– Looks good with body kit
– Good handling
– Spacious for a coupe
– Base engine lacks grunt
– Some road noise issues
– Buttons cluttering dashboard
The new-for-2008 Honda Accord Coupe is one car that had been awaited anxiously for months before its release. Young Honda fanboys who didn’t know this car was coming here ended up buying the new-generation four-door Accord sedan already, and a few of these guys approached us asking how they could get their hands on a coupe like ours. Indeed, we were cruising in one of only a handful of press-fleet Coupes to have hit local streets at the time, and we were drawing all kinds of attention from teenagers and wannabe-racers.
We had requested a V6 version, but were handed a 4-cylinder with a tasteful body kit installed. The kit certainly made our silver car look infinitely sportier, even though the single exhaust tip out back hinted at its actual performance. The V6 gets dual tips, inch-larger wheels and, well, a V6 badge. The V6 gets a standard rear spoiler, but our specially-kitted 4-cylinder car also had one.
The cabin is certainly familiar, sharing the exact same dashboard with the sedan. But look around and it becomes obvious that the coupe is shorter, and this is reflected in the rear passenger space. Looking over the dash again, it is almost as futuristic as the one in the Civic, but using standard analogue gauges and a central LCD screen for displaying information. The two-tier dash looks to be one piece, but the upper out-of-reach half is actually hard plastic, while the lower parts within reach are softer to the touch. On the other hand, the door sills and inserts have padded soft surfaces, but are harder below the elbow line. With the exception of the split-folding seats, the rear passengers are completely surrounded by hard plastics.
Up front, headroom and legroom are great, but that is probably due to the annoyingly-low seating position. Surprisingly, there is decent room for average-sized adults in the back too, and access is not too complicated if you don’t have back problems. The cloth front seats in our tester were adequately bolstered and gripped our butts like glue. The front seats are manually adjustable, but don’t move upwards enough for our liking. The luggage trunk is huge, as it should be, given the car’s large rump.
There are a fair number of standard features such as power windows, electric mirrors, an average CD/MP3 player with changer and wheel buttons, sunroof, front and side-curtain airbags, keyless entry, cruise control and covered cup-holders. The a/c works well enough, although we only tested it in March weather. But the centre console is cluttered with buttons and it takes a while to find functions. We didn’t even realise Bluetooth is standard until we saw the feature list after giving back the car. And even if you pay top dollar, you still won’t get a trip computer to see your fuel consumption, even though nowadays it is standard in almost every other midsizer.
The 2.4-litre 4-cylinder is a typical Honda unit, good for 190 hp at a high 7000 rpm, and 219 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm, which is a bit more than the base sedan’s output. The engine has useful kick at initial throttle tip-in from standstill, but then it simply buzzes away while speeds builds up rather slowly. However, in the upper half of the rev range, power delivery improves noticeably as the iVTEC variable valve timing system does its job. The latest iVTEC system is supposed to offer linear power delivery, but a sudden bit of push can still be felt at around 4000 rpm, so self-proclaimed Honda enthusiasts can still shout out “VTEC just kicked in, yo!”
Mated to a smooth-shifting but very basic five-speed automatic, we managed a 0-to-100 kph time of 8.9 seconds. Even with stability control turned off, we couldn’t get the engine above 2000 rpm for a proper brake-torque launch, so there was never any wheelspin. Since the instruction manual in our tester was missing, we don’t know if there is another technique to fully turn off traction control. Also missing was a trip computer, so we roughly calculated a fuel consumption figure of 12.5 litres per 100 km.
But the four-banger Accord Coupe’s real ace is its handling. Shorter than the sedan, and lighter than the V6 version, the front-wheel-drive platform provides hours of safe understeering fun for kids brave enough to venture outside the world of Playstations. Unfairly comparing this coupe to our recent Altima “sports” sedan tester, body roll is very noticeably less than the Nissan, and yet, this Honda actually feels a bit more comfortable over uneven pavement. Understeer shows up eventually during corners, but it appears gradually so there are no surprises.
Our track time with the Coupe also provided oodles of entertainment as we braked into turns, confidently making the tail slide out on command after a few laps of familiarisation. The 225/50 tyres wrapping the 17-inch alloys are largely adequate, even if they spend half the time squealing loudly at the track as they bravely fight to keep the car within the lines. The Honda’s power steering is nicely weighted for precise driving, unlike the Nissan’s overly soft wheel, but feedback is still rather limited. The ABS-assisted disc brakes work well enough. The mild firmness in the Accord’s pedals also provides a welcome feeling of accuracy over the Altima’s dead-soft setup, so braking linearly is easy.
And yet, the Accord remains soft enough to easily manoeuvre into parking spaces and casually loaf around town. On the highway, the engine sounds buzzy during overtaking, but it is not too intrusive. More noticeable is the excessive road noise on newly-paved roads, while being fairly quiet only on the smoothest surfaces. Some wind noise can also be heard, but the ride quality remains comfortable enough overall, due to compliant suspension.
The Accord Coupe is certainly entertaining in its own way. It turned out to be more than just a chopped-up family car, but still retains a certain bit of practicality. We expect most buyers to go for this four-banger simply due to its lower price point, but anyone serious about their machine should probably upgrade to the V6, if only to avoid bruised egos in drag races. The handling part of the equation is well taken care of with either model.
Current Model Introduced in:
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