It's special because of precisely two things: the silky smooth matte paint covering the Accord's sleek exterior, and the blistering performance under the hood and behind the wheels. The first was achieved through painstaking care and meticulous process in the paint-booth, resulting in one of the best matte paint finishes you'll find in Dhaka, while the performance front was handled by the SOHC VTEC F20B engine and the K-Sport coilover suspension system.
The engine sounds tame enough on paper: 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder, single cam, low emissions with about 160 hp. Saidi's Torneo is bone stock, and with a new F20B engine transplanted just the night before our test ride, combined with the 4 speed automatic gearbox, we weren't expecting much.
“Three of the four VTEC sensors are missing. I don't know how well the engine will perform, but let's see”, said Saidi just before stomping on the throttle. On the road, as we found out, the thing is an absolute beast: the rev dial turned into a blur as the engine hit the 5200 RPM VTEC sweet spot, and the Accord was heading with absolute ease towards 150 km/h. Weaving in and out of traffic with zero body roll, the Accord seemed like it would show established sports cars a thing or two about control. That's largely thanks to the super stiff K-Sport coilovers however, the only performance modification on the car at the moment. The brakes were barely tested, with the owner taking turns at 120 km/h without braking once, and giving the three other occupants the scare of their lives by making the Accord lift a wheel while coming off a sweeping flyover, wheels screeching and hearts racing. This is the stuff you see veteran drivers do with hot hatches on TV shows. Living it is so much better than seeing it on TV.
When I express my surprise at the relative ease with which the lowered and slightly cambered Accord goes over bumps and potholes on the road, Saidi says it's all about the suspension tweaking. “The coilovers don't make life difficult at all, if the settings are tuned properly; the ride quality isn't compromised even on the worst roads in Dhaka.”
It helps to have access to an army of trained people to wrench on the car and set it up perfectly, of course. Saidi is the founder and owner of Rahmania Auto Works (RAW), a garage which gained recent fame for the quality of the work they do. Their wash and polish routine might be famous, but as evidenced by the quality of the work done on the Torneo, they know their way around the mechanical bits just as well. Lying in a corner of the RAW workshop is a DOHC VTEC F20B, the beefier, much more powerful brother of the SOHC F20B. Saidi wanted to put that into the Torneo, but decided to go with the more manageable SOHC engine. If he ever wants a 230+ hp rocket ride, he has that option.
We thought the paint was the special feature on this ride. Saidi tells us that the misconceptions about maintaining matte paint are mostly wrong. If you want a matte painted car of your own, all you need to do is buy a bunch of special microfiber rub-cloths, costing about 300 taka a piece and good for about 3 months or so. It's the painting process that matters, and it can be expensive because of the excess liters of paint required. RAW will charge about a lakh for matte painting a sedan, and stocks the microfiber rub-cloth.
Our photographer foaming at the mouth on the ride home sums up the effect this car would have on people: "Demure and restrained, other than the evil matte black paint and those flared wheel arches, people wouldn't really expect it to be this much fun or this fast."
We're absolutely in love.