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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
quote:[HR][/HR]
New Accord: Nicest mainstream car on the market
STOCKPORT, Ohio — The 30-mph corner slipped past at nearly 60 without a ripple of concern from car or driver. It took a moment to remember it was a Honda Accord four-door sedan taming the turns.
The front of the 2003 Honda Accord is low, mean and businesslike.
Honda
Accord's always been a feisty one among mainstream sedans, and the redesigned 2003, on sale Sept. 9, plays deliberately to that trait. "We tried to make a serious sport sedan out of the Accord," says Charles Baker, head of Accord development.
"That's not based on any market research whatsoever. It just seemed like a fun thing to do," he says.

Before you go goggle-eyed thinking Honda gambled its premier model on a roguish hunch, consider this Honda research: Only one-fourth of Accord sales are to families, a category that has abandoned sedans in favor of sport-utility vehicles. Half of Accord sales are to empty nesters, and one-fourth are to singles or kidless couples. With such a profile, why waste effort making the seventh-generation Accord a family car at the expense of sportiness?
So Baker and the Accord team targeted BMW specifically, German cars generally. "We wanted that same intimacy with the road," he says. At the same time, the '03 Accord was to have a premium feel, as if it were "a class above where the current Accord is." And, just to be clear, it is supposed to beat the snappy Nissan Altima.
Baker claims that — based on what we'll call field research by him and Honda V-6 engineer Yasuaki Asaki — the four-cylinder Accord, rated 160 horsepower, accelerates head-to-head with the four-cylinder Altima, rated 175 hp. And the 240-hp Accord V-6 outsprints the 240-hp Altima V-6, he says.
"It's nice to be a target of Honda instead of the other way around," says Jed Connelly, senior vice president for sales and marketing at Nissan North America. "If I saw a third-party validation and it was a tenth of a second different, I guess I'd believe it," he says. "We didn't go after horsepower for horsepower's sake. Our vision was a total package of performance."
And that, too, is like the '03 Accord. "The message of this Accord is that you can have it all," Baker says.
You can, it seems, come pretty close.
That's based on time in pre-production models along winding two-lane roads here, plus a week around home commuting and running errands in a pre-production, midlevel, LX sedan.
There are nits to pick, but the overall package probably is the nicest mainstream car on the market — assuming Honda keeps prices close to the current Accord's, as promised. Does nicest mean it'll top everybody's shopping list? Hardly. Nobody about to buy a rear-wheel-drive, high-status BMW will veer to a Honda store for a front-drive Accord, sporty or not. Nor will the Volkswagen Passat cabal suddenly throw down the keys, decide there's no value to VW's tasteful trim and delicious execution, and capitulate. Subaru partisans, scoffing at Accord's lack of all-wheel drive, aren't likely to be the first to trade. And so on.
But open-minded shoppers ought to have the '03 Accord in their cross hairs, even if they have been aiming at a different size or style. It's a very, very good car. Salients:
Powertrain. The V-6 engine storms. It produces less leap at low speed than you get from the thick torque in the Nissan Altima but otherwise is glorious. It revs so fast to the redline that it'll beat your reflexes, leaving you scrambling to shift the manual transmission to the next higher gear in time.
Torque is the key to quick starts from dead stops. Accord's 240-hp V-6 is rated 212 pounds-feet of torque. Altima's 240-hp V-6 is rated 246 lbs.-ft.
The Accord V-6 ratings assume regular-grade fuel, and Honda will market it as a regular-fuel engine. But — pssst — it's good for another 10 hp and 10-plus lbs.-ft. on premium, acknowledges V-6 engineer Asaki.
Transmissions. The automatic is a five-speed in a category dominated by four-speeds. The new gearbox shifts quite nicely — not always a given among Honda automatics. The five-speed manual seems well tailored to the four-cylinder's power curve, and the clutch usually operates smoothly. A slick-shifting, six-speed manual will be available in the coupe later.
In graceless moments, though, clutch engagement can be jerky, giving either engine an on-off, lunge-halt personality that's awkward in stop-and-go traffic.
Interior. Coupe seats are very inviting up front, perhaps Honda's most-comfortable ever. And the back isn't too bad, but it requires a contortion to enter, as most two-door cars do, and once seated, back-benchers must splay their legs around the back of the front seat.
Sedan seats are more comfortable than usual for Honda, though not as good as the coupe's front seats. There's good leg- and headroom in the sedan's back seat as well as in front. The middle, rear slot remains too narrow for all but kids.
Gauges glow with Lexus-style lighting that makes them easy to read, day or night. Audio controls have fun, graphic displays that show how far around the dial you've turned them. But why? In case your ears can't tell you? The gray interior is relentless, almost depressing for want of a brightener.
Details. Doors covering storage nooks glide open with luxury-car finesse. The steering wheel's fat and grippy; no need to buy the leather to get something that will make your hands smile. Underbody components are tucked up out of sight for a clean look. Wind noise is all but gone. Doors are (successfully) engineered to have a satisfying sound and a pleasant feel.
"We spent hours, dare I say days, fussing about the door handle, the feel of the door handle, the sound of the door closing," Baker says.
Features. Small things make a big difference. The steering column now telescopes as well as tilts. Anti-lock brakes and a CD player are standard. The cup holder's better. Remote lock controls are built into the key; no separate fob is needed.
Styling. The front's low, mean, businesslike, accented by a wheel arch that flares just so. The silhouette's engaging, handsome. The back's ... Did we mention that the front's low? It's kind of chunky in back. Some folks like it. The coupe's hindquarters are more graceful than the sedan's, not surprisingly.
The styling theme is supposed to be "cheetah," Baker says, chosen for the muscular image of that cat. Cheetah's also an endangered cat, becoming sadly inbred, just as Honda rumps seem to pick up the questionable genes of their forebears. But surely Honda had cheetah's more heroic image in mind.
At least the trunk under that high, chunky backside seems quite roomy, and the seat can fold for even more room.
A spiffy sports car or a nasty truck can make an easy impression, bowling you over if well done. A four-door sedan is an amalgam of subtler delights or disappointments, so a good sedan can be overlooked and taken for granted. Don't expect the '03 Accord to steal your breath. But don't be surprised if the light bulb above your head flashes on: "Oh, wow: This is how a car is supposed to work and feel."
The '03 Accord: What a gem.
[HR][/HR]​
Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the previous Accord article say that they did market research on VW? Wasn't he quoted as saying "those (VW) were our customers 15 years ago"?



