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2011-05-18 19:59

ACCORD IN THE CAPE: Honda SA launched the 2011 Accord range from the Asara wine estate in the Western Cape. Images: LES STEPHENSON

Les Stephenson

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it was Honda’s take on its Accord sedans and wagons ahead of this week’s midlife refresh – at a glance you won’t notice a difference but under the shell is a whole new ball game.

So much so, in fact, that certain models will carry you down the highway with no driver input whatsoever... no, I’ll explain just now.

The current range of Accords was launched back in 2008, though a diesel engine (upgraded this time around) has been added since then. And even the 2008 model wasn’t that different to the model before that.


“The Accord has become a firm favourite among discerning motorists since we introduced the current model almost exactly three years ago,” asserted Graham Eagle, director of sales and marketing at Honda SA.

“It enjoys a revered reputation for build quality, technological innovation and keen dynamics and scores high marks for efficiency and safety but this latest version builds on the car’s existing virtues and ups the ante in several important respects.

“It looks fresher, rides better and continues to build on an extensive active safety package. We’re particularly proud of the 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel engine that’s had a substantial power boost.”


Despite that, prices have increased by only about two percent on the carry-over models – the Exclusive model has extra safety and driver assistance systems that have added around R30 000 to the more basic cars’ prices.

Your call...

In a nutshell, the 2011 Accords have what the automaker calls an “updated exterior with sharper, more tailored aesthetics”, better fuel-efficiency, a more refined suspension, improved handling and advanced technology for crash protection and - better, much better! - crash avoidance in the first place.

Strangely, Eagle added, sales of diesel cars has fallen across the board by 20% to only 12% of the market – and that as fuel prices have risen steadily - maybe because the SA market has not been encouraged to adopt the five parts per million (of sulphur) common in other Western markets and maybe because the price differential with petrol has been eroded.

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET: Honda specs its Accord range to meet buyers demands - there are no options, unlike other European brands on which just about everything is "an extra cost option".

Sales of estates/wagons/tourers are also falling but Honda intends to keep its Accord wagon in stock; the drop is also in discord with what is happening in other world markets. In Europe, for instance as much as 40% of sales are estates.

The main appearance changes on the 2011 Accord involve the nose – and even that is minimal. The bumper, fog lights and grille have been amended and the turn signals are now white (when not flashing) instead of orange.

Top-spec models get bi-xenon headlights with active cornering lights and auto-dipping headlights that also dim when the red lights of a car ahead are identified.

Changes in the cabin are very minimal: updates include new dark silver interior panels, bright silver door releases and handbrake and stitching on the black leather seat trim has been changed from black to grey.

Honda has also put the focus on friction – or at least the reduction thereof. Frictional losses in the wheels and tyres have been reduced by introducing low-friction wheel-bearings; a new autobox fluid has smoothed the ratios – which have been lengthened for better fuel economy.

LEATHER ON ALL MODELS: Cloth upholstery is an "option" in other markets but Honda SA figures SA buyers really want leather, so includes it in the deal.

The 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel engines have also been quietened though their newfound power is very obvious; in fact, I doubt if an ordinary driver would be able to tell whether a petrol or diesel engine was under the bonnet, so effective is the noise-damping treatment. The diesels have better crank bearings and new type of double-ignition system to eliminate “cold clatter” and various underbody sections have been muffled.

Thicker rear-window glass has also cut out a lot of road and wind noise – as has an extra insulation layer in the carpeting.

And so back to the “no driver input” magic... it’s part of the new Honda “advanced driver assist system” available on the new 2.4 Exclusive models and involves three distinct technologies:

•    Collision mitigation braking system.
•    Lane-keeping assistance.

•    Adaptive cruise control.

They may be separate systems, but they all work together and, when in harmony, the car will ride equidistant between parallel road markings – solid or broken – almost indefinitely provided the driver keeps his/her hand lightly on the steering wheel.

It’s eerie: with cruise control set to pace the car ahead and lane-keeping activated, the driver can pretty much relax, with minimal steering correction required. It’s the closest thing yet to a self-driving car automatic car.

Here’s how each works...

•    Collision Mitigation Braking System
One of the most common causes of accidents is the delay between the driver recognising an impending accident and his taking evasive action. This has prompted Honda to focus on pre-crash systems such as CMBS, which improve the car’s response to critical situations.

CMBS uses millimetre-wave radar in the Accord’s grille which compares road speed and closing speed and recognises when a collision is imminent. It then reacts in three steps.

The driver receives an audible and visual BRAKE! warning. If no action is taken, the alarm sounds again, the pre-tensioner tugs three times on the driver’s seat belt and light braking is applied.

