Twin Test: 2013 Honda Accord vs 2012 VW Passat

It’s our pictorial face-off between a segment favourite and the German usurper

By Shahzad Sheikh

2013 Honda Accord vs 2012 Volkswagen Passat

We’ve reviewed the all-new 2013 Honda Accord saloon and coupe with both engines extensively (read hereand whilst it’s not a ground-breaker in any sense, it certainly stays in the game as one of the stalwarts of the segment. A good choice, a satisfying purchase and a reasonably decent drive.

However the four-cylinder version of the Accord is matched almost equally in terms of price and performance by a German car, the Volkswagen Passat – not the small and dowdy European version, but the all-new car that was designed specifically for the US, Far East and us here in the Middle East. It’s a much bigger proposition and great value.

We like it so much that after we tested it (read here) we even ran one on a long-term test for three months (read here).

But how do these two really stack up and which would we have?

Scroll down and click through these pictures to ready our pictorial twin-test, or read the text below –

Style Stakes

2012 VW Passat 2/5
The Passat has never been about style. It’s about solidity, functionaliy and practicality. And that’s what the design portrays. Nonetheless, it’s a handsome, if derivative car, with good proportions and inoffensive lines. It’s large too. Bigger than the AAccord. But visibility is good and it’s easy to place.

2013 Honda Accord 3/5
In isolation you’d be hard-pressed to recognise this is a new Accord, but stand it next to the previous version and you’ll notice the completely new front and rear styling, particularly the much bolder grille and smarter headlights, as well as the cleaner flanks, now free of the previous distinctive crease. It’s a handsome if less than radical rethink.

How they drive?

2013 Honda Accord 3/5
There was once a time when Accords used to be the sportiest saloons to drive this side of a BMW. That’s no longer the case. Having said that, compared to the Passat, the Honda feels lively, keen and eager. The steering is lighter and more responsive, it feels more agile and chuckable. Performance is reasonably punchy, it feels lighter on its feet and the gearbox, whilst only a five-speed, does a great job, although you end up paying a little more at the pumps. It cruises decently well too.

2012 Volkswagen Passat 2/5
Thanks to a meatier steering, the Passat feels the heavier, more cumbersome car, although the trade-off is the sensation of far more solidity and substance. Effortlessness is what VW was clearly going for here, and it succeeded, rather too well. I drove this for a three months, and still can’t recall what it was like! I will say that it felt planted and assured, and it’s definitely the better cruiser too. Despite a slower sprint pace, the smooth motor (ignore its less inspiring hum) feels lustier and stronger. It’s designed to get you from A to B with minimum fuss, and devour long distances.

Are we comfy?

2013 Honda Accord 3/5
As you’d expect from a Honda, the Accord is beautifully put together, superbly presented, well kitted out with an inviting cabin. Not sure why there’s two screens – one simply to operate the other – but otherwise ergonomics are good.

2012 Volkswagen Passat 4/5
The Volkswagen is simply a class above though. Just look at the space in the back! We’re talking limo-like levels of comfort and room here, and the masses of legroom, doesn’t rob booth space either. Quality feels top notch and unbreakable, controls are intuitive and all the tech is present.

The verdict

1st place: 2013 Honda Accord 4/5
2nd place: 2012 VW Passat 3.5/5

The Honda takes the spoils here, but only just, and only on the premise that it’s the slightly better car to drive. Frankly speaking if your priority is space and comfort than the result would be flipped right around the other way.

The Passat simply offers class-leading levels of roominess and it’s a wonder that it doesn’t usurp the Toyota Camry as the UAE’s favourite taxi, because pasengers would have no complaints in the back of this VW. Plus it’s inherent robustness and unquestioned durability should seal the deal.

VW has priced the Passat competi tively and it’s no longer out of reach of Japanese car owners. In fact it’s very closely matched to the Honda on price and performance, but ultimately the much-loved Accord has a loyal and credible following in our region.

It wins here because it looks better, drives better, feels more modern and appealing and will almost certainly holds its value better when it comes to resale time. It might be a long way from Hondas of yesteryer which were practical, reliable yet also a joy to drive, but the remnants of that legacy remain. It’s close though. Very close.

Let us know which one you would have below.

One response to “Twin Test: 2013 Honda Accord vs 2012 VW Passat”

  1. Rojy says:

    I own an accord (2.4 LX) from last 3 months , Here are my ownership experience up to now.

    Engine & gearbox are perfectly tailored for every day driving and you would not feel any lack of power with 4 Cylinder. It is very smooth and quiet in its operation , feels a class above. It is giving me a consistent mileage of 9~9.5L /100 Km in combined driving with lot city driving and idling.

    The ergonomics are perfect with excellent visibility and very comfortable over long distances But the tyre’ s have some noise on some roads But nothing to complain about.

    The ride and handling is again perfect in normal driving with sense of sportiness But not really sporty. The Steering is accurate & light with slight feedback & feel which makes the car really easy car to drive in city but lacks the connected feel at high speeds.

    The car is very well built with a premium feel but looks very outdated & boring already. The music system though looks hi tech is very basic and sounds average.

    Overall the car is very good But could have been better If the steering was much heavier and direct , Also they could have given some more gadgetry & better hardware’s like a 6 Speed Auto with Sport mode and paddle shifters.

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