The cars we loved.
The Honda Accord was probably best known as a solid, dependable appliance. Most Accords have been about as exciting as a lawnmower or a generator (Honda builds the some of the best of both). A few interesting exceptions like the 3rd (86’-89’) and 5th (94’-97) generations have introduced a bit of excitement in what is otherwise a bland style portfolio. The Accord, true to its namesake, sought to create harmony between driver and car not through performance, but through exceptional engineering and efficiency. The Accord has always been front wheel drive (in North America atleast) and four cylinder powered until 1995 when a V6 option appeared.
The coupe versions of the Accord offered no reprise from that mission and were visually no different from the sedans (except for two less doors). The fact that there’s always been an Accord Coupe from the beginning might suggest that it was intended to oppose the sedans safe harmonious styling approach. The very first Accord in 1976 was a coupe that was about the size of today’s Civic. It was introduced before the sedan and stationwagon.
For the longest time the Accord coupe stood in the shadow of the Prelude, once Honda’s top GT car. With the Preludes demise, the Accord coupe was positioned to potentially be the new sporty grown up car for Honda. It was not until 2008 that the eighth generation Accord took a step in this direction, becoming a spirtual successor to the Prelude. 2008 marked the year that onlookers took a double take and wondered if that was an Accord? The new bold look was unlike any Accord before it. A big front overhand highlighted an aggressive grille and a raked profile that made the new coupe look like it was moving while standing still. The interior was plusher than ever, with a elegant and swooping center console, suggesting speed and a bit of luxury.
Honda had gradually been prepping it’s coupe for the role of sports GT car in the wake of the Preludes departure from the American market in 2001. The Accord coupe in some ways has become more compelling than the Prelude ever was. It was the first Honda to feature 18’ wheels and have a factory subwoofer as an option. It was also the most powerful four cylinder Accord ever with up to 200 hp from a 2.4 liter four. Like its Nissan Altima competition, the Accord offers a V6. At 3.5 liters, it makes 271 hp., that’s more than any Prelude and almost NSX territory. Although the Accord coupe could never keep up with a NSX, it might be more than a match for the old Prelude. From a stop an Accord EX would dust a 2001 Prelude SH to 60 mph (5.7 vs. 7.5). In fact the Accord is ridiculously fast for a car formally known as a sensible (appliance) means of transportation. Old Camaro owners beware.
Honda was clearly trying to move the Accord coupe in a position to attract younger sport minded buyers, as opposed to the careful and calculated sedan. For all its sport intentions, it’s still a Honda. As usual, fit and finish are above industry standards. Some of the industry’s smoothest shifting transmissions is available in six speed manual or five speed automatic flavors. It’s also efficient and packed with plenty of technology like variable cylinder management (on V6 models) and i-VTEC in four cylinder cars. Gas mileage is usually not a selling point for sporty cars, but the Accord coupe can get anywhere from 29 to 32 mpg on the highway depending on transmission and engine chosen.
Overall the Accord coupe does a lot of things well. Its high level of refinement, good road manners and more aggressive looks are sure to steal some buyers from the likes of the Hyundai Coupe, Nissan Altima and even the Mitsubishi Eclipse. Honda’s upscale brand Acura may feel the most pressure, as its RL is $20,000 more and has only a 17 hp more than the Accord. Suddenly, Acura is going to have step it up. You’re likely to see many more Accord coupes on the road with this generation as it finally comes out of the shadows of the sedan and injects some badly needed personality into one of America’s (formally) favorite automotive appliances.