Honda Motor Europe’s (HME) new Accord saloon, on sale early in 2003, will initially come with two- and 2.4-litre petrol engines and five- and six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions with diesel and estate car (station wagon) versions to follow.

Curtain airbags and dual zone climate control will be offered on all models and 2.4-litre versions will have vehicle stability assist.

Built in Japan, the Accord saloon sold in Europe will be similar to that on sale in Japan. The US market has a different Accord sedan built specifically in the US and tailored for the North American market. A similar model is also built in Thailand for Asia-Pacific markets including Australia and New Zealand.

HME says that, acknowledging Europe’s dominance in the sports sedan market, the new Accord’s ride and handling have been developed extensively within Europe “to create a package capable of competing in the international arena”.

The two all-aluminium DOHC i-VTEC engines of 2.0 and 2.4 litre capacity are matched to new five-speed and six-speed manual transmissions respectively or a five-speed automatic with sequential shift. Both engines are fully EU2005 emissions-compliant.

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The 155 PS (114 kW) two-litre engine delivers peak torque of 190 Nm at 4,500 rpm, and, a combined cycle consumption of 37.7 mpg (7.5 l/100 km) and CO2 emissions of 179 g/km matched to the five-speed transmission.

Maximum output of the 2.4 litre engine is 190 PS (140 kW) at 6,800 rpm, with torque of 220 Nm at 4,500 rpm. In combination with the new six-speed transmission, it is capable of returning 9.4 l/100km on the combined cycle. This engine also features an electronic or drive-by-wire (DBW) throttle.

While the wheelbase remains unchanged, overall dimensions are increased to give a more spacious cabin.

Improved specification includes rain sensitive wipers on some models, an optional DVD satellite navigation system with touch screen operation and CD/radio packages as standard throughout the range. All European Accords are now equipped with dual zone climate control air conditioning.

Front and side airbags are now complemented by curtain airbags.

The adoption of a floating front sub-frame significantly reduces the levels of noise and vibration reaching occupants.

The European-developed suspension uses double wishbone front and five-link double wishbone rear layouts, revised in a number of key areas.

The 2.4 litre models have VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist), designed to help the driver maintain control during cornering, acceleration and sudden collision-avoidance manoeuvres. All models are equipped with ABS, EBD and brake assist as standard.

Available at launch as a saloon only, the simplified line-up makes its public debut at the Paris Salon in September, with sales commencing in early 2003.

It will then be joined by a new estate model and, later in the year, the Accord range becomes the first to be offered with Honda’s all-new, in-house developed diesel engine.

The new Accord saloon is pitched firmly at the quality sector of the D-segment which accounted for 298,000 out of a total of 951,000 saloons sold in the five largest European markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK) during 2001. Diesel power accounted for 61% of the sector.

Honda sees the Accord competing with models from rivals such as Alfa Romeo, Audi, Saab and Volvo.