9 Aug 2012

2013 Honda Accord

Honda have released the attached images of the 2013 Accord. The new model will initially debut in the US and come to Europe in 2014.

The black car is the new Accord but the red car is the concept coupe that was shown in January 2012.

It's fair to say that the concept was the more visually striking car. Honda are aiming for the volume selling mass, market mid-range segment so they didn't want to push the boat out too far. Their competitors certainly don't. the Mondeo, Insignia and Avensis and Passat are all similarly middle of the road.

Meanwhile Audi's A4, BMW's 3-series and Mercedes C-Class all allow themselves sharp lines, snarling grilles and at least some semblance of bold design. With the front wheel drive bland-mobiles we get jelly-mould sameness and front wheel drive understeery handling.

Drop down a segment and just look at the greatness that can be achieved with the Civic and the Golf. At least Honda and Volkswagen give us some style in that sector. The Astra and Focus try their hardest to give us some excitement with their hot hatch models but Toyota descend even further into the pit of designing by numbers with the Auris. Even the name is sleep inducing.

Back to the Accord. In the US it will come with 2.4 and 3.5 litre petrol engines as well as a hybrid which will no doubt be incredibly quiet and efficient. The engine range in the UK has not been confirmed but is likely to feature the 1.6 diesel which will also feature in the new CR-V.

When comparing the concept with the actual car that will be released it is hard not to think that Honda's designers didn't shed a tear as all their fantastic little features and ideas were wiped from the drawing board one by one.

The concept features a fantastically sculptured rear end that rakes forwards. The boot lip spoiler is incorporated well, the line that goes from the under the rear lights and under the boot lid is strong. The rhomboid exhausts, the grille under the rear number plate, the muscular haunches, the line from the front (rhomboid) LED lights through to the haunches, the snarling mouth under the front bumper, the lovely curved A pillars - are all gone on the showroom ready Accord.

OK the concept car was a coupe and some of the touches would have been expensive to produce but Honda really did smooth out anything resembling strong design and have created a poorer car for it.

I've probably just ruined whatever slim chance I had of testing the 2014 Accord when it comes to the UK but if Honda listen to some of this (constructive) criticism and make their car bolder than the US model then our roads will be a better place. They will be prettier and more striking and happier places to be.

Honda can do good design. The CR-V and Civic are both great cars that stand out in their sectors. But does the target audience - the middle manager, the salesman, the pensioner - really want their Accord to be a shrinking violet when it could be so much more.