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Honda Accord 2.4 Executive, a smooth-sailing sedan


DO YOU know what? In terms of character and comfort the new Accord reminds me - a lot - of the rather lovely Lexus ES. Driving it is a bit like slipping on an old pair of sheepskin-lined slippers, and - once behind the wheel of the big Honda - stress simply slips away.

Indeed, it's not hard to see why Americans are crazy for the Accord - which has a distinct stateside flavour to its make-up - and over in the US it's a best-seller, along with the Toyota Camry.

In 3.5 V6 Exclusive guise it also happens to be a finalist in the 2015 SA Car of the Year competition, while back in 2009 the previous-generation car scooped the award.

Now, rather unsurprisingly, the latest, ninth-generation Accord is longer, wider and taller than the outgoing car, and while styling is sleeker and slipperier from certain angles it's perhaps not quite as distinctive as the old cars. The cruel might even lightly toy with using the word "bland," especially when it comes to describing the rear of the car. No matter. Of course, interior space is also up, and with three models in the line-up, I spent a week with the mid-range 2.4 Executive. This uses a 2.4-litre, DOHC, i-VTEC engine that rocks something rather imaginatively and evocatively called "Honda's Earth Dreams" technology which is aimed at enhancing eco-friendliness.

It might only have four cylinders, this motor, but it's almost as smooth as a six, while performance is more acceptable than electrifying with the zero-to-100km/h run coming up in a claimed 10.6 seconds. Maximum velocity is pegged at a conservative 200km/h. That's not a bad thing. The national limit is 120km/h, after all, not the 250km/h that so many other powerful luxury cars are limited to.

The output of 132kW at 6 200rpm and 225Nm at 4 000rpm runs to the front wheels through a five-speed auto gearbox, which on paper, almost seems antediluvian in this age of seven, eight and nine-speed automatics. Yet in practice it impacts not a jot on the Accord's driveability. Claimed fuel consumption is 8.1 litres per 100km in the combined cycle.

Tech abounds, including LED headlights with auto-levelling and what's termed Active Cornering Light (ACL) technology, while buyers also get an electrically operated glass sunroof, and multi-spoke 18-inch alloys wearing low-profile rubber. That I question. Given the appalling state of our roads, what I'd want on a daily driver are high-profile tyres, able to soak up potholes and poor surfaces.

In the beautifully wrought cabin a full-colour Multi-information Display (i-MID) serves as the control centre for the car's electronic functions, and also doubles as the monitor for the reverse camera. Standard too is good sound - important this - and the 2.4 Executive packs six speakers and a sub-woofer, while the heated leather seats have eight-way electrical adjustment up front.

Push the Accord hard and it'll acquit itself quite commendably, but naturally where it really excels is in providing ride quality where noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) have been seemingly abolished by some sort of sorcery. The full range of active and passive safety systems are standard, of course, and you can expect a stellar crash rating.

And that takes us to the price. For the car here you're going to pay… hold on… R460 000. For just slightly less money you can get a marginally more powerful Mercedes-Benz C 200 in automatic guise. You might have to spend a little more to option the Benz to the same level as the well-equipped Accord. Yet, for all Honda's slipper-appeal, it's the Benz I'd edge towards, and not just for the badge but for the fact that it's essentially a mini Mercedes S-Class.

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