2009 Honda Accord Coupe Review
|Topics: Honda Accord
25 June 2009
When Honda revealed the low-slung, chiseled, near-production version Accord Coupe Concept at the 2007 Detroit auto show, both the media and public response was clearly positive—and talk quickly ensued about how closely its look would mimic, or vice versa, the yet-to-be-debuted next-generation 2008 Accord sedan. While there are similarities—what a difference two fewer doors make.
Coupe Du Jour
Say "Honda Accord" and most will think: boring but reliable and economical transportation. The 2009 Honda Accord Coupe requires new word associations: "attractive and fast." The Accord Coupe is far more than an Accord with the rear doors welded shut. The most noticeable feature is its styling. For us, it's like a cross between an Aston-Martin DB9 and a BMW 3 Series. It enjoys Honda's tradition of durable attractiveness—styling that doesn't go quickly out of style. Compared to the Accord Sedan, the Coupe is shorter and narrower. It has more aggressive suspension tuning and a lower final drive ratio for better acceleration.
Inside, the upscale feel continues. A multi-curved black dash is accented with a polished aluminum-colored band across the bottom. The top-of-the-line tester that Honda provided boasted supportive leather seats. Access to the rear is as easy as it gets with a coupe. Once seated, there's adequate room for two average-sized adults. The Coupe has two fewer inches of headroom than the sedan, so basketball players and those with super-sized butts will bump their heads on the ceiling. The center rear seat is for urgent situations only.
Two engines are available: A 190-horse, DOHC, four-cylinder, and the potent 271-horse SOHC 3.5-liter V-6. The six, which features four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing, makes a strong 254 pound-feet of torque at a relatively high 5000 rpm. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. The automatic suffered from a bit of lag between when we asked for full throttle and the transmission downshifted to the needed gear. That gave the BMW too much of a head start. The four-cylinder with the five-speed manual gets 22 miles per gallon in the government's city driving cycle and 31 on the highway. The V-6 automatic gets 19 in the city and 28 on the highway.
A limiting factor in the Accord Coupe's ability to keep up with a 230-horse BMW 328 or a 300-horse 335 on winding roads are its less-than-sticky Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 all-season tires. Drive too deep into a tight corner before getting on the brakes and the anti-lock braking system will flutter like a frightened dove and the car will slide wide of your intended path. The Coupe's handling seemed nicely balanced but we kept radically overestimating the level of grip. The Accord Coupe will require a switch to ultra-high-performance summer tires to keep up with a well-driven BMW. Since Michelin doesn't make ultra-high performance tires in the Coupe's P235/45R18 original equipment size, options include the Bridgestone Potenza RE050A or the low-cost Kumho Ecsta SPT. Fitted with either, the Honda-BMW match-up will be determined mainly by the drivers' skills and determination. With sticky tires on the Honda, even 335i drivers will have to keep an eye on the rearview.
The Accord Coupe comes in three trim levels: The base LX-S, the mid-level EX and the top of the line EX-L. Only the EX-L is available with a V-6. Pricing starts at around $23,000 and explodes past $32,000 for the EX-L V-6. This eighth version of the Accord Coupe was first introduced in 2008 and was changed little for 2009.
Standard in the V-6 Coupe is a 270-watt AM/FM/6-disc in-dash audio system with seven speakers. Standards include MP3/auxiliary audio input jack and XM satellite radio. We found the speed-sensitive volume control a very nice feature, especially when slowing after a mountain-road charge. A continually annoying trait of Hondas is reflections cast into the windshield and backlight at night and even under certain daylight conditions.
The Accord Coupe is a classically beautiful, strong performing two-door, four-seater. A dozen years ago it would have been among the top-performing sports coupes on the market. Add a set of sticky tires and a skilled driver and it is today, too.
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