By Alex Kramer
- Wonderfully responsive engine and transmission
- Nicely balanced suspension
- Luxurious and roomy interior
- Aggressive, yet sophisticated design
- Hard to use navigation system
- Cluttered dashboard
- Could use more road noise insulation
Over the past 32 years, the Honda Accord has been a benchmark in the automotive industry. Loved by both critics and consumers alike, the Accord is the rare car that is a both a perennial bestseller and annual top-ten list contender. As the standard bearer of the Honda lineup, the Accord has always personified the reliability and refinement that Honda is known for. Yet for all its success, the one thing the Accord has lacked is a more spirited and daring personality. Those looking for a rip roaring ride or striking visual appeal have had to look elsewhere. Until now.
With the 8th generation Accord Coupe, Honda has applied its engineering prowess to create a statement in design and performance. No longer just reliable transportation with Japanese quality, the new Accord could give many a German sports sedan a run for its money on the track. And forget about losing this coupe in a parking lot full of dull, uninspiring passenger cars. Combining a bold, aggressive profile with sleek, sophisticated lines, the Accord Coupe finally has the looks to match its stellar reputation.
The Accord Coupe comes with a variety of powertrain options, including a choice of 4 or 6 cylinder engines, with automatic and manual transmissions available for each. Although Honda builds some of the best 4 cylinder engines in the business, we were glad to see our test car come equipped with a 3.5 L V6 engine mated to a 6 speed manual transmission. This marvelous engine makes 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, and turns the Accord into a genuine sports coupe, with the acceleration numbers to prove it. According to Motortrend, 60 mph is achieved in 5.7 seconds and the quarter mile takes just 14 seconds to dispatch. These are impressive numbers, especially for a car that starts at well under $30,000.
What differentiates the Accord Coupe from other mid-priced barnstormers is the ease and refinement with which all this speed is achieved. Drop the throttle, work your way through the gears, and you’ll swear you’re in a much more expensive machine. The 6-speed manual transmission is a pleasure to use, with slick yet well-defined lever throws and smooth clutch engagement. The gear ratios are perfectly spaced, providing optimal shift points that leave no major gaps in the power band. As with other powerful front-wheel drive cars, there’s almost too much thrust for the front tires to handle when launching in first gear, but the traction control system keeps excessive wheel spin in check and torque steer is surprisingly manageable. Once up to speed, the V6 pulls with authority, making passing maneuvers almost effortless, even in 6th gear.
Like a true Grand Touring car, the Accord Coupe feels most at home when going flat out on the open highway. The suspension strikes a perfect balance between being too supple or firm, which combined with a relatively long wheelbase gives the Accord exceptional poise and stability. Push the car over 100 mph and it still feels like you’re milling around at 65, even when abruptly changing lanes or snaking through a series of high-speed sweepers.
When the asphalt turns tight and twisty the Accord Coupe remains nicely composed, and attacks the corners with confidence. The combination of front-wheel drive, a forward weight bias, and all-season tires means that understeer will show up when cornering hard, but the Accord manages to wring a surprising amount of grip out of its low-profile Michelins. To top it off, steering response is outstanding, with exceptional turn-in precision, and the brakes have ample power and excellent modulation.
As can be expected from a Honda product, the Accord Coupe is solidly built, featuring quality workmanship and materials both inside and out. Fit and finish isn’t quite up to luxury car standards, but doesn’t disappoint for a car aimed squarely at the middle of the price spectrum. Road noise is a bit on the high side, which could be due to the low-profile tires or a lack of insulation material. Driving over certain pavement surfaces generated an almost deafening roar, which is very unbecoming for such an otherwise civilized automobile. For those concerned about safety, the Accord does not disappoint, with all models featuring a full complement of airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control.
Like its more upscale siblings over at Acura, the Accord’s interior combines a modern high-tech look with luxurious materials and quality workmanship. The seats are upholstered in chic black leather and strike an excellent balance between comfort and support. For a car that doesn’t explicitly fall within the luxury segment of the market, the Accord Coupe pampers quite a bit, with dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, premium audio system with 6-disc in-dash cd changer and satellite radio, leather steering wheel with audio controls, and a power moonroof.
All models of the new Accord have grown in size, which becomes very obvious the moment you slide inside the new coupe. Interior room is outstanding, with plenty of head and legroom, even in the backseat. The trunk is also quite large, although the rear strut towers make for a very narrow pass-through space between the trunk and rear seat, which makes transporting larger objects, such as a bicycle, quite difficult.
As much as the interior of the new Accord is nicely appointed and generally well executed, Honda still can’t get it right when it comes to the layout of the dash or the functionality of the electronics. Like several Acura products that CarReview has tested in the past year, the dashboard is cluttered, with the controls for the navigation, audio, and climate control systems thrown together in a less than intuitive layout. Something as simple as changing from satellite radio to CD required way too much time and effort to figure out. The navigation system is equally obtuse, forgoing a user-friendly touch screen for a joystick-style controller that is anything but easy to use. The voice recognition system did sort-of work, although not consistently enough to be much help.
If the new Accord Sedan is the stylish but responsible adult of the family, then the Coupe is definitely the knockout younger sibling. With no sheet metal shared between the two, Honda has finally been able to cut loose and offer a coupe with striking visual appeal. The exterior does seem to borrow some design elements from Infinity and Mercedes, including its overall tear drop shape and the sleek parallel lines that define the sides of the car. Yet, the front and rear are quite unique, with an aggressive nose and nicely tucked rear-end, and the overall package is truly fresh, bold, and sophisticated. The stylishness is further accentuated by a tasteful amount of chrome trim, including the door handles, wraparound window trim, and front grill.
Value / Who Should Buy It
With the new Accord Coupe, Honda has turned what was merely a slightly sporty, two-door version of its best-selling sedan into a true high-performance automobile that compares with the best Europe and Japan have to offer. With an msrp of just over $30,000, a fully loaded Accord Coupe has very little direct competition and should be at the top of the list for anyone looking to buy a mid-priced sports coupe. To get the same performance in a Lexus or BMW you’d have to spend at least $5,000 more, and compared to more equivalently priced coupes such as the Solara or G6, the Accord simply blows the doors off of them when it comes to performance and style. And in true Honda fashion, the gas mileage is even quite respectable, with 21 mpg easily obtainable, even when driving hard.
We have more expert reviews of the Honda Accord:
Read the full review of the all-new 2008 Honda Accord Sedan by Holly R.
>> See all of the Honda Accord pictures in our photo gallery
>> Read more Honda Civic Accord reviews submitted by the CarReview.com community
>> Official website for Honda cars, minivans, trucks, crossover utility vehicles, and hybrids: American Honda Motor Co.