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Honda Accord 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
6
Peter Barnwell road test and reviews the Honda Accord Sport Hybrid with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Electric motors chime in with a trick transmission but on the flagship's price, Honda is Earth Dreaming.

With the overpriced Legend now a discontinued myth, Honda has a new flagship.

The Accord Sport Hybrid — a medium-sized, front-drive, four-door imported from Thailand — sells for a steep $58,990 plus on-roads.

That makes it a rival for Lexus's IS300h hybrid rear-drive compact prestige sedan — and nothing else we can identify.

Toyota's locally built Camry Hybrid starts at $35,490 and tops out at $41,490, while the most expensive conventional Accord you can buy is the V6L at $51,990.

At the price, the top-line Accord might struggle to sell in a market where demand for hybrids is already on the wane. Despite the arrival of a host of new models in recent years, sales of hybrid cars to private buyers are down by more than a third this year, while sales to fleets are static.

The arrival of super-efficient small turbo petrol engines and diesels — as well as highly efficient conventional engines from makers such as Mazda — means that buyers can save fuel without the complexity and extra cost of a hybrid.

There's little in the look of the Honda that says this is a cutting-edge piece of technology. It looks pretty old school inside and out but that would appeal to the car's older, predominantly male buyer profile.

It is a technology-rich car, however, with Honda's new-generation hybrid drive called Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive, iMMD for short.

Honda had the first hybrid on sale in Australia with the oddball Insight but subsequently lost ground with a series of "mild" hybrids, which unlike their Toyota rivals, couldn't take off in electric-only mode and had modest electric motor outputs. As a result, they didn't produce the standout fuel efficiency of their rivals.

But the new "Earth Dreams" powertrain is able to switch between electric, hybrid and petrol drive modes.

It combines a newly developed 2.0-litre petrol engine dedicated to hybrid vehicles, a continuously variable transmission with two built-in electric motors, a lockup clutch and high-efficiency lithium-ion battery. Power is 147kW, compared with the Camry's 151kW.

The Honda's two motors act in concert and chime into action as required, drawing power from the rear-mounted battery pack.

Honda claims this contributes to 4.6L/100km in combined driving, a figure that undercuts the similarly sized Camry's 5.1L/100km. We couldn't get anywhere near that figure on the launch drive, averaging about 6.0L/100km around town and 8.0L/100km on back roads.

Honda crams the Hybrid with generous driver-assist technology

Regenerative braking harvests electrical energy for the battery, aided by a clever new electrical brake setup.

The Hybrid Accord weighs 70kg more than the conventional 2.4-litre four-cylinder Accord.

Honda crams the Hybrid with generous driver-assist technology such as blind-spot monitoring, multi-view rear camera with dynamic guide lines, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, collision mitigation braking and so-called "Eco coaching" dash readouts.

It also gains front and rear parking sensors, satnav, 18-inch alloys, hill-start assist, active cornering lights, auto wipers, keyless start, leather upholstery and Bluetooth phone and audio. A big tick for equipment.

On the road

The badge says Accord Sport Hybrid but the Honda is most definitely not sporty. To a point, it handles well for what is essentially a luxury compact sedan. But sporty? That would be a no.

The car is super-quiet on the move — as good as a Lexus — and has plenty of performance from the engine, accompanied by the usual slurring you get with a CVT. There are no paddle-shifters for those wanting to change gears on their own, though.

They might sell a few — but not many at the price

On the go, it accelerates well, while cruising is relaxed and smooth.

But the suspension jiggles too much over small bumps and the steering feels too light. The brakes have good pedal feel and the body keeps pretty tight over rough roads.

We found the multi-adjustable driving position comfortable and controls easy to find and operate.

Verdict

Honda has taken a rather bolshie marketing path with its hybrids by appointing only one dealer per capital city. We suspect these dealers signed on for the coming, sexy NSX sports car and not this one. They might sell a few — but not many at the price.

Pricing guides

$21,985
Based on 26 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$15,990
Highest Price
$29,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Sport Hybrid 2.0L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $19,000 – 26,400 2015 Honda Accord 2015 Sport Hybrid Pricing and Specs
V6-L 3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,990 – 29,990 2015 Honda Accord 2015 V6-L Pricing and Specs
VTi 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $10,800 – 15,840 2015 Honda Accord 2015 VTi Pricing and Specs
VTi-L 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $17,990 – 26,990 2015 Honda Accord 2015 VTi-L Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6