Honda Accord revised for 2013

Honda Australia expects the Accord here in the middle of 2013. Photo Gallery

Honda’s Thai-built Accord is being charged up to make a fresh tilt at Australia’s growing mid-size car market.

The Accord, here in the middle of next year, boasts a bigger cabin with more luggage room but overall, is about 130mm shorter. It is also 25kg lighter thanks to its 56 per cent use of high-tensile steel.

Unusual for Honda is that this car will be the same for its global markets. Previously there were design and structural differences between Accords made in the US and, for example, Thailand, Japan or China.

New is a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) that replaces the five-speed conventional automatic. A six-speed manual remains an option in the 2.4-litre while the 3.5-litre carry-over V6 – with cylinder management that lets it run on three cylinders – gets a six-speed automatic.

Honda claims the CVT will mean better fuel economy and improve acceleration. Honda’s Earth Dreams” drivetrains make an appearance with three powerplants – a new 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, a V6 and a hybrid. Unlike many of its rivals, there is no turbocharging.

The 2.4-litre claims more power, better fuel economy and lower emissions than its predecessor.

It will have direct petrol injection and an updated variable-valve timing system that includes variable cam timing. It is expected to produce about 140kW.

Plans are for a new two-motor Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) Accord model next year but Honda Australia hasn’t made a call on this. It will be the first time Honda has put this technology into production.

Information released the week in the US says the two-motor hybrid system allows engine power to drive the front wheels, charge the battery pack or power the generator. It is similar in design to the Holden Volt’s drivetrain. The car defaults to electric-drive mode from startup and – after being charged up overnight – can drive for up to 25km before the petrol engine automatically kicks in to charge the batteries.

It is expected to have a range greater than 800km and a fuel economy equivalent of more than 2.4 L/100km. Honda says a 240-volt charging system can recover 12km of electric-only range in 30 minutes and fully charge in an hour. The car can run its climate control full blast and remain in electric mode.

The PHEV Accord will be joined in most global markets later in 2013 by a cheaper, more conventional hybrid that has the same drivetrain design as the Civic Hybrid model. Honda has also dropped the double-wishbone front suspension and reverted to the more common MacPherson strut system. It made the same move with the Civic about six years ago.

The Accord will also have electric-assist steering to further reduce fuel consumption. Honda Australia expects the Accord here in the middle of 2013.

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