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Honda Accord


Audi A3

Summary

Honda Accord

SUVs are all the rage these days, with buyers abandoning the once-thriving mid-size sedan landscape for something higher riding and, arguably, more practical.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any options left for those wanting a traditional three-box sedan.

Toyota still offers its Camry, Hyundai is about to launch its new Sonata, the Mazda6 is still alive and kicking, and the sexy Peugeot 508 has hit the market.

Over in Honda’s corner though, the Accord – now in its 10th generation – continues to fly the flag for the Japanese brand, but does it do enough to justify continuing its low-volume sales in Australia?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeHybrid with Regular Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency4.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Audi A3

If it was the original BMW 3-Series that invented the compact luxury car market segment all those years ago, then it’s probably fair to claim it was Audi’s A3 franchise that gave rise to the luxury small-hatch category.

On that basis, any new Audi A3 is news but, in the face of the SUV onslaught (including its own stablemate the Q3) the new small Audi has its work cut out for it.

With this update, there’s refreshed styling, a new interior layout and, for the launch of the new cars, two body styles, a conventionally styled sedan and what Audi calls the Sportback; fundamentally a five-door hatchback but with the German brand’s own flair plastered all over it.

As well as new connectivity and safety tech, the big news is the availability of a mild-hybrid driveline as well as a second powertrain option with more performance from a more conventional layout.

Interestingly, it’s that (mild) hybrid version of the A3 that represents the entry-level variant of the A3. A sign of the times? Perhaps.

As well as the two powertrains, there are two distinct chassis layouts, starting with a front-drive set-up and extending to the option of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Honda Accord7.9/10

The Accord VTi-LX Hybrid might seem like an odd choice for those after a mid-size sedan, but Honda has done more than enough to justify its existence in its current stable.

Sure, the price is a bit high, but it comes fully loaded and has a cutting-edge powertrain to keep running costs down.

In a segment that is dominated by the Toyota Camry, Honda had to do something to stand apart, and pushing a little more upmarket with spec and refinement is definitely the right way to go.


Audi A37/10

Producing a car that takes the end result beyond appliance status is no given in a world car-park dominated by SUVs. But Audi has, over the last few decades, shown it is very good at doing just that and the latest incarnation of its A3 stalwart backs that up.

While it might take a bit of mental gymnastics to understand why the base model gets the hybrid driveline, or why the more expensive variant costs more to option with adaptive cruise-control, the fact remains these are driver’s cars from a company that understands that concept.

Yes, the A3 is a relatively expensive way to arrive at a compact hatch or sedan, but if you value the journey as much as the destination, it will all make sense.

While the technical aspects of the 35 TFSI are interesting, the extra power and all-weather grip of the AWD 40 TFSI seem to be worth the additional dollars to us. The A3 has always been a sporty alternative, meaning the sportiest version is the one for us.

CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.

Design

Honda Accord

Sedans might be as daggy as all get out right now, but we think the Accord actually looks pretty handsome (don’t @ me).

With its long bonnet and athletic profile, the Accord wears Honda’s current design language well, and thanks to the chrome touches on the outside, dare we say it even looks a little premium?

The chrome isn’t for everyone though, and we’d have liked to see darker accents like a ‘Shadow Chrome’ gunmetal grey colour that might age a little better than the ultra-reflective material.

In profile, the gently sloped roofline also adds to the aesthetic factor, while it's great to see Honda has opted for comfort in the 18-inch wheels rather than style, by going a few sizes bigger.

The rear end features unique wraparound tail-lights and a pinched derriere that slims things down a little, while the hidden exhaust outlet hints at the Accord’s green-car credentials.

Overall, the Accord is inoffensive, and certainly scores points for being much less common than the Toyota Camry and Mazda6, and a little less divisive in styling than the Skoda Octavia.

Step inside the Accord and it’s mostly a sea of soft-touch materials and plush leather.

The seats are especially notable because of their supportive design and wide base, ensuring driver fatigue doesn’t set in until you're several hours into a journey.

The 7.0-inch driver display is a little small, but the large head-up display is excellent at putting all the data you need front and centre.

As for the multimedia system, an 8.0-inch screen seems large, but because it is flanked by physical buttons and knobs, it actually looks a bit smaller than the units found in some rivals.

I did appreciate the old-school buttons, though, and the touchscreen is quick and snappy, even if the graphics and user interface are a little clunky and cheap looking.


Audi A36/10

It’s actually refreshing in 2022 to see a carmaker putting such an effort into something that isn’t an SUV.

