Honda Malaysia has a fondness to hand out “festive cars” and this time it was the Accord on the checklist for Chinese New Year. Oh, when was that? February, yes.
We rarely get test cars on festive seasons.
But when we do, it’s often to take it out of city limits even if it means jostling for road space with holiday crowds streaming out.
For some of us, who choose to stay back in the Klang Valley, it’s a wonderful chance to motor around sparsely trafficked roads for the first few days.
We chose to get out of KL for a change of scenery. It wasn’t haze season at the time, so that made the drive all the more pleasant – and healthier.
Port Dickson is a convenient weekend getaway if you want to stay overnight, but a day trip is always the other option.
Not wanting to rush it as it was a holiday stretch, we decided to stay two nights at a hotel there, which had a lovely view of the Straits of Malacca from the eighth floor, and a multitude of water chalets fanning out to sea.
And so off we went in the Accord for some family bonding time while seeking to indulge in the flavours of the kopitiam, restaurants and stalls across the resort town.
As the top-of-the-line model that Honda Malaysia offers, the Accord 2.4 VTI-L carries itself well.
On the outside, it’s a picture of modern elegance and is sizeable enough to qualify as a family or executive sedan.
There’s continuity in the lines as they flow from front to back and the Accord attempts to look sporty with flared front fenders and a short rump that nonetheless opens up to a generous stowage boot space.
The front offers an agreeable but somewhat conservative styling that’s bolstered by LED headlamps that swivels in corners.
A thick chrome bar links up the large wraparound LED combo tail lamps, adding a robust flourish to the rear.
Lending visual impact are 18-inch alloy wheels that are exclusive to the 2.4-litre variant. A 2.0-litre Accord, available in two trims, get 17-inchers instead.
However, where looks are concerned, the competition has gotten better than the Accord.
Check out the sportier-looking 2.5L Camry Hybrid or the Mazda6 for comparison. Honda is aiming to address this in the 2016 Accord, which is a facelift in the model’s midlife cycle.
Step inside and one will find the Accord to be premium and roomy, with ample headroom and elbow room to manoeuvre around.
Leather seats and lashings of pseudo wood panelling are to be found across the dash, on the centre console and door armrests to evoke a luxury ambience.
A central dual colour screen infotainment system anchors the attractive dash and should find its share of owners who adore it though we do think the dash could do with fewer buttons.
Parking brake is foot-operated so that’s a good move to free up centre console space.
The driver gets an eight-way power seat while the front passenger has it four-way to adjust for optimal comfort.
Dual-zone air-conditioning is standard and cold air is pumped to rear passengers through separate vents.
Other worthy mod-cons to note are the multi-angle rear-view camera and Honda LaneWatch to minimise blind spots on the left side, with a camera mounted below the side mirror.
It should prove useful to less skilful drivers. And no, there’s no camera for the driver’s side as you are expected to rely on your senses to avoid mishaps.
The Accord had already clocked nearly 30,000km before we took it, so it was well and truly run in.
On the move, the car remains a quiet and relaxing drive. This Accord comes with noise cancelling technology that works in tandem with cabin insulation to keep the interior hush.
Under the bonnet lies a 2.4-litre “Earth Dream” engine that emphasises efficiency over performance.
Nevertheless, the 173hp and 225Nm of torque are respectable numbers that are manifested in power being delivered smoothly and progressively – as expected of such a car.
Drive is relayed to the front axle via a 5-speed automatic transmission that rows through the ratios without hesitation.
The 65-litre tank was easily good for 500km, but real-world figures would vary depending on driving style and typical traffic conditions.
If you want to be miserly about it, turning the ECON mode on should help with extending mileage.
One would think 18-inch wheels would ride hard but the pliant suspension helps offset any stiffness and is competent enough to keep road harshness and vibrations at bay.
High-speed stability is commendable and the car feels planted in the straights and when rounding bends.
A long distance commute or trip would be quite soothing under the circumstances, backed by a substantial range of safety equipment such as six airbags, stability control, hill start assist, ABS, electronic brake force distribution, emergency stop signal, active cornering lights and blindspot detection.
The exhaust note turns noticeably sporty above 3,000rpm to quicken the heartbeat, complemented by the availability of a sport mode and paddle shifters.
The steering is light and quick, but muted in feel. The engine doesn’t have that sumptuous grunt at the low end and needs to be revved harder to go up a stretch of incline.
But no worries, it eventually gets there with little fluster.
Maybe it was just us, but we found the sat-nav required too much fiddling around to use; the mapping info also did not have sufficient details on some main roads and POIs (Point of Interests).
Imagine running on a blank landscape as we cruised the South Klang Valley Expressway.
Well, hopefully the maps would have been upgraded since.
Make no mistake. The 2.4-litre Accord is a very likeable car and is certainly worth the extra penny if you are changing up from lesser automobiles.
But it’s also playing in a competitive field where it cannot afford to be complacent or risk being undercut by piranha-like rivals who are catching up.
Note that the locally assembled Accord is due for a price increase come 2016, no thanks to a depreciated ringgit.
Going forward, styling changes are expected of the Accord and upgrading the kit list (think more forward gears and feel-safe paraphernalia among others) would only enhance its status as a flagship with youthful vigour.