If, like me, you purchased your first car in the early or mid-1990s then there’s a good chance you will have lusted over the Japanese rockets that started coming into New Zealand cheap at around that time. Mazda Familia GTR and RX-7, Nissan Skyline and Silvia, Subaru Impreza and Legacy, and Mitsubishi Evo satisfied the rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive market.
If you were a fan of front-wheel drive and VTEC, though, it was the Integra Type R, the CRX and the Civic Type R that would have caught your attention. Many of these arrived in New Zealand with a Mugen sticker somewhere on the flank, or hidden on a piece of body kit.
What we have here is the grownup’s version of those iconic cars. With an ostentatious body kit — some of it is carbon fibre — this Accord V6 Mugen allows people of my generation who now hold corporate jobs to have a sensible, businesslike car while recapturing some of that mid-90s, ‘clear taillight’ flavour.
It sports 18-inch wheels, but going up an inch in size would fill the arches better because the body kit gives the car a very inflated presence near the ground, with its sculpted lip and angular rear skirt that houses the quad tailpipes.
A car like this shouldn’t be all show and no go, so there’s a 3.5-litre i-VTEC V6 engine on tap. Does the i-VTEC scream like a real VTEC should? Those expecting a VTEC howl and the ability to wrap it around to an 8000rpm redline will be disappointed — the Accord tops out at around 6800rpm, and judicious use of your right foot liberates a smooth V6 roar.
The engine has variable cylinder management and there’s a small green Eco notification in the instrumentation cluster to encourage you to use it by reminding you when you’re being a lead foot. For moderate cruising, deceleration and low engine loads just three cylinders operate, giving an effective engine capacity of 1.75l. Under mild-to-moderate acceleration, and mild gradients four of the cylinders work (two from each bank.) Only when you bury the throttle pedal into the carpet and require the all of the urge of the engine will it fire up the other two cylinders.
What this means is a fuel consumption figure more like that of a 2.4-litre four cylinder (like, for example, Honda’s CRV). At just 10l/100km, it saves approximately 17 per cent over the previous version.
The auto gearbox has a sport mode with paddles behind the steering wheel. 202kW and 339Nm is released from the six cylinders and sweeps you towards 100kph in an almost seamless seven-second surge of acceleration. Using the paddle shifters the enthusiastic driver can ensure the Accord is in the correct gear for exiting a corner, even while in D-mode. Move the gear lever to S-mode and it’s the paddles all the way.
Gear Logic is always assessing the conditions and attempts to match gears to the requirements of gradient, cornering and acceleration — for example, it will hold a lower gear while coasting downhill, and will attempt to anticipate when you need acceleration out of a corner. While this type of system will never be absolutely perfect, it’s better than nothing at all, and with the backup of the paddles, it makes for a more dynamic drive.
However, what slightly spoils the drive is the steering feel. The steering is so light it actually makes driving on rough roads harder — it means you have to have more control over your arms because slight bumps on the road can inadvertently cause you to steer. It is so light that it feels like the tyres have three times too much pressure in them and that you’re driving on wet grass.
Inside the Accord is comfortable, but this base model has velour seat fabric — best get the next model up as I would imagine that come trade-in time that the leather would be more desirable.
As well as the less-than-desirable fabric, there are no reversing sensors, but the rest of the interior is more than adequate. There’s a sizeable glovebox, a large central binnacle with removable tray, and other places to store items. Instrumentation is easy to read, and there’s a large screen in the centre of the dash that displays additional setup parameters and functions (though not that many additional functions). It’s a long car and that means lots of legroom for rear seat passengers.
All passengers can be immersed in music assisted by the subwoofer that gives a nice kick to the beat (in case you want to relive some of those ‘techno’ moments).
The boot floor isn’t flat — it tapers away in a channel towards the lockable ski hatch — stuff rolls down here and it’s the furthest away from the boot aperture. Short people would find it hard to reach far enough in without actually climbing into the boot.
It’s an executive sports car that’s missing some important features. There are some significant omissions in the spec department in VS trim therefore I would expect most purchasers would plump for the leather seats, xenon headlights and rain-sensing wipers that come with the VL and VN models for $57,000 or $60,000 respectively.
It’s the technology that’s more impressive, though, and perhaps that’s worth the money. With 15 years of automotive experience since my first hot Japanese car (a Subaru Legacy RS-RA), I can now look back with fond memories while I look to the future and all the engine technology that will gradually filter down to other models, with Honda leading the way.
Price: from $52,500
What we like
- Nice engine tone
Smooth and sleek
What we don’t like
- Steering is far too light
- Missing critical pieces of kit for a car at this price point (trip computer, leather seats), so with all that hidden engine technology, it’s could be perceived as a bit pricey
Honda Accord VS V6 Mugen Specifications
|Engine||3.5-litre 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC VCM|
|Maximum Power||202kW @ 6200rpm|
|Maximum Torque||340Nm @ 5000rpm|
|Transmission||5-speed automatic transmission with Gear Logic Control|
|Front Suspension||Double wishbone with stabiliser bar|
|Rear Suspension||Multi-link with stabiliser bar|
|Wheels||17″ x 7.5″ 7-spoke alloy wheels
(For VS, VS Sport, VL, VL Sport, VN and VN Sport)
18″ x 7.0″ 7-spoke alloy wheels
Full size spare alloy wheel under floor.
|Tyres||225/50 R17 (for 17″)
225/45 R18 (for 18″)
|Vehicle Stability System||Electronic Stability Control (VSA) incorporating Traction Control|
|Braking System||ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution)
Front-ventilated discs 300mm. Rear solid discs 282mm
|Overall Length (mm)||4945|
|Overall Width (mm)||1845|
|Overall Height (mm)||1475|
|Track – Front/Rear (mm)||1580/1580|
|Ground Clearance (mm)||146|
|Front head room (mm – 991 with sunroof)||1051|
|Front leg room (mm)||1079|
|Front shoulder room (mm)||1479|
|Front hip room (mm)||1438|
|Rear head room (mm)||978|
|Rear leg room (mm)||944|
|Rear shoulder room (mm)||1432|
|Rear hip room (mm)||1379|
|Interior width (mm)||1542|
(kg-VS/VL and VN)
|Boot Capacity (VDA litres)||450|
|Turning Circle (metres)||11.5|
|Maximum warrantable towing weight (kg)||1500|
|Tank Capacity (litres)||70 litre|
|Recommended Fuel||91 Octane fuel|
|Emissions Control||LEV II (Low Emission Vehicle) emissions control and Euro IV international standards|
|ADR 81/01 Combined Consumption||10.0 L/100kms|
|Optimal NZ drive test Auckland-Taupo-Auckland||7.5 L/100kms|
|Fuel Saver Infomation|
|Make and Model:||Honda Accord V6 / V6L / V6LN|
|Star Rating:||3½ stars out of 6|
Words and photos Darren Cottingham