The Accord Hybrid features not one but two sources of propulsion. One is the 2-litre,i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine and the other one is a dual electric motor set-up. All combine to deliver a peak power output of 215bhp and 315Nm of torque right from the word go. Honda calls its hybrid system as the Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD). Now this system works in three different modes - EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive. Under regular conditions, the Accord runs in Hybrid Drive mode, in which the petrol engine operates as a generator to charge up the batteries. However, the car can run on pure electric mode in stop-start traffic, slow speed cruising or when braking. All this while, the petrol is decoupled from the drivetrain to reduce friction. In full EV mode, one of the two electric motors alone powers the front wheels as the petrol motor (decoupled from the drivetrain) powers the electric generator which in turn charges up the battery pack. This allows the petrol motor-generator combo to supplement the battery by offering more electrical power to the propulsion motor. This rather complicated type of propulsion system can be found in most series hybrid models.
Lastly, in the Engine Drive mode it’s the petrol motor that does most of the work by engaging the lock-up clutch which connects the generator motor and the electric drive motor, effectively sending the power directly from the engine to the front wheels. This configuration comes into play at highway speeds wherein the system works as a parallel hybrid where both the petrol and electric motors work together for maximum punch. In the real world, the drivetrain switches between the three modes seamlessly and it’s only when you pin the throttle, say from a set of lights, would you be able to sense the engine all fired up.
As you would expect, the Accord Hybrid is dead silent at slow speeds. In full EV mode you could even sneak up on other motorists, it’s that silent. There is a limitation to this convenience though – the electric-only driving range is just around 2km post which the petrol motor kicks in. With both the motors working together, performance is strong throughout the bottom end and midrange. It goes without saying that the Accord gets up to highway speeds with ease. The effortless acceleration, in fact, goes well with the laidback, comforting nature of the car. As for the gearbox, the e-CVT unit in here has been tuned in line with the relaxed nature of the car. As a result, it is a little slow to react and hardly engaging when you’re up for some fun behind the wheel. That being said, the rubber-band effect usually present with CVTs isn’t as obvious in this hybrid. Our first drive was mostly restricted to the super wide and smooth tarmac of the Outer Ring Road, Hyderabad. Even so, there was a lot of vertical movement over longer undulations. Make no mistake, the Accord Hybrid delivers a comfortable ride even on poorly surfaced roads but at high speeds, its ride quality can get bouncy though never to the point that it can be deemed uncomfortable.