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Honda Accord Hybrid First Drive Review

What is it?

The Accord Hybrid is Honda India’s first full-fat premium offering in years. It is also the brand’s maiden attempt at giving an eco-friendly alternative to the diesel brigade from the Germans. That being said, it mainly rivals the Toyota Camry Hybrid which has been bit of a lone ranger in the Indian market for quite some time. Now Honda, as we know, has bet a lot on hybrid technology. The latter in fact is part of Honda’s modern DNA and can be seen in several models globally. For the Indian market, Honda decided to introduce its latest hybrid tech with the ninth-gen Accord. We took it out for a quick spin to tell you if going green has helped its cause.

Unarguably the best piece of design on the whole car are those sharply creased and beautifully detailed full LED headlights. The 18-inch wheels, too, are brilliant to look at. The rear-end though looks rather tamed, despite the sharply sculpted bumper and the broad LED taillights. Overall, the Accord Hybrid is big, aesthetically well-rounded and there is no denying it looks sedately premium, even in the company of posh European rivals.

How is it on the inside?

It’s an open secret that Japanese cars aren’t particularly high on cabin luxury and feel good factor. Even the most high-end of Toyotas and Hondas tend to feel plasticky at places and lack that general sense of opulence. The Accord Hybrid however begs to differ. For starters, the button-laden and frankly old-school looking dashboard of the previous gen model has made way for this much more luxurious unit. The design highlights in here include the chunky four-spoke steering wheel and the instrument panel which has been integrated seamlessly into the 7.7-inch multi-information display (i-MID) positioned centrally on the dash. Beneath it you will find a 7-inch touchscreen audio system. All in all, not only is the dashboard made up of far higher quality materials than before, it has also got a nice, simple layout of controls and buttons that’s easy on the eye.

Let’s face it, majority of Accord buyers purely look for the levels of space and comfort the car has to offer. It comes as no surprise, then, that this new model leaves a mighty good impression when you set yourself into the seats. The cabin space is massive. When guys over at Honda say it’s spacious, they really mean it. The front seats are snug and supportive and foot well is generous as well. That said, it’s in the back where the Accord really shines. The rear seat itself is massive and set low and because of the fairly large interior, there is loads of legroom and headroom; so much so that head and leg room won’t be a worry for even six footers. What might be worrying though is the boot space; at 424 litres it doesn’t do justice to the sheer size of the car although that’s down to the battery and the electric components eating into the boot volume.

How does it drive?

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.

Should I buy one?

If the clever hybrid tech doesn’t make you reach out for that cheque book, the sheer amount of safety features certainly would. Besides comfort-oriented features like audio system with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, GPS, keyless entry, sunroof and electrically adjustable driver and front passenger seats, the Accord Hybrid is loaded with a range of active and passive safety technologies. There’s ABS with brake assist, traction control, stability control, motion-adaptive EPS, front and side curtain airbags, multi angle cameras, front and rear parking sensors and active cornering lamps. What’s entirely new to this segment though is Honda’s LaneWatch, a camera-based system which enhances driver’s view of side traffic. Using a camera on the passenger-side mirror, the driver can have a live feed on the infotainment screen, of the traffic or pedestrians in the car’s blind spot.

Ultimately, it’s all down to the pricing.In this regard, the Accord Hybrid is at bit of a disadvantage. Whereas the Camry Hybrid is locally assembled at around Rs 38 lakh (on-road, Mumbai), the Accord Hybrid will be brought to India as a fully imported unit. Be prepared, then, to shell out a hefty premium of around Rs 3-5 lakh over the Camry.

Where does it fit in?

With the Camry Hybrid as its only true rival, competition for this new Honda Accord is slim. Both these cars cater to a niche market and as a result, are yet to be deemed as feasible alternatives to regular petrol and diesel powered luxury sedans.


Pictures by Ameya Dandekar

Click here for spec comparison between Honda Accord Hybrid and VW Passat GTE

Click here for photo gallery of the Honda Accord Hybrid


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Honda Accord Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 54.64 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 54.84 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 49.38 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 51.72 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 52.26 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 49.05 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 51.9 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 48.57 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 48.92 Lakhs onwards
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