the other hand, is nimble and drives like a car that’s smaller than it actually is.
However, Bangkok Post noted that the typical Thai driver will prefer the Accord’s ‘big car’ feel, explaining they feel safer in a car with the Accord’s comfort-oriented but tank-like character. Keen drivers however, will of course prefer the Camry’s agility.
Where the Accord trumps over the Camry is its powertrain. The Bangkok Post noted that while the Camry’s naturally aspirated 2.5-litre is competitively powerful and offers very good real-world fuel economy, it lacks the low-end punch of the Accord’s turbocharged engine.
They loved the Accord’s engine’s superior tractability across all driving conditions. The CVT has manually selectable ratios but the transmission is so responsive that there is little need for it. In other words, paddle shifters are not necessary.
Inside, the all-new Accord’s cabin is very roomy. Controls and materials are aesthetically pleasing but the touch and feel didn’t impress Thai reviewers.
The seats are well-shaped but ultimately didn’t feel as cushy as the Camry’s.
However the Accord fights back with its superior ergonomics. The instrument panel, infotainment, switches and other controls are logically laid out although they did note that the gear lever was unusually tall.
Another less appreciated aspect of the all-new Accord was the front-end design. The large chrome grille didn’t endear the Thai reviewers very well.
The all-new Accord is quite a long way away from Malaysian market launch. Honda Malaysia has ruled out launching the car within this year, but that’s not unexpected because our Accord needs to be locally assembled to escape punitive excise duties and setting up local assembly of a new model takes time.
However looking at the current situation of our Ringgit, Honda Malaysia is in no hurry to replace the current Accord. The outgoing Accord is very competitively priced, something which the far more sophisticated but also more expensive all-new model will struggle to replicate. It will face the same problem as Toyota did with its all-new Camry.
Despite its age, the outgoing Accord is decently equipped, offers loads of space and comfort. Prices start from RM147,512 for the base 2.0VTi-L, while the 2.4-litre VTi-L Advance comes with Honda Sensing driving aids.