By on October 27, 2014

1280px-2008-2011_Honda_Accord_Euro_sedan_(2011-06-15)_01

Acura’s decision to consolidate both the TL and TSX into a single replacement, did more than just deprive North American consumers of a Made In Japan, manual-equipped Acura sedan. It also helped spell the end of the European Honda Accord.

The “narrow body” Accord, sold in Europe, Australia and other world markets formed the basis for our TSX. But Honda has decided to cease production of their “large” (by world standards) sedan starting early next year.

In Canada and the United States, the Accord is a strong player in the mid-size sedan market. But in the rest of the world, it’s a bit player at best. In a region where cars like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Fiesta regularly top the sales charts, the Accord was fighting for relative scraps. And its competition, like the Ford Mondeo, Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat practically have the segment locked down in the all important corporate fleet arena, where most of these large cars are purchased, due to the tax savings generated by a company car, rather than buying one for personal use.

Honda won’t be replacing the Accord with another version, but given the way things are going for Europe’s car market, that may not be a bad thing. Crossovers are eating into everything from sedans to compact hatchbacks to station wagons. Better to devote resources to marketing the CR-V and the upcoming HR-V than a minor player in a shrinking segment.

 

 

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48 Comments on “Editorial: Accord A Canary In the Coal Mine For Europe’s Large Car Segment...”


  • avatar
    caltemus

    That’s a shame. I had the pleasure of driving a first gen TSX from PA to CT on a fireworks run, and that was one of my favorite driving experiences. That car could cruise at 110 effortlessly all day. The steering feel and throttle response made me forever want an Acura in my life. I don’t see any other car’s in Honda’s lineup that feel like that.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You enjoy lumpant heavy steering which jerks the wheel back to center after every turn?

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Lumpent heavy steering? Man up and grab a barbell occasionally, brah. I’m not going to say the steering is perfect (Honda electronic steering is pretty lifeless) but my little blonde wife has no problem driving our TSX.

        It is odd that in Europe, Honda is the “blue haired” brand, and in the US it has/had? such a youthful reputation.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I didn’t say it was hard to drive, or that I couldn’t gather the strength to turn the wheel. (BTW, 2010 TSX is what I drove)

          It felt just very unnatural and artificially heavy. When I let the wheel slide through my hand after a turn it should gradually return to center in a smooth motion. That thing felt like there was someone reaching through the window yanking it back.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        “lumpant heavy steering which jerks the wheel back to center after every turn”

        *JOY* Like da olt dayss, no?

        I need to check this out.

        Edit: Oh, hell, it’s just a little squishy blob sedan… I thought the X meant crossover.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        You guys are talking about different cars. The second generation began with the 2009 model year.

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      For me it was the other way around. When Honda replaced the awesome high-revving great-handling Integra sedan with that Eurotrashy TSX I realized I don’t want to buy another Honda. And I had 2 in a row (Accord, Integra) at the time spanning 12 years of ownership. Since I traded in my Integra I haven’t touched anything Honda makes and the way they’re currently going – they won’t make it back on the list anytime soon.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “When Honda replaced the awesome high-revving great-handling Integra sedan with that Eurotrashy TSX I realized I don’t want to buy another Honda.”

        Based on the sales of Integra sedans vs. TSXs, that viewpoint places you in a tiny minority, petulent bitching notwithstanding.

      • 0 avatar
        Preludacris

        I see your point, but RSX was the replacement for Integra.
        It was badged as Honda Integra in some markets and was based on the Civic, just like the Integra always was.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Honda could simply import the USDM Accord or TL as they are doing for the Japanese market. If they choose not to, that’s their choice. There is no need for any R&D in this case.

    http://www.honda.co.jp/auto-lineup/?from=pulldown

  • avatar
    Marko

    Did anyone else read that as “CAMRY In the Coal Mine”?

  • avatar
    Aquineas

    Note that Honda markets both Accords in Australia, not just the European one.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Shame as the Euro Accord has always been a real driver’s car since it deviated from the American Accord in 1997.

    But really, the C-segment cars have grown into the space once occupied by the likes of the Accord. A Focus is about as big inside as a ~10-15 year old Mondeo. A Civic is literally as big inside as a ~15 year old Accord. Etc. C-segment cars have made the Accord segment redundant… crossovers have just been another nail in the coffin.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The impression I got from Top Gear was that the Accord was always priced higher than the rest of the competitors in the segment, and had an “old people” image, and that’s why it didn’t sell well (at least in the UK).

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      The Euro Accord certainly didn’t seem like good value for money in a hyper-competitive segment. The mid-size segment in Europe has almost all the same players as we get in the US (minus the Malibu and a few others), plus they get Renault, Citroen, Peugeot, Alfa, Skoda, Seat, and entry-level German options: de-optioned BMWs with tiny engines for the price of a Passat.

      There’s not much room left for a not-too-exciting Honda with very few dealerships, no outstanding features, and probably no competitive diesel.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In Europe, these are cross-shopped against Audis and BMWs. That’s a bit of a tough slog, especially for someone who is using a subsidized lease (which is a lot of the customer base.)

