Honda Accord to make premium comeback

Honda Accord to make premium comeback

HONDA Australia has its sights set on bringing the 10th generation Accord to market, however the Japanese manufacturer’s local arm is planning on recasting the new mid-sizer as a luxurious, technology-laden flagship to help it side-step declining demand for mainstream midsize sedans.

The new Accord, which debuted mid-July in US-market form, is fresh from the ground up and promises, in Honda’s own words, to be “more stylish, sporty and premium” than the model it replaces. Perhaps a tacit admission that the current Accord lacks appeal in those three areas?

To be fair to the Accord, the entire medium passenger car segment has an image problem at the moment. Besides the Camry, which sells strongly thanks to fleets and the badge’s strong reputation, sales of mainstream mid-sizers has dropped 5.3 percent in year-to-date figures. The Ford Mondeo and Subaru Levorg are the only non-Toyota’s to have grown their volume, while current Accord sales have plummeted to a massive deficit of 58 percent.

Hence Honda Australia’s plan to reinvent the Accord when the tenth-generation car arrives: the mainstream medium market appears to be on its knees.

“We still haven’t confirmed we’re getting the new model,” Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said to Wheels.

“Our absolute desire is to have the new model but we need all the numbers to stack up. The segment is still very challenging,” Collins admitted.

“The segment continues to decline, so what we’re trying to do is make it the flagship for our range and for us to be able to price it appropriately and spec it appropriately.

“We’ll need to work through that and once we do we’ll make the announcement regarding the new model. I would expect in the couple of months we’ll be able to confirm the next Accord.”

And if the Accord does get the green light for Australia, don’t expect the range to look much like the existing car’s three-variant family, which opens with the $32,990 Accord VTi.

“I don’t want to speculate on the price,” he said, “but it definitely won’t be a $30,000 car.”

“It would be a well-specced flagship-type car. Whether it’s one grade or two grades, we’re still working through that.”

With a starting price in the $40k region, the tenth-gen Accord would follow a similar path to the Kia Stinger, which will be positioned as a mainstream-premium sedan designed to bridge the gap between regular mid-sizers and those from luxury marques like BMW and Audi. Volkswagen’s Arteon will go a step further, with only a single high-featured grade to be available in Australia and a price somewhere between $60k and $70k.

For the Accord, an upmarket move will be matched by a reduction in sales expectations. With the price of entry set to surge into semi-premium territory, Collins says sales of 50 cars or more per month would be considered acceptable – a number that’s still around 50 percent higher than what the nameplate is presently selling.

The new Accord will be available in the USA with a 143kW 1.5-litre turbo petrol borrowed from the Honda CR-V, or a 188kW version of the Civic Type R’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol (above), with the former coming with either a 6-speed manual or CVT auto and the latter scoring a 10-speed automatic as well as a six-speed manual in Sport grades.

A petrol-electric hybrid will also be sold in the ‘States, with a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre up front and two electric drive motors.

The new Accord measures slightly shorter than the current car with an overall length of 4879mm, but wheelbase grows from 2775mm to 2829mm to maximise passenger space – with most of the gains going toward increasing back seat legroom. Weighing less than its predecessor and boasting shorter overhangs, a 10mm lower centre of gravity and adaptive dampers, the 2018 Accord is claimed to have more athletic handling and improved ride quality.

As decision time approaches, expect to hear more about Honda’s plans for an Accord revival in September.

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