That Audi has bothered with two distinct bodies and two equally distinct drivelines is also one for the books, really.

Technically, the mild-hybrid driveline as seen in larger Audis in recent years is probably the highlight of the new A3, and even though it doesn’t compare with a conventional petrol-electric hybrid, it demonstrates Audi’s attention to detail.

The same goes for the digital instruments which allows the driver to tailor the information displayed at any given time. Need a city map more than you need a tachometer at a particular point in you journey? That’s where this technology comes into its own.

Practicality

Honda Accord

Measuring 4904mm long, 2137mm wide, 1450mm tall and with a 2830mm wheelbase, the 2021 Accord is actually pretty close in size to the Holden VF Commodore.

And it flexes its bigger dimensions with a roomy and spacious cabin, regardless of where you are sitting.

Up front, the electronically adjustable seats offer plenty of variability to get into the perfect position, and the driver’s seat also has a memory setting if you are sharing the Accord with different people.

The door bins are a little on the smaller size and struggle to fit a full-sized water bottle, but the centre console boasts a deep cavity, with two cupholders also featured next to the shifter.

The wireless smartphone charger position , which is between the shifter and climate controls, does eat up an entire storage hole because once you put your phone down, you don’t want to put your keys or wallet on top of it and risk scratching your screen.

it would have made more sense for the wireless smartphone charger to be placed under the armrest, like it is in BMWs, to retain another storage option.

In the rear, space is excellent for occupants of all shapes and sizes, affording plenty of head, shoulder and leg room.

The middle seat can be a little squeezy, but the soft-touch leather and seat shape offer plenty of support and would be supremely comfortable over long journeys.

In the back, there are two air vents, two charging ports and a fold-down centre armrest with two cupholders.

Opening the boot reveals a cavity that will accommodate 570 litres of volume, but the back seats can be folded down to stow longer objects.

The rear seats are one piece, rather than split fold, meaning you’ll have to choose between having rear passengers or taking that trip to Ikea.

There is a lockable ski tunnel through the middle, though, which means long and narrow items can be carried without folding down the rear seats.

Two bag hooks are found in the boot, which helps keep your groceries in the bag and not all over the boot floor.


Audi A36/10

Although it’s a compact car externally, clever packaging means there’s ample space inside. Even a tall-ish rear-seat passenger can sit behind a tall-ish driver, and the sculpted rear seat-backs help make that possible.

The only complaint would be that the dark headlining material makes the interior a bit of a cave at times.

Paying more for the 40 TFSI gets you extra cargo nets on the front seat backrests and luggage area, 12-volt sockets in the rear seat and boot. Both versions get floor mats and a centre arm-rest front and rear.

 

The rear seat in either is split 40/20/40 for a range of possibilities, with the Sportback offering 325 litres (VDA) for the Sportback quattro models, and 380L (VDA) for the 2WD models and its boot capacity is increased to 1145L (VDA) with the rear seat folded flat. The luggage space in the sedan is 390L (VDA) for the quattro AWD version, and a more capacious 425L (VDA) for the FWD model.

 

Price and features

Honda Accord

The Honda Accord VTi-LX Hybrid we’ve tested wears a pricetag of $55,800 before on-road costs, but those that can do without the electric assistance can score one for just $52,800.

A $50,000-plus asking price for a Honda sedan might seem steep, but the VTi-LX grade comes with all the fruit you’d expect out of a car in this price range.

As standard, the Accord comes with an 8.0-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support, satellite navigation and digital radio, outputting to an excellent 10-speaker sound system.

Seriously, this isn’t something we usually bring up in reviews but the Accord’s sound system is truly great, offering clear and crisp audio whether listening to the radio or streaming music via Bluetooth.

Other key specification appointments include automatic LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, auto-folding side mirrors, woodgrain interior dashboard, electronic sunroof, black leather upholstery, electronically adjustable front seats, heated front seats, wireless smartphone charger, active noise cancellation, 7.0-inch driver display, 6.0-inch colour head-up display, keyless entry, push-button start, and remote engine start.

It’s a long and exhaustive list of equipment, but what about the options?

Well, there aren’t any.

The petrol model comes with a choice of four colours (two metallic and two pearlescent), while the Hybrid option adds ‘Passion Red’, but each hue comes at no extra cost.

Likewise, the standard 18-inch wheels are the only ones available across the Accord range, with no option to black them out or go an inch or two up in size.

