It's a significantly bigger car that effectively replaces the current Accord and Legend in the Honda line-up competing for upmarket customers. Sales are modest, with a UK target of 6000 next year - less than one-third of its predecessor's 20,000 peak in 1999.
“The new Accord will herald a massive purchasing shift towards high-end models when sales start next spring,” said James Daulton, head of corporate sales. “It is not intended to compete in the mass market. We are limiting our initial supply to ensure that early adopters enjoy exclusivity and strong residual values in the future.”
The new car will be built in Japan, bringing to an end Honda's original strategy for Europe that saw Swindon produce Accords for European markets.
But Honda has not ruled out the possibility of building future Accords in the UK. The saloon version, on sale in March, will be outsold by the estate derivative, which is to be launched two months later.
The move upmarket is an ambitious strategy for the Accord, putting it in competition with Saab, Volvo, Mercedes and BMW. A diesel option will not arrive until early 2004, while Honda is also developing CO2 efficient 2.0-litre S (169g/km) and SE (179g/km) variants for the UK's company car tax system.