Some of you may be sensing dejavu reading this article, well thats probably because we have reviewed the Accord before. Remember the trip to Kuantan we did courtesy of Honda Malaysia? Well, we only got to drive the 2.0 then and we weren’t happy with it at all, our views remain the same today, but the 2.4, now this is something else.
A few weeks after Kuantan, Honda Malaysia gave us the chance to live with the newly launched Accord for the whole of four days, it was fun actually because we were among the earliest in the country to get our hands on the Accord, so where ever we drove, people stared and gave us a thumbs up, it was as if we were cruising around in a exclusive European marque instead of a Japanese segment filler designed to satisfy the middle class masses or so it seems, before you get in.
The 2.4 is world’s apart from the regular 2.0, right from the moment you step inside to the moment you turn the key and drive off the difference between it and the 2.0 is vast and very apparent. The first thing you’ll notice is that the interior of the 2.4 is adorned in leather and looks and feels inviting, it is actually a rather nice place to be in rather than the textile ridden, airport taxi interior of the 2.0. I remember being caught in a dilema one afternoon while stuck in the regular Malaysian afternoon monsoon, I had to come up with some other car cabin I’d rather be in when stuck in the same situation, within the same price range and segment of course. Well I concluded that even the mighty Camry doesn’t come close, the interior of the Accord is huge, big enough for a Yoga session for four people, and not only that it’s comfortable, relaxing and plush. So I gave up, the Accord’s interior should be the precedent for any self loving Japanese car maker (bar Lexus, it never really mattered here till recently anyway).
I wriggled myself out of the jam and found some clear roads to take me to my destination, which was nowhere because I was driving around just for the fun of it, in the rain, on purpose, going nowhere, almost sounds like the lyrics to a Grammy winner but anyway. While I was in the middle of no where going no where, I kept taking mental notes of the interior and one particular thing caught my attention, for 170,000 Ringgit I am not wrong to expect near perfection, silence, comfort, luxury, the works but because it’s not Bentley, something just doesn’t add up.
The Accord is not completely silent, it’s not loud like the interior of a Proton is, it’s well insulated, but somehow the sound of the tyres humming creeps in. There is hardly any wind noise but the hum becomes annoyingly apparent after 100km/h, sure you get used to it but it shouldn’t be there in the first place. At over 100km/h on the NKVE south bound, with after hour traffic and dangerously close to overworked truck drivers, the tyres are the last thing I want to be worried about, but I wasn’t. I knew the tyres were fine and this was just some ‘feature’ of the car that will be fixed in the facelift model. Besides, the ride and handling quality of the Accord is enough to get you all cozy in the ultra comfortable pilots seat, and its true, you do get used to the tyre hum till you’re completely oblivious to it, hello Bentley.
There comes a point on the NKVE highway where traffic disperses presenting more opportunities for a journalist to test out a newly launched highway cruiser, within limits of course. The opportunity permits a shift of mood for the Accord’s transmission so I shift from D to S. What does S stand for? It is whatever you want it to be really, Super, Schumacher, Stingy, Scary, whatever, but for the context of this article, lets stick to Sports. At 110km/h, the revs hover slight above 2,00rpm, but when in S mode, they shoot up to the further regions of 4,000rpm, this basically means that the Accord is smack bang in the middle of its power range when in S at 100km/h and is more than willing to pull you all the way to the end which is predictably at 220km/h. Quite handy on trunk roads, but when coupled with paddle shift transmission the S might as well be Super (we reserve Schumacher for the worthy).
The paddle shift system is not the same as the system in a Ferrari or even VWs DSG system, it is designed to cope with everyday driving situations when spirited driving makes a calling but the system should be left alone when in D. It’s simply unresponsive, has a mind of its own and basically doesn’t care that you have just summoned up another cog but in S, it is the slave of a gearbox you would expect it to be; shifting whenever you want it to unless its over revving. Shifts are not F1 fast but smoothness is its character, its not rough and abrupt when shifiting, instead its slow, focused and accurate, something like a DIY manual except much smoother.
If you haven’t already noticed, the Accord is a big car, and the interior does nothing to conceal that fact. Maneuvering through KL’s traffic jams and tiny roads is no easy task, especially when you’re in a test car but get on a highway or come up with some reason to floor the pedal and the Accord summons an entirely different character. At speeds it is tidy and alert but it also can be all composed and relaxed when the driver feels like it. The steering is light and does well to conceal the bulk of the car and just adds up to the ease of use of the entire package that is the Accord. Sadly, the steering is not speed sensitive and doesn’t beef up in your hands when speed is increased but it suits the car just fine, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
On the way home, with the radio off and just that hum that breaks the silence I thought about why I would want a 2008 Honda Accord. Well firstly I would have to be earning well to be able to afford 170,000 Ringgit of metal, secondly, I would have to be pretty sick of all the German offerings that are twice as expensive to buy and maintain but have the same usability and functions. Thirdly, I would have to love ferrying people around or just have a large family as this car is definitely a dedicated people mover. Fourthly, I would have to like my cars to come with some performance to go with the luxury and convenience. Fifth, a car made for such a purpose has to be easy to drive as chances are, it’ll be the missus that gets behind the wheel the most but easy is its middle name so no problem there. Well I definitely do not need a Honda Accord but I definitely wish I had one, its the perfect companion for storm ridden afternoons, traffic jams, and silent cruises. Can’t wait for the 3.5.