This is the ultimate, most refined and technologically sophisticated Accord to date”, that’s the all-new, ninth-gen Accord Hybrid in Honda’s own words. And it isn’t at all claim by any means. The tech-laden Accord has the Toyota Camry Hybrid in its sights and considering the Camry’s popularity, Honda has burnt the mid-night oil to make sure it’s got the upper hand in almost every department. And for that, Honda has put in a lot of segment-first tech and features into this next-gen Accord Hybrid. So let’s begin with the most important aspect of this Accord, the hybrid tech.
Just like in the Camry, there are three key components here; a petrol engine, a generator motor and a drive motor.
But Honda has a different take on this whole hybrid business; the Accord gets a two-motor hybrid powertrain – Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive or Sport Hybrid in Honda speak- and that offers three drive modes: EV, Hybrid and Engine. Here’s how the system works – the petrol motor is a2.0-litrei-VTEC unit with 143bhp and 175Nm of torque that, in most driving conditions, provides power to the generator motor, which in turn feeds juice into the 1.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This electric power is then sent to the 182bhp, 315Nm propulsion motor that eventually drives the front axle.
And when these components come together, a class-leading 212bhp of power is sent to the front wheels via an electric CVT. Take a moment to let that sink in. As you may have realised by now, the petrol engine doesn’t power the wheels directly, hence there’s no need for a conventional CVT. Instead, there’s an E-CVT with two motors; one for generating power and the other for driving. Wondering how this system works in the real world? Rather well. Like most hybrids, the Accord too kicks off in pure electric mode, and as the batteries dry up or you pick up speed, the system switches to Hybrid.
The transition from EV to Hybrid is seamless and apart from a humming sound from the motor, it’s difficult to know what the system is doing. However, like its competitors, this one too isn’t going to last for long on battery mode alone – a kilometre or two at most. Driving the car for over 200km had us convinced that it’s best to leave the system in default Hybrid mode and let it decide what’s best as per driving needs. And for times when you feel the urge to pick up the pace, there are Boost and Sport modes too, that do spice things up.
Then, there’s also an Engine Drive mode, wherein the petrol motor powers the wheels (with some amount of electric assistance) once you’ve attained a cruising speed of 100kph. Now, if we were to whinge about something, it would be the whine from the petrol motor when you push it hard. Once you prod the throttle, the engine wakes up entirely, rushes to its red line and sits there while you have the pedal pressed. And it’s here that it sounds extremely loud and stressed.
The amusing bit is that even then, the engine isn’t driving the wheels directly, it’s still the propulsion motor doing the pulling duties and hence there’s a disconnect between the engine roar and performance. However, its overall performance is quite impressive for a car in this class. Also, unlike the older Accord, this one doesn’t float like a boat. It isn’t as softly sprung as before, neither does it feel as enormous. It’s shorter overall by a tiny margin and that’s helped agility immensely. It’s not outright sporty, but the ride is sorted on most occasions. There are times when around fast bends, the body tends to roll considerably but considering the bulk, it’s acceptable.
The Accord also scores high on seat comfort, overall space and cabin quality. The front seats are well bolstered and offer good support. And the place where most owners are going to spend all their time – the rear seat – is well designed too. The seat squab, the backrest angle, the firmness of the cushion – it’s near perfect. Even space for rear passengers is more than what you can ask for. Overall, it’s a good place to be in. Plus, the good-looking cabin is complemented by an even better looking exterior. Although the silhouette is that of the older Accord, it’s still quite attractive.
It’s been tastefully designed, has a solid stance and those stylish 18-inch alloy wheels add a lot of sportiness to the design. As expected, Honda has also packed the Accord Hybrid to the gill s with creature comforts and safety features. Now, all this tech and features have pushed the Accord Hybrid’s price up.
And owing to the fact that it’s a CBU, it doesn’t qualify for the FAME scheme benefit, further hurting its pricing. So, at 37 lakh, ex-Delhi, the Accord may not seem like a very attractive proposition. But, for what the hybrid system offers, its drive ability, ride and comfort, and features, the new Accord may have done enough to catch the fancy of Honda loyalists.