Honda Accord

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Honda Accord

Honda believes its new Accord is so good that it will help propel the brand upmarket and take on the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

To that aim, the car is wider and lower than the previous model. This is intended to improve handling and ride comfort, as well as portray a sportier image to potential buyers.

The Accord will be the first car to be sold with Honda's new 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine. It offers 10bhp more than the engine it replaces but has lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Buyers will also be able to choose between two petrol engines: a 154bhp 2.0-litre and a 197bhp 2.4-litre unit.

All three engines are sold with six-speed gearboxes, although petrol buyers have the option of a five-speed automatic gearbox. An automatic gearbox will be available for diesel buyers from early 2009.

Standard safety equipment includes stability control and a system called Motion Adaptive EPS, which senses vehicle instability in slippery conditions and moves the steering wheel to correct any slides.

Trailer Stability Assist is also available. This system cuts in to slow the car and trailer if any snaking occurs.

Options also include a system that warns the driver if he or she is too close to the car ahead by using a series of alarms, tugging on the seatbelt and then automatic braking. A lane-assist system, which warns if you stray inadvertently to a neighbouring lane, is also optional.

So how far upmarket will the Accords appeal stretch? Buyers will have the chance to vote with their chequebooks on that when the car goes on sale this summer. Estimates suggest that prices will begin at 18,500.