Honda is presumably well on its way into the development of the next-generation Accord. The ninth-generation model has been with us since 2013, but despite its relative youth, an all-new replacement is expected to surface next year. That said, the company seems to have its sights set on improving the still-fresh Civic first.
As an early preview to some of the goodies the world can expect to see when that does break cover, the rather fetching matte black car we see here is a test mule called ‘Dynamic Study’, shown for press sampling at the 2017 Honda Meeting in Japan, according to Car Watch.
Expectedly, Honda is pushing their turbocharged engines to their more upmarket sedan as it has already infiltrated their popular and (kind of) large SUV, the CR-V. The unit in the next Accord is expected to deliver somewhere close 147kW, but the real story lies with its transmission, though it could debut in an updated Civic first. Apparently, Honda has ditched its continuously variable transmission (CVT) and instead mated the VTEC Turbo engine to an 8-speed dual-clutch.
The Japanese automaker has had experience with this type of transmission, fitting dry-clutch examples to many of their motorcycles. But more relevant is the dual-clutch unit used in their TLX, a semi-premium mid-size sedan (comparable to the Accord) sold in North America by Honda sub-brand Acura.
The gearbox is unique in that it combines the fast shifting and excellent fuel economy characteristic of dual-clutch transmissions, but employs an innovative solution to circumvent some of its inherent downfalls, such as jerky slow-speed crawling and launches under low to partial throttle.
Basically, they merge the dual-clutch with a more traditional torque converter automatic, with the latter making sure low speed driving is kept smooth while the former provides the quick shifts up and down expected of its design. They operate in parallel with the handing off of power happening nearly imperceptibly.
This setup negates the need for a costly dual mass flywheel while providing benefits to NVH levels (noise, vibration, and harshness) in terms of improved low-speed refinement. Surprisingly, Acura says that the addition of the torque converter also improves acceleration. Power delivery is improved by 15 percent and fuel efficiency is up by 8 percent, all in a package that is roughly the size of a 5-speed torque converter automatic despite squeezing in 8 forward ratios and a secondary transmission.
In addition to the novel gearbox, the Dynamic Study has had chassis upgrades to improve torsional rigidity and overall responsiveness, the body is made to be 14 percent more aerodynamic, features new steering and brake calibrations, and both the front and rear suspension operate on revised compression geometry.
P/S: How does a test mule look so much better than the showroom model? Honda, please ditch the Civic sedan’s busy wheels, offer larger 18-inch alloys but with a subdued design and start giving us the option of paying more for a dark matte finish.