Honda Accord Coupe V6 — A driving delight

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

People shopping for a performance-infused sports coupe, but who aren't awed by the current crop of retro "pony cars" need look no further than the 2013 Honda Accord Coupe with the V-6 engine. The completely restyled coupe in six-cylinder guise delivers sparkling performance and handling on a par with the six-cylinder offerings from Mustang, Camaro and Challenger, but in a more sophisticated package.

We found the Accord V-6 Coupe a coveted companion, a car we looked forward to driving even for short run errands.

The coupe is part of the complete Accord redesign for the 2013 model year, and not only did Honda infuse the two-door with just the right mix of Honda's best stuff, but the new styling direction actually works better with two doors than with four. We think the new Honda sports a more pleasing look than the last generation and because of its good looks people will discover its solid-build quality, its outstanding driving demeanor, upscale leather upholstery, decent gas mileage and far
better sightlines. Its off-the-line performance gives you a feel-good attitude.

The nuts and bolts of the Accord is a lusty 3.5-liter 24-valve aluminum block V-6 making 278 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque mated to either a slick-shifting six-speed manual or a silky smooth six-speed automatic transmission. Honda says the carryover V-6 has been revised for better low-end torque feel and we are believers discovering instant slam-you-back-in-your seat pedal-to-the-medal takeoffs. Published times have the new Accord completing 0-to-60 runs in 5.6 seconds and quarter mile jaunts in 14 seconds at 103 mph.

If you insist on the automatic transmission, you will lose very little in quickness by using the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. And even in quick starts there is little torque steer. We recommend a test drive of the manual transmission before making the final purchase decision. You may very well be persuaded by its precision feel, one of most delightful shifters on the market.

The automatic will bring you better fuel economy, however, according to EPA numbers. The automatic is rated at 21 city, 32 highway; the manual at 18/28. And more good news — regular gas is recommended.

The Accord coupe is actually 2.2 inches shorter than the sedan with a two-inch shorter wheelbase, giving the two-door better balance and superior handling traits. We found the car a cornering beast on our usual stretch of winding rural blacktop, a nimble car that's always ready and willing to go out and play.

Inside, the cockpit design is classy and materials have an overall high-quality look and feel. The instrument panel contains a pair of large, circular dials and the information they display can be easily read from the passenger’s side as well. Among new interior technology in our top-line EX-L with Nav edition was “Intelligent” Multi-Information Display (i-MID), standard Bluetooth ‘HandsFreeLink’ with audio streaming, touch screen audio, standard dual-zone automatic climate control, standard rearview camera with guidelines, and a selection of other goodies including a right side rearview camera that is activated by turning on your right turn signal.

Audiophiles are accommodated by a very good 360-watt audio system with seven speakers. Other appreciated features include the amount of redundant controls that are located on the steering wheel, and an adjustable telescoping wheel with tilt function.

If you purchase a coupe it's usually because of its sporty persona and not its passenger space. In the case of the Accord, rear-seat space has actually been reduced slightly from the previous iteration. Two adults can ride in back, but with limited leg room that will probably preclude extended road trips.

On the other hand, the front seats are accommodating even for old, spreading bodies. Trunk space is adequate at 13.7 cubic feet. But Honda has kept the old-style trunk hinges that can crush a suitcase if not careful. And the trunk lid does not pop open when hitting the remote control, not convenient when you are burdened with a load of groceries.

The coupe is well-priced starting at $24,140 for the LX-S four-cylinder version that carries the same styling weight, but offers dialed-back performance especially in automatic transmission mode where there's only a continuously variable transmission available. Fortunately for those who crave sportiness there's a manual transmission option available.

Rising through the trim levels to our test car, the EX-L V6 with navigation and a six-speed manual with a sticker price of $33,140 proved the Honda coupe with its excellent driving dynamics, high-quality and high-tech cabin was worth every penny.

Base price: $24,140; as driven, $33,140
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Horsepower: 278 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 252 foot-pounds @ 4,900 rpm
Drive: front wheel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Seating: 2/2
Wheelbase: 107.3 inches
Length: 189.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,536 pounds
Turning circle: 37.6 feet
Luggage capacity: 13.7 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 32 highway, 21 city
0-60: 5.6 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Nissan Altima coupe

The Good
• Energetic and fuel-efficient V-6
• Responsive handling
• High-quality interior
• Excellent manual-transmission option

The Bad
• Old-fashioned trunk hinges

The Ugly
• Tight back seat