Hybrid cars are far and few in India. We saw the Honda Civic Hybrid launch in the country years ago, but it was somewhat of a premature launch considering that the Indian market wasn’t ready for a hybrid car back in 2008. Today, if you are looking to pick up a hybrid engine car you have the option of the Camry and Prius from Toyota, the Volvo XC90 SUV and few semi-hybrid cars like the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and Ciaz SHVS, and the Mahindra Scorpio Intelli-Hybrid. Then, you have the Honda Accord Hybrid. We spent some time with the Accord Hybrid, and the car does post a fairly impressive array of technology inside.
The infotainment package
MID and infotainment displays
Honda has essentially packed the MID into a 7.7-inch multi-colour LCD display above the touchscreen infotainment display, as the instrument cluster is used to show hybrid driving details. Called Intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID), it is synchronized to show additional trip and active details and actions, along with the camera on the left ORVM, and the unconventional positioning actually works quite well with how all the information is laid out in the car.
The separate display on the central dash also ensures that there is no overload of information on a single panel, which helps keep all operations neat and spaced out. As is the norm, you get to operate the MID from steering-mounted controls, and it may take a while for you to get used to the unconventional placement of it in the center of the dash.
The Honda i-MID includes LaneWatch, a blind spot camera that lets you see beyond the edge of the ORVM’s field of view. The LaneWatch display’s field-of-view is about 80 degrees, and automatically switches on as you hit the left indicator. You can also choose to switch it on manually. The camera kicks in when you give the left indicator but it can be manually activated from the right lever. This is particularly helpful during traffic jams and switching lanes on the highway. Apart from LaneWatch, you also get other statistical and active actions displayed on it, such as currently playing tracks, the standard dynamic reverse camera, a multi-setting tripmeter and date/time.
Coming to the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment panel, the feedback is smooth and accurate, in line with luxury offerings to the tune of the Land Rovers and Jaguars. The system runs on Android and has its own integrated sat-nav system. The comprehensive infotainment system also includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You can also connect your smartphone to provide internet connectivity to the central console and run the web browser to stream videos from YouTube, or read stories at your will. There is also an HDMI port in the car and supports smartphone playback via MHL.
While the presence of Android Auto gives you graphic and voice guidance with Google Maps, the integrated sat-nav on the Accord is fairly good, too. You can save locations such as Home and Work to aid easy usage. You also get points of interest stored locally, along with popular road destinations such as petrol pumps, malls, nearest Honda service centers and more, which is what you would expect from the present infotainment standards in cars.
For Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the setups are familiar, which you can read about in full detail here. Android Auto worked as it should, relaying Google Maps, call and message cards seamlessly. The number of apps that support music playback on Android Auto is still limited, but as long as you have locally stored music on your phone, there will be no issue.
The system also supports photo and video playback from USB drives, and a local voice command assistant that recognizes commands for the most part. Commands to reply to messages, play a particular radio station and make calls work well, and you also get support for Siri and OK Google.
The overall infotainment setup is fairly comprehensive, alongside offering intuitive responses and good backgrounds to emanate the extra touch of luxury. You get access to every operation you would require while driving, and the driving position coupled with the placement of the infotainment hub ensures that you keep your eye on the road for the most part.
In what you would notice the most, the Honda Accord Hybrid does not come with a tachometer. Instead, what you get is a tacho-like LED meter that tells you which mode you are driving in. The indications will shift from EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive, depending on the mode you are driving in. The speedometer is well lit, and looks really smart, befitting of a luxurious, ambient cabin.
The instrument cluster glows green when you are driving in a power efficient mode and blue when are driving with the engine turned on. This adds to the overall play of LEDs in the car, something that Honda seems to be focusing on of late. The instrument cluster has a graphic indicator to the left of the speedometer that shows when you are driving in power and when the battery gets charged with regenerative braking and Hybrid Drive modes.
You also get a monochrome tripmeter along with distance-to-empty and electric range. In place of the fuel gauge, the Honda Accord Hybrid also includes a charge gauge that indicates the amount of power in reserve. The entire LED play in the instrument cluster makes the Accord Hybrid look really jazzy, and that coupled with the infotainment display and the MID complete a car that is thoroughly tech-equipped in every aspect.
