Coupes are sold mainly on style, and the redesigned 2008 Honda Accord
coupe no longer looks like a two-door clone of the conservatively styled new Accord
The shapely new front-wheel-drive Honda
coupe has entirely new sheet metal with long, flowing lines for a more rakish, aggressive appearance than the sedan, It's also startlingly fast with a V-6.
Although roomier than its predecessor, the coupe is more compact than the sedan. It's 3.2 inches shorter overall at 190.9 inches, which helps make it nimbler and more agile. It's nearly 2 inches lower at 56.4 inches and rides on a 107.9-inch wheelbase (distance between axles) that is 2.3 inches shorter.
The entry coupe is designed to attract younger buyers and comes with either a 2.4-liter, 190-horsepower four-cylinder engine -- a step up from the 177-horsepower engine in the entry Accord
sedan -- or with a smooth, sonorous 3.5-liter V-6 with 268 horsepower and far more torque.
The coupe's V-6 lacks the fuel-saving cylinder deactivation feature of the same-horsepower V-6 in the sedan because Honda
says torque is more readily on tap through the engine's powerband without that feature. In short, the Accord
coupe is more about driving fun than getting a few more mpg.
The base LS coupe has a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic transmission, while the coupe's V-6 shoots power through a close-ratio six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.
Estimated fuel economy with the four-cylinder is 22 mpg city and 31 highway with the manual and 21 and 30 with the automatic. Figures with the V-6 are 17 and 25 with manual and 19 and 28 with the automatic.
Only regular-grade fuel is needed for both engines, which is more important now than ever, considering fuel prices.
I tested the top-line $30,510 Accord
EX-L V-6 coupe with the short-throw close-ratio manual gearbox and navigation system, which costs the same as the EX-L V-6 with navigation and the automatic transmission. You don't get the same "free automatic transmission" deal with the entry coupe because the base LX version with manual is $21,860 and costs $22,660 with the automatic.
The price of the EX-L is a little scary for a Honda
coupe, although it's loaded with comfort, convenience and safety equipment. The more-practical top-line Accord
V-6 sedan with a navigation system costs less, at $30,260.
Even the base Accord
coupe is pretty well-equipped, and among the EX-L's added standard features are a power sunroof, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate controls, upscale sound system with seven speakers, heated front seats and a power driver's seat.
Safety items for all Accord
coupes include an anti-skid system, traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake distribution for surer quick stops -- and front-side and curtain-side air bags.
The V-6 coupe with the slick manual gearbox does 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and reportedly can hit 100 mph in just 13.6 seconds. However, I found a driver must occasionally "slip" the rather long-throw clutch for smooth takeoffs. The four-cylinder version is slower but no slouch.
The coupe feels like a larger car, partly because it's pretty heavy, at 3,221 to 3,569 pounds. The weight can be felt during emergency maneuvers and when snaking through curves. However, quick but somewhat heavy variable-assist power steering and a well-designed all-independent suspension with front/rear anti-sway bars allow crisp handling. The four-cylinder coupe has 17-inch wheels, vs. wider (45-series) tires on 18-inch wheels for the V-6.
Still, the front-drive layout puts the coupe at a disadvantage during aggressive driving, when compared with rear-wheel-drive sporty coupes; they have more even weight distribution -- which is virtually the same with the Accord
coupe's four-cylinder and V-6.
The ride is generally supple, but the sports suspension is on the firm side and lets occupants feel some bumps. Brakes are strong, controlled by a pedal with a linear action.
Long, heavy doors have handles that, oddly, seem upside down. But the doors allow easy entry to the nicely shaped front bucket seats and fairly easy access to the back ones. Honda
says the coupe is a five-passenger car. But, while the front-seat area is roomy, a high, hard middle-rear-seat area makes the backseat comfortable for only two occupants. At least the rear seat is surprisingly roomy for two tall adults.
The coupe has Honda
's typical no-nonsense, European-style interior, with nice fit-and-finish and high-grade materials. The backlit gauges can be easily read, and large climate and sound system controls can be quickly reached. Front console cupholders are extra-large, and the two rear cupholders are conveniently put in side armrests. Storage areas include large door pockets and seatback pockets.
The nicely shaped trunk is large but has a rather high opening, and its lid has intrusive hinges. The rear seatback flips forward for more cargo room, but now is one-piece, not split 60/40. The pass-through opening between the trunk and rear-seat area is only moderately large.
In all, the new Accord
coupe has a good balance of sportiness, performance and occupant accommodations. 2008 Honda Accord Coupe Prices:
Distinctively redesigned. Handsome. Roomier. Decent fuel economy. Fast with V-6. Good ride and handling. Dislikes:
Long, heavy doors. Costly V-6. Tricky clutch engagement. Heavy feel. Scary price for top version.