In a recently competitive market, Honda now has upped the ante for executive sedans with the launch of the eighth generation Honda Accord.

Held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, the launch was held at the hotel's Harbour Garden to emphasize its saloon heritage and a newfound harmonious balance between performance and luxury. "The current Accord provides all the fundamental qualities expected of a sedan. However, compared to some competitors, we wanted to strengthen its character. We added the luxury aspect on its sporty character, thus making it more powerful and advanced than previous models," said Honda Research and Development Co., Ltd. chief engineer (large project leader, Honda Accord) Chitoshi Yokota.

The exterior retains the three-box shape (engine bay, cabin, trunk) of its predecessor, but with more distinction and road presence. A thicker nose pays homage of sorts to the current Mercedes Benz C-Class, with a forward extension that is more taut than subtle.

Inside, the cabin's upper area was designed to exude a rounded, 3-D effect for a compact and sporty look. Floor height was lowered by 15 mm to accommodate people with bigger lower extremities and allows for a dynamic, more flowing exterior design. All performance gauge clusters are at the same height as the speedometer for reduced eye movement, giving the driver the chance to focus more on the road. The audio entertainment is MP3-ready, and includes a center console-mounted USB jack for external MP3 player use.

Two engine flavors come with the new Accord – a 3.5L V6 and a 2.4L inline four-cylinder. Both come with five-speed a/t's (with manual mode and shift hold) and front-wheel drive, and retains the i-VTEC engine management system that delivers a better balance between power when you need it and fuel efficiency.

But it is the 3.5L V6's engine that is of interest to the technophile, as the V6 totes Honda's new Variable Cylinder Management 643 (VCM 643) partial cylinder deactivation. This allows the engine to shift smoothly from using six cylinders, down to four and then to three cylinders, depending on driver need. The result, coupled with drive-by-wire technology, is enhanced fuel economy.

Not to be left out is the sedan's steering and handling. A new Variable Gear Ratio steering system lets the Accord achieve superb maneuverability with less effort from the driver, resulting in strong steering feedback at all speeds. The engine and fuel tank were lowered to improve cornering, and the new frame design has 20 percent better torsional rigidity for minimal chassis flex.

The Accord has always been a market favorite due to providing potential buyers with the discriminating tastes that they need. But with the launch of the eighth-gen Accord shows that the performance and luxury aspects of the car have gotten ever-so-closer, striking a 50-50 distribution of driving fun and posh auto relaxation.

Pricetag for the new Accord is set at Php1.645M for the 2.4-liter A/T variant, while the top-spec 3.5-liter V6 A/T variant is priced at Php1.995M.