So I drove a 2008 Accord to Fujeirah
I was invited to share and pilot a 2008 Honda Accord with another journo on a press drive from Dubai to Fujeirah and back. Considering we didn’t have enough time with the cars other than straightforward driving, I’ll save a full review for when I get one in front of my building. What I can talk about are my first impressions of the 2008 Honda Accord, in both 2.4 and 3.5 trims.
Only a handful of local journalists showed up for the drive, and on the Dubai-Fujeirah trip, I shared a graphite 3.5 EX with an editor from Wheels. On the way back, we hopped into a mid-range 2.4 version.
The exterior is conservative, but little unique styling touches can be seen in person that disappear in photos, such as protruding head-lights and chunky tail-lights. The overall profile mimics a BMW 5-Series, which is not a bad thing considering how dull the front chrome-grille treatment is. The twin exhaust tips and optional rear lip spoiler on our 3.5 adds a dash of sportiness.
The interior is very stylish, even if a little oddball around the centre stack. The buttons are big and a big LCD displays settings for the a/c, stereo and other stuff we didn’t get into. Most of the cabin surfaces are soft to the touch, except for the furthest reaches of the dashboard and the lowest parts of the legroom. Speaking of legroom, there is tons of space inside, including headroom and elbowroom. A Honda engineer told me it is as big as the large-class Toyota Avalon inside. And the perfect beige leather in our 3.5 just adds to the upscale feel. The grey cloth seats in our 2.4 is more pedestrian, but the doors still have leather inserts. The automatic a/c and CD/MP3 stereo do their jobs well enough.
The 3.5-litre V6 boasts 271 hp, but the 339 Nm of torque peaks at a very high 5,000 rpm. This is immediately noticeable, since I was expecting earth-shattering acceleration, but was instead met with a soft take-off that only started getting rapid at higher revs. The 5-speed auto gearbox is smooth, but it has no tiptronic function. A heavy right foot is needed to keep this engine in its sweet spot. An unnoticeable computer system apparently shuts down as many as 3 cylinders to save fuel on the highway.
The 2.4-litre inline-4 fairs even worse, with poor response at low revs. Things pick up at high revs once the 178 hp kicks in alongside the 222 Nm of torque. Peak torque is reached at a high 4,300 rpm, so it feels a lot like the Camry even though horsepower is higher in the Accord. Passing requires a pedal-to-the-floor approach, but cruising is easily handled once up to speed. The 5-speed auto gearbox is again smooth, with no tiptronic functionality. A 5-speed manual is available in the lowest trim level.
Handling is definitely a step above the Camry, with good body control and admirable grip. I only pushed the 3.5 as much as public roads would allow, but the grip limit is much higher than the Camry. Body roll is unnoticeable on long curving roads, but I easily managed to make the car jiggle by zig-zagging the steering wheel, revealing the suspension’s soft side. This of course allows the Accord to be as comfortable as the Camry, with similar levels of limited wind noise, but a bit more road noise. Both our test cars had 225/50 tyres on 17-inchers. The ABS-assisted disc brakes have excellent pedal feel and offer strong stopping power in normal situations.
With safety features that include standard ABS, whiplash protection, front airbags and a stiffer body, it should appeal to families and chickens, although stability control and side-curtain airbags are reserved for the V6 only.
I wasn’t impressed by the 2008 Accord when I first saw it in photos, but after driving it, I am sure it will probably make buyers out of most people who walk into showrooms to look at one up close. I did not measure fuel economy since I could not find the trip computer, but the fuel-gauge needle hardly budged on either car. And that’s what counts in this segment.
The coupe is coming next year, with the 2.4 version coming in Spring and the 3.5 in the summer. The coupe’s manual version will not be offered officially, although you could probably force the dealer to ship one for you from USA.