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In Europe, cars like this are cross-shopped against Audis and BMWs. Particularly for those who are on a subsidized lease (which is a lot of the customer base), the German cars are more appealing.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Another reason for Accord problems is the EU18 household debt to income average of 98 percent.
    They are broke.
    Spendthrift USA is 90 percent.

  • avatar
    Occam

    Can someone catch me up on which Acura is which?

    ILX, RSX, CSX = Integra
    TSX = Between Integra/Vigor
    TLX or TLX = Vigor
    RL or RLX = Legend

    MDX and RDX are rebadged Pilot and CR-V.

    Is that about right? So they’re merging the Vigor and slightly smaller Vigor?

    In other news, when do the Rolls Royce Phantom and Bugatti Veyron become the PHX and VRX? That is the touchstone of luxury, right?

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      My old Legend, which was a freaking bank vault of a car, was smaller than the current TL. I’d say the RL is simply the RL, a new, larger car added later. The TL replaced the Legend. Nothing else really matches up to the original offerings.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Technically the RL is the JDM and Japanese assembled Honda Legend and the TL was simply the UDSM Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        cirats

        I don’t know – I like Occam’s parallels better and think he hit the nail on the head. You can’t just go by relative size because nearly all manufacturer’s cars have gotten bigger across all model lines since the 90s. As someone noted above, today’s Civic is bigger than yesterday’s Accord.

        The Legend (and I had one myself for 6-7 years) was always Acura’s flagship model and the model targeted at the most mature buyers (of which I was not one, BTW), which is the main reason I think the RL replaced it.

        FWIW, Wikipedia agrees: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura#Timeline
        Excerpt: “1996: The CL is introduced as a 1997 model. The Legend is replaced by the RL and the Vigor is replaced by the TL.”

        I will say I quit keeping up a few years ago and now can’t keep ILX, CSX, TLX, etc., straight at all and frankly don’t care. But if they ever introduce a new car called Legend, my curiosity will be seriously piqued . . .

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    Another good reason to dislike crossovers. They’re utter rubbish, but at least until now it’s been possible to buy a proper car. But now that crossovers have started to displace vehicles in traditional segments, we will eventually only be left with variations of utter rubbish in the marketplace.

  • avatar
    Vojta Dobeš

    I don’t see it as a sign of some “weakness” in the segment. The Accord never really sold, although it’s one of the best cars in the segment in my opinion, maybe even better than Mondeo. Maybe it’s because Europeans don’t buy Japanese, maybe it was the price, but you just don’t see these on the streets.

    On the other hand, Passats, Mondeos and Insignias are everywhere and even the current crop of big French sedans (Laguna, 508s, C5s) is fairly common.

    What’s mildly surprising is relatively large number of Mazda6s on the streets – although I have never looked up their sales numbers.

    I think large sedans sales may shrink a little bit because of crossovers, but they are certainly not going to get wiped out by them – and we won’t even see anything like in the US with crossovers anywhere.

    There are several reasons for that:
    1) In Europe, crossover, SUV or even a sub-3,500kg truck are considered “passenger cars” for legal purposes. And with new CAFE-like regulations, the manufacturers have no incentive to push crossovers/SUVs instead of cars, since they get worse fuel economy and are counted in the same lump as cars.
    2) Roads. European roads are narrower and windier. And in many countries, the traffic is faster. Result? People are more sensitive about their high crossover heaving into the corners and being uncomfortable to drive on windy roads.
    3) Traditions. In Europe, wagons never fell out of fashion. SUVs were “cool” for some time, but now they are quickly getting the image of “mommy-mobiles”. To drive a Ford Kuga, Volvo XC90 or even BMW X5 is not considered “manly”. Men still drive sedans/hatchbacks/wagons.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      In the US, the Accord is a top seller, and HMC has about 9% market share.

      In Europe, Honda has about 1% market share and the Accord is nowhere near the top of the charts.

      It’s a very different market. Honda Accords are a benchmark vehicle in the US, slotted below the 3-series. In Europe, the Accord needs to compete more closely against the 3-series, A4 and C-class, and most company car lessees have little reason to switch.

      • 0 avatar
        Vojta Dobeš

        Accord didn’t compete with 3 series directly – none more so than the Mondeo or Passat. These mainstream sedans overlap with executive cars like 3-series, A4 or C-class as well. For the price of well-equipped, well-engined Mondeo or Passat, you can get a stripper 318d.

        The Accord’s problem was that couldn’t compete with Mondeo/Passat, and was too expensive to compete with C5/Laguna/Insignia…

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          There is more overlap in Europe in this segment than in the US. In Europe, the 3-series is among the top 15 cars sold, and moves in higher volumes than family sedans such as the Mondeo or Passat.

          In the US, the BMW is much further down the list, and the most popular family sedans move in much higher numbers. Not at all similar; the BMW is a niche car here, while the family sedans are ranked similarly to the compacts in Europe.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          The Accord if it was even trying to compete, would compete with a 5-series,( except for the last generation which actually got smaller), at least on interior space and comfort. Even the Civic has usually been more spacious than a 3-series.

