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Old 12th March 2009, 19:05   #1
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Default Honda Accord V6 Driven

It’s been a week of driving six cylinder cars like the Audi A4 3.2FSI and the BMW 325i. The Audi A4 was pretty much top on the list of my favourite cars and needless to say I had a good time driving it on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Here is a teaser.
Honda Accord V6 Driven-teaser.jpg

I was literally in love with this car and returning it was among the hardest things I did recently. The only consolation I had was the Accord 3.5L V6 waiting at Delhi to be ripped on the Noida expressway, a day later.

Honda Accord V6 Driven-accu.jpg



For a start this one has more displacement than the Audi, produces slightly more power but costs only about half as much. It might be from a Japanese car manufacturer but it was born with US in mind, so it’s large enough to fit five adults and their luggage. It probably is a good bargain high performance car you can buy in India and I was to drive it first before any car magazine could set their foot in the company.
Honda Accord V6 Driven-dsc02073.jpg
Honda Accord V6 Driven-dsc02189.jpg


The previous generation Accord V6 was a much revered car as far as the enthusiasts were concerned. The 3.0L V6 with 221bhp was great on power but had earned a reputation for being a gas guzzler. With the new Accord, Honda has made use of technology such as cylinder cut-out (seen in some V8s like the 300C-now ditched?) to help the Accord save some precious fuel. For those of you who don’t have a clue, here is what it does.
Honda Accord V6 Driven-chart.jpg
Honda Accord V6 Driven-operation.jpg


VCM or Variable Cylinder Management in Honda speak is a technology that shuts down selected cylinders to conserve fuel when driven gently over city roads and highways. The engine resorts to a four cylinder or even three cylinder operations there by cutting off the fuel supply when subjected to light throttle inputs. When more power is needed, the engine resumes operation of all its six cylinders. It all sounds brilliant but there are one or two issues with this.

One the engine could vibrate when it runs on 3 or 4 cylinders in the same way when one or more of the spark plugs on your four cylinders are fouled.

Secondly, even if the vibrations are taken care of, there could be a booming noise inside the cabin especially during 3cyl operations.

Honda has used something they like to call the Active engine mount to nullify any engine vibration that could arise when running on ECO mode. These replicate the vibrations that are out of phase with the original ones and counteract the engine displacements in any direction so that none of these vibrations are transmitted into the cabin.

Then to compensate for the boom, they use Active Noise Control System that cancels out any booming noises in real time by emitting out of phase sound waves from the speakers. This one utilises microphones in selected locations of the cabin and a signal generator built into the head unit and works irrespective of whether the audio system is On or Off.

Great stuff, but does it really work? The switching over between cylinders is so imperceptible and quick that you won’t know it happens were it not for that green ECO light in the instrument console. And it came on as I rolled out of the factory, moved towards the expressway, almost every time I took my leg off the accelerator till I entered the expressway and mashed it. The power delivery is immediate but gentle. I was expecting a kick in the back when all six cylinders fired at once but no! There was no jerk as the engine shifts between various operations and it was difficult to tell if it were running on 3 or 4cylinders. There was no obtrusive noise in the cabin and the V6 always felt creamy and smooth even when it was saving fuel. And how much fuel was it saving? When running on three cylinders, the 3.5litre engine becomes a 1.75litre. That makes it even more fuel efficient than the Civic, when driven gently, at least in theory.

Honda Accord V6 Driven-dsc02232.jpg But with 275ps of power and 339Nm of torque to play with, I was too busy to be bothered about the fuel saving, so I floored it. It is a remarkable difference over the Accord 2.4 which although has 180ps lacks the quick throttle responses of the older generation. It went past 100kmph and relentlessly climbed on to 160kmph before the truck in front closed down the overtaking window for me. Braking was adequate and secure for a vehicle of this class, but considering the additional power, it could have been made better. The engine note is addictive as it nears the redline. The five speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifts can hold on to a gear and let you keep it screaming all the way, if you want it. The upshifts are quick and seamless but down shifts are not that fast especially if you are in the better part of the rev band. The box automatically goes into normal drive mode, if the paddles are not used for a long time. I decided to push it even further despite the unusually heavy traffic on the road. The speedo climbed on to 180kmph, hit a cool 200kmph and the Accord was still pulling hard. The top speed could be close to 240kmph and it won’t take the V6 engine too much effort to take the speedo there. The V6 engine is all very powerful and sporty in nature but therein lies the problem.

The Accord has to play its role as a luxury car which even the 2.4 version does very well. The V6 improves on performance but the suspension set-up remains unchanged from the normal version. When you push it hard, the engine will oblige but the softness of the suspension will hold you back. I could drive the Audi at 230kmph and click the picture with my other hand thanks to the tight steering and stiff suspension which gave it great stability and confidence at such high speeds. In the Accord at 200kmph? I had both my hands on the wheel and it still needed a lot of corrections to be going straight.

The steering like in the 2.4 gets variable gear ratio to improve its responsiveness. However it doesn’t have the right kind of feel and feedback to satisfy the enthusiast’s palms. The car is agile and turns into corners very eagerly despite its size and weight but the feel of the steering especially at high speeds won’t please you. The soft suspension makes it harder to explore the abilities of the engine and that is the main problem with the V6. If normal highway driving and cruising is your prerequisite, the 2.4VTEC will do just fine. The thing is that when you are spending so much extra for a powerful engine, you expect a lot more. The engine has a lot of potential but the soft suspension and the light steering wheel prevents you from exploring that.

