First Look: 2018 Honda Accord
2018 Honda Accord
Jun 16th, 2017
All-new sedan and coupe aims for the Germans with more power and style
by GRAEME FLETCHER |
TOCHIGI, Japan – Another of the highlight of the Tech session at Honda’s Tochgi proving ground was the opportunity to get the very first drive in the next-generation 2018 Honda Accord — it will be offered in both coupe and sedan.
The Accord is a new-from-the-road-up revamp that changes every facet. It will also be the first of many future products to bear Honda’s new design language. While the tester was completely wrapped in camouflage (with Accord in the design!), it was not difficult to see the new look is focused and very coupe-like for a sedan.
Up front it has sharp LEDs, while the side silhouette, long wheelbase and arch-filling P235/40R19 tires add to its presence. At the back, the truncated nature of the decklid almost hinted at a hatch — it’s not, but it does bear more than a passing resemblance to Audi’s A5 Sportback from some angles. It promises to be a good-looking sedan when revealed later this year.
Beneath the sheet metal sits Honda’s Global platform. It is scalable, so it underpins everything from the Civic and CR-V to the new Odyssey and now Accord. The format can be made wider and longer, with the front and rear architectures being scalable as well.
The focus of the drive was to test the new top-level powertrain. The base Accord will run a 1.5L turbocharged four married to either a six-speed manual or Honda’s continuously variable transmission (CVT). There will also be a hybrid based around a 2.0L naturally-aspirated engine.
The boss engine, which replaces the current V6, is based on the same 2.0L turbocharged four that makes the Type R such a raucous ride. In this case it has been retuned to suit a larger family-oriented sedan. No spec numbers were given, but it will have more horsepower than the outgoing V6 (278 hp) and less than the Type R (306 hp) — the smart money says around 295 hp. The new engine drives an equally new Honda-designed-and-built 10-speed manumatic transmission that comes complete with paddle shifters. It replaces the six-speed automatic in the outgoing car. As with the base engine, there will be a manual (could this spell a Type R Accord Coupe?)
The new box is slick and well sorted, resisting the urge to hunt for the right gear when driven at city speeds or when an incline is encountered. There are different modes — Eco, Normal and Sport. In Eco the upshifts come fast and early to promote fuel efficiency. Normal balances the shift strategy, while Sport stretches them out to delve into the meaty part of the power plateau. On the drive, I got into 10th gear on the long back straight of the track when in Comfort. Sport locks out some of the gears to emphasis better performance — at 200 km/h the highest gear I could access was seventh.
The new powertrain pairing brings surprising performance. There was the merest hint of lag off the line (the lower gear ratios do a good job of masking it) and a strong mid-range — hammering the gas pedal at 120 km/h saw it drop a couple of cogs and pull to speed quickly.
The ride is equally well balanced. It is smooth at speed, but hunkers down and limits body roll through corners. The steering follows this lead. It has good feedback, but, as with many family sedans, it felt a little light at speed.
Final specs and pricing will be revealed closer to the release in late fall, although Honda Sensing will be part of the package. Asked which car was the benchmark Honda aimed for, the engineer said “ Mercedes-Benz C- and E-Class. Lofty competition indeed!