      • 0 avatar
        Vojta Dobeš

        … also, the European Accord has nothing in common with American one.

  • avatar
    wmba

    It’s not like some people, myself included, haven’t commented over and over about Honda’s failure in Europe.

    Overly high prices, wacko styling, cheap interiors, consolidation from Family-owned dealerships to modern gothic glass gin palaces and only one USP – reliability. It’s not enough, so Honda is floundering about like a beached whale, er, porpoise. They have only one diesel, now just 1.6l. The same brainpower that gave us the Acura beak for ever, knows only one way to make cars, and if Europeans don’t buy Hondas, well Honda figures that’s not because of the company’s attitude. Like VW in North America, but actually worse.

    The CRV sells reasonably well, although every review over there regards its looks as odd. It has always looked like an automotive warthog to me – only familiarity tames its crude looks for me in North America. As the Brits would have said decades ago: Lord love a duck – look at it! Nissan Rogue (Qashqai) outsells it five to one over there.

    Does Honda ever change? No, the executives wear blinders fashioned of the finest plump pleather, and are effectively rendered insensate. Which apparently is how they like it – why else do they continue to blunder around?

    • 0 avatar
      kablamo

      Sounds like Honda in Europe (like VW in America) fundamentally misunderstands what people want.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Europeans effectively used trade barriers to slow the advance of the Japanese. (They saw what was happening in the US during the 70s, and did not wish to replicate the American experience.)

      The US also had more favorable regulations for distribution; in comparison, their ability to establish retail outlets in Europe was constrained.

      Those factors have made it tough for the Japanese. They were behind the curve, lost the benefit of the exchange rate advantage that they had during the 70s, and then never quite figured out what the Europeans wanted, anyway. The Germans have since transformed themselves into the benchmark, and they will be hard to dethrone.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      The Quashqai annihilates the CRV on price because it’s a lot smaller and has smaller engines. The X-trail would be the logical competitior to the CRV (and the old one was, once)

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Accord lost popularity in home market long time ago when mainstream switched to minivans such as stepwgn and odyssey.
    Current only offering of Accord in Japan is an insane 5 million yen PHEV based on US chassis, I’ve never witnessed it on the road yet.
    When it is an abandoned name plate in Japan, there is no incentive to design one for Europe where it was never popular.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i found this to be a conundrum that doesnt make sense in the end

    here’s a car that weighs 3,500lb with a 2.4 four that uses premium that isnt all that quick and doesnt have all that much room inside… i felt my head was way too close to the pillars

    so it is a big more stylish than a camry but didnt amount to nought if it doesnt make a compelling argument

    i think the mazda 6 or even mazda 3 sedan makes a more sensible choice

    hell, the mazda 3 even has a larger engine with more power torque on lower grade gasoline and pretty much the same effective space inside

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I think the Mazda 6 was probably the closest competitor to the Accord here in Europe. Both were not really big, but had some style instead, unlike the Toyota or Mitsubishi counterparts. Mazda has more engine choices that make sense in Europe though, and were cheaper.
      Honda could have used smaller diesel engine earlier, as there was technically no ‘entry level’ Accord for the last two generations.
      If one compares to the level of equipment and engines that make up most car sales, a ‘base model’ Accord would be competitive on price against most other cars with similar equipment.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        There were drivetrain options on the 6 in Europe too. I know they got AWD optional.

        Something which I feel they should have DEFINITELY brought to the US.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          Yes, you could spec up a 6 to be a real ‘Accord-killer’ and they actually did sell a couple of the Awd version. But most of the cars were specced lower than it was possible to spec the Accord. In general Honda doesn’t seem to like having a lot of available options (on either side of the Atlantic) which probably hurt their sales a lot here in Europe.

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    Bland is beautiful, esp, when it goes forever. It’s hard to love an old German car, except if its a pre-1995 Mercedes Benz (some say pre-1990).

    I have a buddy here who drives a 2011 S4. It’s a superior car, but in a lot of ways, he still misses his first generation TSX. He’s financed it and now is of the opinion that was a bad move.

    Talking to me doesn’t help esp. when I tell him that Audi planned obsolescence happens when the warranty expires. Like, right on the dot.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Honda in Europe is a lot like Acura in the US. I think if Honda were willing to really try and understand the European market, it would also be of tremendous help to Acura.
    Except for maybe the CRV and Civic, no one cross-shops a Honda against anything else, at least in Norway.
    The Accord was too expensive and too impactical to compete with midsizers like the Mondeo, Avensis or Passat, and as it has no badge it couldn’t compete with Audis or BMW’s.
    The CRV is too large to compete on price against the Quasquai or XV, and lacking a 7 seat configuration it can’t compete with the Outlander or it’s french sisters.
    I hope the HRV will make a killing in the compact CUV market when it comes out. Some people are starting too notice the practicality and economy of the Civic, but Honda doesn’t market their cars enough, and people seem to prefer paying extra for soft-touch interiors and soundproofing rather than paying extra for reliability.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Sad but no surprise. The current Accord is too expensive and old. The Europeans prefer European car brands with eurostyle and poor reliability.

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