Sure, those that want a frugal petrol-electric hybrid powertrain at a cheaper price can opt for the Camry Hybrid (priced from $33,490-$46,990), but the fit and finish of the Accord VTi-LX does feel a step above what Toyota has to offer.

It's worth pointing out that the top-spec Camry Hybrid features a powered tailgate and cooled front seats, which the Accord misses out on, while the former also boasts a larger 9.0-inch multimedia screen.


Audi A37/10

These are not bargain basement cars, and with a kick-off price of $46,900 for the A3 35 TFSI Sportback (the hatch version) and $49,400 for the sedan in the same specification, that much is obvious.

The fact is, both the new A3 variants represent a fair mark-up on the previous model. But if you look at the post-Covid car market in a macro sense, you can see the same trend across a lot of brands and a lot of previously entry-level models.

Ante up to the 40 TFSI, and the news is no different with an asking price of $53,500 (Sportback) and $56,000 (sedan).

If the price sounds steep on a per-kilo basis, you need to remember this is an Audi we’re talking about and that price premium is part and parcel of a prestige badge. Don’t like it? Go and buy a VW Golf. That’d be Audi’s advice, anyway.

To justify that viewpoint, the A3 is loaded with some impressive standard kit. The 35 TFSI starts things off with Audi’s vaunted 'Virtual Cockpit', wireless phone charging, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, remote central locking, paddle shifters, park-assist, sat-nav, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, LED headlights, a multi-function steering wheel, automatic lights and wipers, digital radio, cruise-control and dual-zone climate control.

The 40 TFSI adds a range of aluminium trim pieces and garnishes, Audi’s 'Drive Select' system which allows the driver to choose the characteristic of the dampers, steering response, exhaust sound, throttle response and transmission shift points.

The 40 TFSI also adds sportier front seats, a rear spoiler, body kit, extra courtesy lights around the car and details such as a 12-volt socket in the luggage area.

Options on the base model include a 'Comfort Pack' consisting of adaptive cruise-control, electric front seats, heated front seats, auto dimming headlights, heated and folding mirrors, four-way electric lumbar control and 'Adaptive Drive Assist', including 'Emergency Assist.'

That will set you back $2600, while the 40 TFSI can be enhanced with Audi’s 'Premium Package' which adds those same items as well as aluminium-look trim pieces, a better sound system, head-up instrument display and a memory function for the driver’s seat. That adds $4500 to either the 40 TFSI Sportback or sedan.

Engine & trans

Honda Accord

Powering the Accord VTi-LX Hybrid is a 2.0-litre petrol engine and dual-electric motor combo, for a total output of 158kW/315Nm.

Drive is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Compared with the Camry Hybrid, the Accord is down 2kW in power, but out in the real world it is very hard to tell the difference in outputs.

Being a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, there is no need to plug in the Accord Hybrid as the petrol engine works to charge the battery.


Audi A37/10

While both versions of the A3 use a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (no manual gearbox will be offered) there’s not a lot of commonality beyond that.

So let’s start with the 35 TFSI’s mild-hybrid running gear. To begin with, mild-hybrid in this sense refers to a starter motor/alternator unit that is linked to a 48-volt battery (the car also has a conventional 12-volt electrical system).

When coasting, the engine can shut off and the starter switches to alternator mode and harvests the otherwise lost energy to charge the 48-volt battery. This 48-volt system also powers the car’s functions when the engine is switched off.

When the car needs to restart (when the traffic-light goes green) the starter kicks in, using that harvested voltage. There’s also a regenerative braking function, saving the car’s actual brakes for more severe stops.

Unlike a 'normal' hybrid system, there’s no electric motor to help drive the car, but Audi claims a potential fuel saving of 0.4 litres per 100km from the set-up. Any benefit will be most noticeable in urban running where the car is speeding up and slowing down regularly.

The rest of the 35 TFSI is technically interesting, too, with the 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine featuring cylinder-on-demand where it can shut down individual cylinders during cruise conditions to save fuel.

When firing on all four, however, the engine is good for 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque, figures which have become almost an industry standard in this sized vehicle.

The 40 TFSI, meanwhile, ditches the hybrid gear for a conventional 2.0-litre powerplant with a turbocharger and 140kW of power. Torque is a handy 320Nm and is developed over a wide range of engine speeds (anywhere from 1500 to 4100rpm).

The other big difference is in the driveline. The 35 TFSI is a front-wheel drive platform while the 40 TFSI uses Audi’s Quattro AWD as it applies to Audis with an east-west engine layout.