Thorough seat adjustments
One of the most annoying things about tall passengers sitting on the front seat is for rear seat passengers to persuade them to move the seat forward. The front passenger seat of the Accord Hybrid gets rear passenger control for recline and position, as you would get in most luxury saloons. While the rear legroom is plenty and you probably would not need to use it too often, this motivates for a fair amount of mischief.
You also get memory seats for you to choose and store your seat stance and position. This is particularly beneficial if more than one person drives the car, regularly. Apart from all this, you can also add an optional ambient lighting package on the Accord Hybrid for an even more luxurious appeal to plush interiors.
The Hybrid engine
The new Accord Hybrid’s i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) two-motor hybrid system can shift seamlessly between the three drive modes - EV Drive (fully electric motor), Hybrid Drive (electric motor and petrol engine driving the generator motor), and Engine Drive when you would want the extra dosage of power. With the battery fully charged, the engine starts in EV mode, and apart from the instrument cluster notification telling you that you are ready to set off, you would not even figure out that the car just started. Remain stationary and you will feel the car shift to hybrid drive. The reason why the MID has been relocated in the Accord Hybrid is to show you the powertrain with animated graphics on the instrument cluster. Here's how the Accord Hybrid drives in each of the three modes.
The all-electric EV Drive mode sets the Accord Hybrid rolling from stationary, drawing power from braking and working solely as an electric vehicle. You only get 2km range from the sole EV mode, and while the entire drive is noiseless and smooth, you will feel a slight sense of gliding, instead of direct power delivery.
In hybrid mode, the electric propulsion motor alone powers the front wheels. The engine powers the electric generator, which in turn powers the battery pack. This allows the engine and generator motor to supply power to the battery to propel the car ahead, and charge the battery while in low power. You would feel the lack in terms of direct power delivery, but Hybrid Drive offers a cleaner drive along with much higher mileage. On automatic shift, the Accord Hybrid shifts to Engine Drive as you accelerate hard, and alternatively, you can choose to stick to Hybrid Drive manually. In this mode, you will feel a slight lack in terms of the car's response, for which you will be required to shift to Sport, which in turn automatically shifts the car to Engine Drive.
The Engine Drive allows you to cruise at higher speeds, and offers a more responsive driving experience. You get more nimble-footed response from the car, albeit a hit in terms of the mileage.
Transmission shifts are smooth, and you do not really feel the gears switch or the drive modes shift. The overall in-car NVH is very refined, and you may often not notice the shift in power delivery unless you notice the instrument cluster.
Mileage, sensors and interiors
The Honda Accord Hybrid gives ARAI-rated 23.1kmpl overall mileage. During our drives, we easily got upward of 18kmpl in overall mileage, including highway and city drives. We drove the car on the Noida-greater Noida express way and in city traffic as well. The array of sensors to the front and rear ensure that you get a thorough, near-360 degree control in terms of proximity to aid safety, similar to what you get in the European luxury vehicles. Considering the bumper-to-bumper traffic we face in Delhi for most of the time, don’t be alarmed when some of the proximity sensors go off abruptly. It did make us jump more than once during the drive, and you will probably take some time to get used to it, too.
The interiors are plush and fit the car's stature well. Premium lining all around the Honda Accord Hybrid ensure that you actually feel the class of the car that you are sitting in, and this is further accentuated by the refinement of noise inside the cabin. You get a very quiet, comfortable ride, along with a sunroof if you're feeling more enthusiastic. The quality of materials also feel really premium, which fits the bearings of this sedan's class.
What we feel
The technology inside the Honda Accord Hybrid is fairly all-encompassing, and is something that we are quite impressed with. The interiors emanate luxury and are aimed at making you feel comfortable. The drive itself it very efficient, despite not being the most engaging for driving enthusiasts. The Accord Hybrid, though, is not intended for the ultimate driving fun. Being a CBU (completely built unit), the Honda Accord Hybrid costs Rs. 37 lac (ex-showroom Delhi), and to justify its pricing, offers a fair bit of jazz inside the cabin and under the hood.