[Modified by DCS, 7:27 AM 8-2-2002]

[Modified by DCS, 7:28 AM 8-2-2002]


[Modified by DCS, 7:28 AM 8-2-2002]
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (DCS)

quote:[HR][/HR]Accord's always been a feisty one among mainstream sedans, and the redesigned 2003, on sale Sept. 9, plays deliberately to that trait. "We tried to make a serious sport sedan out of the Accord," says Charles Baker, head of Accord development.[HR][/HR]​
Ok they new Accord will probably be pretty cool, with that TL motor and all. Howver, I would never describe the previous generation Accord as feisty.
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (DCS)

If Honda truly wanted to give the USA a sporty Accord it simply would have sold the European Accord here. Another American suit, (CB) who is a consumate bull sh!t artist.



[Modified by golf strom, 2:01 PM 8-2-2002]
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (mtrainVR6)

Oh good grief. Just because it's an Accord, everyone gets their panties in a knot, like there is no way the car could be fun. Accords were fun back when VW was plodding along with half-assed efforts like the Quantum.
Baker said they tried to make a sports sedan out of it - not that they were successful. What they did was add some enjoyment to a tremendously practical car. (What they really probably did was build a better, and cheaper, Acura TL, by no means a bad thing.)
Matt, as a Passat owner, I'd dump my car in a minute (assuming I had the $ to do so) for an Accord V6 wagon, if such a thing existed. The Accord probably handles better than my floppy-from-the-factory Passat, the interior looks really nice, and build quality is sure to be better.
That said, as the writer said, it ain't a BMW though....
Tom
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (DCS)

