Honda Siel Cars India is under considerable pressure to keep the brand alive and kicking in the eyes of the consumer. At one end the City is getting a bashing from the Volkswagen Vento, in the middle the Civic is being washed out by the Corolla Altis and at the premium end the CR-V is being overlooked for the BMW X1. And there's another very sore point that is causing several people within Honda to yank their hair out in frustration - the lack of diesel cars. In every segment the competition has both diesel and petrol options and everyone is exploiting that advantage to the fullest. Honda's petrol philosophy may have worked at a time when petrol was much cheaper. Today with prices hitting the roof (in Mumbai petrol is nearly 63 rupees for a litre compared to diesel which is around 42 rupees) diesel car sales are picking up like wildfire in every segment.
So when Honda invited us to drive a new Accord from Delhi to Agra and back, spend a night at one of the best hotel destinations in the world, the Oberoi Amarvilas which offers a magnificent view of the Taj Mahal from every room, you'd expect something as significant as a spanking diesel engine to change the fortunes of the Accord. Yes there is change, but it wasn't an oil burner. The change is so miniscule that quite frankly for the first time I'd have willingly spent more time staring aimlessly at the Taj Mahal, than do the roughly 400km drive from Delhi to Agra and back.
To be more specific there's a new bumper, a new grille, chrome garnish, a sunroof, cruise control er... controls on the steering wheel and some wood. That's the gist of all that's new in this car. Do I hear a loud resounding, WHAT? Yes, you heard me right. It's all cosmetic except for the cruise control but then who uses it in India?
The new bumper is sculpted at the base which gives the front a bit more definition, yet isn't spectacular enough to make you notice the difference between the previous bumper and the new one. The grille of course you may notice if you are a Honda fan, but it's lost the three-slat mould and there are now two slats only finished in chrome. It adds sophistication to the Accord's character but was needed as much as you'd need a set of chromed dentures. The sunroof is now standard fitment on all variants of the Accord. The rear tail lamps get chrome garnish which also looks like an aftermarket tuner shop job, in fact the whole new exterior design looks like someone
at Milan subway or Karol Bagh was called into design the changes. There isn't an inch on this car that you could not have done yourself and god forbid if the prices increase for these changes, since at the time of the drive Honda did not reveal by how much these changes would alter the pricing. Oh, and the V6 Accord gets a new set of alloy wheels.
Inside, there are some wood inserts to highlight the two-tone interiors and that's it. Those effectively are all the changes that herald the new Accord.
Honda is no longer taking one step at a time. It is literally crawling along like the tortoise in that famous race. Yet all the hares I know in that race aren't sleeping, so who's going to win? Well, the way things are, I'm not placing any bets on Honda.