Honda's 10th-generation executive sedan delivers space and comfort with a 1.5-litre turbo engine
Agreeable Honda Accord Honda's 10th-generation executive sedan delivers space and comfort with a 1.5-litre turbo engine ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The dictum "small is more" may well apply to the new 10th-generation Honda Accord.

The smallness in this case does not refer to the size of the car. At 4,901mm by 1,862mm, it is the biggest Accord yet. The smallness refers to its engine which at 1,498cc, is the tiniest power plant to be employed in an Accord.

It is, however, suitably turbocharged to make a respectable 201hp and 260Nm of torque from 1,600rpm - enough for the Japanese barge to keep up with traffic.

The Accord is not alone in having a big body and small engine. Cars like the Opel Insignia and Ford Mondeo are also big sedans with 1.5-litre turbo engines.

The Mondeo is no longer available, but against the slightly smaller and lighter Insignia, the Accord fares rather well. It attains 100kmh in 9.1 seconds, versus 9.4 seconds by the German. This has to do with the Accord's higher output and the efficiency of its Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Of course, in today's world, a 9.1-second century sprint is really nothing to write home about. Yet, it is not something to be sniffed at when the vehicle clocking the sprint has such a big body driven by such a puny engine.

At the wheel, the Accord cannot be described as brisk. Driven leisurely, it delivers an acceptable pace, often feeling like something with a bigger heart. Indeed, it is quicker than the 2.5-litre normally aspirated Toyota Camry.

But when you are in a hurry, it is best to drive the Accord in Sport mode. Otherwise, you will have to resort to heavy-footed driving, especially when overtaking is required.

You will also avoid the stretched rubber band feeling which CVTs are notorious for if you pick Sport mode from the start.

You can also let your thumb do the driving, by activating the car's Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). This radar-based system allows the Accord to drive at a pre-selected speed and keep a pre-set distance from the vehicle in front.

It works well enough, but the system is limited by the engine's performance. And if you switch midway to a lane with stationary vehicles, it may not react fast enough.

The new Accord is not only the biggest Accord, but it is also the best equipped. Besides ACC, it has Collision Mitigation Braking System, which applies the brakes to avoid low-speed collisions.

The system will also help you stay in lane and has a nifty camera which comes on when you signal left. (This works best in the day, as it is susceptible to glare at night.) There is cross traffic alert as well, plus a 360-degree camera system, self-locking doors and a wireless phone charger.

None of these is unique, but is still rare to find so many of such premium features in a car which it is well below $200,000.

Despite being sizeably bigger but lighter than its predecessor, the Thai-made Accord shares its platform with the Civic and the CR-V, which have both grown too.

Most crucially, the Accord still exudes an old-school solidity it is remembered for. And it excels in the two areas which made it a household name over several generations - namely, space and comfort.

But today, it faces rivals its predecessors never faced, including the Volkswagen Passat and Skoda Superb. Both are very compelling, even if they have slightly bigger engines than the Accord.