Any national publication that uses words like "kidless" looses all respect from me (Not that I had any to begin with). The car on the other hand sounds like it's at least an improvement, which is a step in the right direction anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (mutcth)

quote:[HR][/HR]Oh good grief. Just because it's an Accord, everyone gets their panties in a knot, like there is no way the car could be fun.
Tom[HR][/HR]​
My point in posting this Charman Ultra article was what a crock of crap this Honda project manager was.
He speaks with car people and says, we looked at the Passat and it's owners on how to make our car mor appealing and when speaking to the auto-illiterate says hey we didn't benchmark, we're just makin' our cars more fun for the fun of it. Please, it as if they tried to fool the enthusiasts (who balked) and failed so now they're trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public (which will probably work).
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (DCS)

I see your point. After listening to brand managers (like I want to be - mmmm, money) spout off at car show press releases a few times, you learn they all say the same thing and sound the same. It sounds more sincere in print than when it's said - but that doesn't make it much better....
Tom
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (mutcth)

quote:[HR][/HR]Baker said they tried to make a sports sedan out of it - not that they were successful. [HR][/HR]​

quote:[HR][/HR]The Accord probably handles better than my floppy-from-the-factory Passat, the interior looks really nice, and build quality is sure to be better.
[HR][/HR]​
The last two points may be true, but after having driven many versions of the stock Accord versus our stock Passat, I really think the Passat is more fun in the corners and has much better road feel than the Accord. Unless the current version has morphed into a sports sedan...(not likely based on the edmunds review).
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (PhilHVW)

What's going on?
I don't trust Joe Schmoe and Sally Sumpter with 240hp!
And I thought that making the Altima V6 fast was unwise
I guess we'll just have to increase speed limits
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (mutcth)

quote:[HR][/HR]Oh good grief. Just because it's an Accord, everyone gets their panties in a knot, like there is no way the car could be fun. Accords were fun back when VW was plodding along with half-assed efforts like the Quantum.
Baker said they tried to make a sports sedan out of it - not that they were successful. What they did was add some enjoyment to a tremendously practical car. (What they really probably did was build a better, and cheaper, Acura TL, by no means a bad thing.)
Matt, as a Passat owner, I'd dump my car in a minute (assuming I had the $ to do so) for an Accord V6 wagon, if such a thing existed. The Accord probably handles better than my floppy-from-the-factory Passat, the interior looks really nice, and build quality is sure to be better.
That said, as the writer said, it ain't a BMW though....
Tom[HR][/HR]​
Hope it handles better than the current model. My mom has an '01, and it truly handles like a**, to me at least...
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (VadGTI)

That's right on the mark. My friends father just bought an Accord. I drove it and when asked how it handled I said it felt like it had marshmellos for shocks and asked if I could take the boxing gloves off. My friend agrred with me on all accounts. The 4 banger in the car was anything but fiesty, shiesty maybe
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (mtrainVR6)

quote:[HR][/HR]APR stage 3 Passat. Bye Bye Accord.
[HR][/HR]​
Put the same amount of money into the Accord engine. Bye Bye Passat
What's your point?
Not to mention the Passat cost more to begin with.
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (lip)

quote:[HR][/HR]Accord's always been a feisty one among mainstream sedans, and the redesigned 2003, on sale Sept. 9, plays deliberately to that trait. "We tried to make a serious sport sedan out of the Accord," says Charles Baker, head of Accord development.
Ok they new Accord will probably be pretty cool, with that TL motor and all. Howver, I would never describe the previous generation Accord as feisty.[HR][/HR]​
If you compare similar year/generations the Accord has been the better handling and often better accelerating of the mainstream sedans (Camry, Altima, and Accord).
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (golf strom)

Honda is going to sell the European Accord in the US around March 2003. It will be re-badged as the Acura TS-X. So far the engine options are a 160hp 2.0 liter, 180 hp 2.4 liter, and a 250 hp 2.4 liter. Here is a spy photo:
 

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Re: Charles Baker lies like a rug. (mutcth)

quote:[HR][/HR]Oh good grief. Just because it's an Accord, everyone gets their panties in a knot, [HR][/HR]​
Ya, it seems like people take this stuff so personally.
"oh my god, they showed a Dodge pass a Porsche in that commercial. I will never buy a dodge product now because I have been personally offended by their advertisement."
 
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