If there’s still no response, and the system senses that a collision is unavoidable, the brakes are forcefully applied and the seat belts are cinched tight.

CMBS will not bring the car to a complete stop but will reduce the severity of the collision. It has been recognised as one of the best safety innovations of recent times and it has been estimated that, if fitted to ALL cars, it would prevent as many as 250 000 collisions a year in Europe alone.

•    Lane Keeping Assist System
Fatigue and distraction, Honda believes, are serious issues for drivers, particularly on a long journey – a belief that resulted in the creation of this system which operates anywhere between 70 and 180km/h.

A camera monitors lane markings and, should its host start to veer towards either, a computer corrects the (electric) steering automatically – unless the movement is deliberate and the relevant indicator is flashing.

Honda says the system can provide up to 80% of the required steering input torque – sufficient for frequent, minor steering corrections without compromising the driver’s control.

•    Adaptive Cruise Control
Using the same millimetre-wave radar this system maintains a following distance from the vehicle ahead – a system in use for some time by rival brands.

The driver can select one of three distance parameters and braking is achieved, when necessary, by reduced throttle and – if urgent – by braking... the extreme of which is collision mitigation.


In the sedan, the engine choice comprises a two or 2.4-litre four-cylinder i-VTEC petrol engine with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed auto transmission.

The 110kW i-DTEC diesel engine has only a five-speed auto transmission, the 132kW high-output version has a six-speed manual box.

The Accord Tourer is available with the 2.4-litre petrol engine or either diesel.

The Accord 2.0 i-VTEC Elegance has a 1997cc engine producing 115kW at 6300rpm and 192Nm from 4100-5000rpm driving through a six-speed manual gearbox. It sprints to 100km/h in 10sec and tops out at 215km/h and has a combined-cycle fuel consumption of 7.2 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 165g/km.

The five-speed auto version makes 100km/h in 11.3sec and 212km/h top speed while burning 7.4 litres/100km and emitting 171g/km of CO2/km

The Accord 2.4 i-VTEC generates 148kW at 7000rpm and 234Nm at 4300rpm, its six-speed manual version reaching 100km/h in 8.1sec and 227km/h. Combined cycle fuel consumption is 8.8 litres/100km, CO2 emissions 203g/km

The five-speed auto runs to 100km//h in 9.8sec and 227km/h. Fuel consumption in the combined cycle comes to 8.6 litres/100km, CO2 emissions 199g/km.

The new, uprated 2.2 i-DTEC turbodiesel engine’s maximum power is 132kW at 4000rpm with 380Nm of torque from 2000rpm. Linked to a six-speed manual gearbox, it reaches 100km/h in 8.7sec and a top speed of 220km/h. Combined cycle fuel consumption 5.8 litres/100km, CO2 emissions 151g/km.

In 110kW form, the 2.2 i-DTEC (auto only) achieves 100km/h in 10.3sec and top speed of 207km/h. Combined cycle consumption 6.5 litres/100km, CO2 emissions 170g/km.


The 2011 Honda Accord range is offered in three specification levels: Elegance, Executive and Exclusive.

Accord Elegance: Six-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed auto. Features include 17” alloy rims, high-intensity discharge headlights, dual-zone climate control, heatable front seats and leather trim.

Standard safety systems include dual front, side and curtain airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, trailer stability assistance and electric power steering.

Accord Executive: All the above features plus cruise control, eyewear holder, eight-way power adjustment for the front seats with a driver’s side memory function, steering wheel-mounted controls for the audio system Bluetooth phone connectivity.

Accord Exclusive: All the above plus USB/iPod connector, rain-sensing screen wipers, auto bi-Xenon headlights with active cornering lights, auto dipping headlights, front and rear parking sensors and a premium audio system with 10 speakers and a sub-woofer.

Tourer versions have roof rails and a power-operated tail door.


Accord 2.0 Elegance - R303 000
Accord 2.0 Elegance a/t R317 500
Accord 2.4 Executive - R358 700
Accord 2.4 Executive a/t - R371 200
Accord 2.2 i-DTEC Executive - R388 200
Accord 2.2 i-DTEC Executive a/t - 401 200
Accord Tourer 2.4 Executive - R388 700
Accord Tourer 2.4 Executive a/t R401 200
Accord Tourer 2.4 Exclusive - R416 700
Accord Tourer 2.4 Exclusive a/t R431 200
Accord Tourer 2.2 i-DTEC Executive R428 200
Accord Tourer 2.2 i-DTEC Executive a/t - R431 200

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