It would be strange to say that the previous generation Accord 3.0 V6 with 220horses felt much sharper to drive than this one. But then the new Accord is larger, heavier and more softly sprung than its predecessor. As a luxury car, it is the new one but for a driver's car it still is the original. It has been long since I drove the old Accord V6 but that feeling still lingers. The new Accord doesn't have the same sense of passion going for it as it predecessor although it’s faster and more competent all round. It feels like just another car with a powerful engine. The old one was more focussed on the driver who was having all the fun then. May be the eight generation Accord was built with the same driver in mind, who now got older and has a family to haul around, in which case the new V6 makes more sense.
Honda Accord V6 Driven-dsc02233.jpg
There is a vehicle stability assist system which also incorporates a traction control that can be switched off. It can come quite handy during insane lane change manoeuvres but its full potential couldn’t be realised on the straight roads where this road test was done. The Accord V6 gets 17inch wheels against the 16inchers on the 2.4. Other changes to the V6 include a new front grill, a duck tail spoiler on the boot, turn indicators on the rear view mirrors, wood finish on the steering wheel, dual exhausts at the rear etc.

Honda Accord V6 Driven-img_1348.jpg
The 1980’s white on black dot matrix display for the LCD still continues and takes pride of place on that well finished dashboard. Had it been a colour screen with GPS capability or at least a DVD playback, the additional costs for the V6 could be somewhat justified though not fully. You don’t get sunroof, xenon headlamps etc that are the present in cars several segments down.

If it were not for the bean counters who kept the cost on check, I would have loved the Accord V6 more. Imagine how much of an improvement would be made if it had stiffer suspension, better brakes and a tighter steering to go better with the sporty nature of the engine. It would limit its appeal as a luxury car but multiply its potential several times. Could we see a variant with all these or do we have to turn to aftermarket tuners?

In its class there is just no parallel for the new Accord. It is immensely powerful, very comfortable, has predictable handling, decent ride quality, is quite fuel efficient for its size and now Honda has made it an even sweeter deal by offering two engine options. The 2.4 has enough power to keep you entertained and is the better buy as a mostly chauffeur driven car. For any one who loves to drive fast and for that sheer brag factor, it is undoubtedly the V6, by a long margin. It is the 'best value for money seriously fast car' that you can buy in the country. Anything with similar power retails for double the price tag. And that alone is reason enough to buy one.
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Honda Accord V6 Driven-dsc02052.jpg  


Last edited by vivekji05 : 12th March 2009 at 19:19.
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Old 12th March 2009, 19:20   #2
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Excellent Review. Will be going for a test drive on saturday.
Honda has done one thing good and that is provide Paddle Shifts so as to minimize the A/T gear disadvantage.

Justifies the Price in my opinion.
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Old 12th March 2009, 19:24   #3
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Another great 'FIRST' review, Vivek!
Nicely penned down. Was a pleasure reading thru.

Ofcourse, Accord in India is considered to be a big luxury car. So, it isn't surprising to see a softly sprung suspension setup in the V6 version too.
For those who want to tame it, there're plenty aftermarket options to go for. Still, it would've been wonderful if Honda could have done something.

Value for money??
Bring the price tag by atleast 2L and then we can talk!
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Old 12th March 2009, 19:24   #4
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Nice review Vivek.
As i understand it is fuel efficient running on 3 cylinders however you haven't mentioned how much fuel/litre. Any clues?
And do you feel 25lac is justified for this car considering all the parameters?
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Old 12th March 2009, 19:27   #5
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Honestly I think that is too much to ask for two extra cylinders. Should have had more equipments to justify the price.

Couldn't test the fuel economy as the road-test was too short. ARAI document reads 10kmpl, I was told by a Honda official-no comments!

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Old 12th March 2009, 19:31   #6
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10kmpl seems like more likely for the highway , the Honda City with a 4 pot and 115 bhp 1.5L engine gives almost this in the city.
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Old 12th March 2009, 19:39   #7
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Great review vivekji! Do you think a manual would've helped? Are gear-changes quick?
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Old 12th March 2009, 19:45   #8
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Excellent review. Very well written. What's the secret in getting the car for review so early...

The old v6 was a stonker. Went like a beast and drank like a beast as well. 4-5kmpl. Lets hope the new v6 does better.

Just edited my post after seeing the price... Whoa !!! 25 lakhs ex-showroom.. That would mean in Bangalore it would be 28 lakhs+ That's too expensive even for a V6 !!! Anyways lets see how Honda is going to address this!!!

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Old 12th March 2009, 19:47   #9
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@pranavt

It is available only with the 5 speed automatic. Actually it delays downshifting to prevent revs going sky high.

A manual would definitely be my choice over the auto but only when I drive fast, say in the hills. Every other time, I love to have the auto.

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Old 12th March 2009, 19:51   #10
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Great work vivek, is it Jazz in 3rd last pic which have taken.
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Old 12th March 2009, 19:57   #11
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Are you talking about the pic which shows the dashboard?

That is a previous generation Honda Stream, the support vehicle for my photoshoot.
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Old 12th March 2009, 19:57   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pranavt View Post
Great review vivekji! Do you think a manual would've helped? Are gear-changes quick?
I think the absence of manual will not be felt too much with the presence of the paddle shifts . Of course they might not be as good as the manual but indeed would be better than the Auto Tranny.
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Old 12th March 2009, 20:08   #13
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Gotta get a drive! Capitol Honda, here i come! apart from this, I don't think the price differential is worth it!
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Old 12th March 2009, 20:12   #14
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Vivek, Thanks for that insightful review. I liked the simple comparisons drawn.

Earlier, I thought this was an expensive deal. However, I am convinced and am going with your last para where its a VFM car esp with the kind of performance it puts on the road. (Ignoring the mediocre suspension)
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Old 12th March 2009, 20:24   #15
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Excellent report,Vivek! I love the way you've described every little detail.
Great job!
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