That means the car behaves as a front-drive vehicle until the electronics decides more power should be sent to the rear wheels. At that point, anything up to 99 per cent of the available torque can be transferred rearwards via an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch housed at the rear of the car, just in front of the rear axle.

Fuel consumption

Honda Accord

One key to the Accord VTi-LX Hybrid’s appeal is its ultra-frugal fuel consumption figure of just 4.3 litres per 100km, and low 98 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometre.

In our week with the car, we managed an average of 6.1L/100km in a mix of varying drive modes, including ‘Sport’.

No doubt if we were hypermiling that figure would be much closer to the official numbers, but our time with the Accord consisted of various short inner-city trips (where the hybrid powertrain excels) and a blast down some country roads (where the hybrid powertrain does not excel).

Regardless, the fuel economy figure is still a respectable one for a hybrid, especially one of this size and with this much practicality.

The Accord VTi-LX Hybrid is both more fuel efficient and less pollutant than the top-spec Toyota Camry Hybrid SL, which returns 4.5L/100km and 103g/km respectively.

It's also worth nothing that it’s 48-litre fuel tank will be enough to get around 1000km of driving range before requiring filling with 91Ron petrol.


Audi A37/10

With all its cylinder shut-off, hybrid tricks and small capacity, the 1.5-litre engine boasts a 5.0 litres per 100km combined cycle fuel economy figure.

Combined with its 50-litre tank, that’s a potential for 1000km between service-station visits. It’s also commendably close to the numbers you’d expect from a similarly sized vehicle with a turbo-diesel engine.

The more conventional 2.0-litre A3 variant, meanwhile, boasts a still-credible 6.7 litres per 100km for the same test. To counter its greater thirst, Audi has fitted a slightly bigger, 55-litre fuel tank.

The headline act, of course, is the base-model’s highway figure which, thanks to the small capacity engine and its reduced pumping losses at small throttle-openings, can get right down into the low-fives (5.0 litres per 100km) in the real world at real highway speeds.

With a tail-wind, you might even see a number starting with four. This is why you don’t need a diesel engine any longer.

Expect the 40 TFSI to use roughly a litre more across every 100km travelled. And in either case, you are stuck with paying for 95-RON premium unleaded.

Driving

Honda Accord

While the Accord was once a nameplate that delivered a dynamic and engaging driving experience (remember the Accord Euro with its wonderful K24 engine?), it seems Honda’s mid-size sedan has matured somewhat in its older age.

Its petrol-electric hybrid powertrain is designed for frugality, not fun, so being aware of this before purchasing an Accord is vital, particularly if you're an enthusiastic driver.

In this regard, the Accord VTi-LX Hybrid is a safe and predictable car, never surprising with understeer or tyre squeal, but also delivering a comfortable and cosseting experience.

You kind of know what you are getting out of the box, which is certainly no bad thing for anyone after a quiet and calm driving life.

Tipping the Accord into a corner, the steering wheel feels light, progressive and unsurprising, but offers plenty of feedback for what the front-drive sedan is doing.

The suspension also feels much more geared towards comfort than sportiness, with bumps and road imperfections soaked up with ease.

The quietude of the cabin is what probably stands out the most when behind the wheel of the Accord VTi-LX Hybrid, thanks to the electrified powertrain and clever active noise cancellation.

When running in EV mode (available, depending on conditions, at the push of a button), the Accord is a serenely quiet and comfortable place to be, even rivalling premium marques like the Lexus IS200, let alone the mainstream Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Three driving modes are on offer – Eco, Normal and Sport – and with the electric motor assist, even in the Eco setting, the Accord still offers decent punch off the line.

Sport mode turns things up a little, but the CVT tends to feel a little elastic with the throttle pedal pinned.

Our recommendation is to drive the Accord in Eco mode and reap the benefits of a low fuel-economy, figure rather than trying to relive the glory days of Honda’s high-revving, VTEC-laden sports sedans.


Audi A38/10

Let’s start with the less powerful 35 TFSI, if only because - even though we know better in 2022 - there’s a temptation to think a 1.5-litre engine will be underdone. The reality, however, is that you’re not going to drive this car and judge it as anything other than very resolved.

While it’s true the peak power of 110kW isn’t startling, it’s the way it’s delivered (along with the 250Nm of torque) that sets the mood here.

Like many late-model Audis, this one has an engine with a fizzy, zingy feel that makes you want to rev it just to hear and feel it. And when you do, it pays off with plenty of flexibility and a sophisticated, refined feel.

