The all-new Honda Accord has been revealed and aims to take the Japanese carmaker into direct fleet competition with premium manufacturers BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
Due to be officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next month, the latest incarnation of Honda’s fleet favourite is an evolution of the existing model, focusing on a sporty look and driver involvement.
Although wider and lower and with sharper lines than the current Accord, the new model is recognisably influenced by the looks of its predecessor – a fleet favourite with sales up 15% in 2007 despite a decline in the upper- medium sector.
“This is the car that will spearhead us into the premium position that we’re aiming for,” said Graham Avent, manager of corporate operations.
“It’s the premium brands that are growing, which is why it’s critical that we attain that position.
"The company car drivers we’re trying to win over want car park appeal, visual cues that say they’ve got a sporty car such as the Audi S line or the BMW M Sport.”
The Accord will feature advanced technology such as adaptive cruise control seen in Honda’s flagship Legend.
Honda is promising low emissions and good fuel economy from a range of engines that will all be Euro V compliant, including an all-new 148bhp i-DTEC diesel engine which will have an automatic gearbox option early in 2009.
Handling has been developed using the BMW 3 Series as a benchmark. More response and greater body rigidity is promised.
The estate version – known as the Tourer – is likely to be a key element of the Accord line-up.
“We believe it’s going to be a growth opportunity in the UK,” Mr Avent said. “I think there will be a trend of people coming out of 4x4s and other models back into an upper-medium estate.
“We’re aiming at the corporate head office senior managers, the kind of person influencing the fleet policy.
"As a brand we’re defined by our upper-medium sector car and that’s why the new Accord is critical.”