Whether the mild hybrid driveline is adding anything to the formula is debatable, because the technology is so seamless you won’t pick what it’s doing other than the engine stop-start function, which is one of the better ones we’ve sampled.

Move from the 35 into the 40 TFSI and you immediately notice the extra power and torque on tap. And although it’s still not a hot-hatch by modern standards, there’s always enough urge to make the 40 TFSI a convincing driver’s car.

Again, the power delivery is the key to it all, making more of what the engine has to offer by actively encouraging you to use it. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is your friend here.

The extra driveline functionality of the 40 (namely the AWD system) actually means less than you might imagine in day-to-day life. We didn’t get to drive the car in the wet, but it’s fair to say that those conditions (or a loose, gravel road) are really the only ones likely to make a difference to the way the basic platform feels.

That’s for two reasons; the first being the all-wheel-drive is fundamentally on demand anyway and, secondly, the basic platform is so composed and balanced in the first place, that the Quattro system will spend a lot of its time hiding in the background.

The 40 TFSI also get the selectable drive modes which break with tradition by actually making a difference to the way the car feels.

But the reality is that if you took the best bits of every other setting (Comfort, Dynamic and Efficiency) and loaded them into the Individual button, you’d probably wind up with something very close to what the non-adjustable 35 TFSI offers in the first place.

You have to admire the way Audi has made a front-drive car in the A3 steer, handle and talk to the driver in such a clear, precise way.

Yes, the 40’s selectable modes add another layer to that, but only if you can be bothered. Even more than that, the A3 in either form feels like its ultra-stable and safe, while the levels of feel and feedback give the impression they were decided upon by people who enjoy driving.

Safety

Honda Accord

The 10th-generation Honda Accord has not been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP and, as such, does not have an official safety rating.

However, all Accords come with Honda’s Sensing suite of advanced driver-assistance systems, which include forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.

The Accord also boasts automatic headlights and wipers, active cornering headlights, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view monitor, hill-start assist, tyre-pressure monitoring, and front and rear parking sensors.

The 10th-gen Accord wears a maximum five-star crash safety rating in North America (with full marks for frontal crash, side crash and rollover protection), where it was tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Despite sharing many safety features, the US and Australian Accords differ in production location, with ours coming from Thailand.


Audi A38/10

Possibly the headline (no pun intended) act here is the inclusion of a centre-front airbag. This is something we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future, particularly in compact cars, where the proximity of the front-seat passengers can lead to head clashes in a side-impact crash.

Beyond that, the Audi has six airbags including side-curtain airbags.

In terms of driver aids, the A3 sets a high bar for its competitors, and with autonomous emergency braking including pedestrian and cyclist recognition, rear-cross-traffic alert, lane-departure assist and a rear-view camera, most bases are covered.

The major omissions are adaptive cruise-control, but that’s available in the 35 TFSI as part of the $2600 Comfort Package, and in the 40 TFSI as part of the $4500 Premium Package.

Yes, the Premium Package also includes heated, memory front seats, a head-up display, improved stereo and the multi-coloured ambient interior lighting (and more) but it does seem strange that it costs more to option up to adaptive cruise in the 40 TFSI than in the base-model.

The A3 scored the full five stars in ANCAP crash testing in 2020.

Ownership

Honda Accord

Like all new Hondas, the Accord comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty plus six years of anti-corrosion assurance.

After the first free 1000km service, the scheduled maintenance intervals for the Accord VTi-LX Hybrid are every 10,000km/12 months, whichever occurs first.

According to Honda’s tailored service price guide, the first five years/50,000km of ownership will total $1816 in maintenance costs, which averages out to be about $363 per year.

While the 10,000km service intervals are a little short compared with the Camry’s 15,000km period, the Accord is actually quite cheap to get serviced.

Each of the Honda’s services for the first 100,000km costs only $312, with costs going up depending on additional service items.

However, the Toyota Camry Hybrid still edges ahead with its longer intervals and $220 per service costs for the first five years, although the numbers increase dramatically after that.

The cheap service pricing combined with the excellent fuel economy of the hybrid engine mean the Honda Accord VTi-LX Hybrid keeps running costs down.


Audi A37/10

Audi recently improved its factory warranty from three years to five years and unlimited kilometres. Any new Audi (including this one) sold after January 1 this year is the beneficiary of that change.

Audi specifies service intervals of 15,000km or 13 months.

There’s also the option of a fixed-price servicing program for the first five years of A3 ownership, and that will cost you $2250, for an annual average of $450.