The Honda Accord coupe has long suffered from being an obvious 2-door version of the conservatively styled Accord 4-door sedan. No more. The shapely new 2008 Accord Coupe has entirely new sheet metal with long, flowing lines for a more rakish look. It's also startlingly fast with a V6.

Model Lineup
The Coupe comes in LX-S, EX, EX-L and EX-L V6 trim levels. All except the EX-L V6 come with a 4-cylinder engine. Coupes with the 4-cylinder engine wear 50-series tires on 17-inch wheels, while the EX-L V6 has 45-series tires on 18-inch wheels.

Even the base LX-S Coupe has items including air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player and power mirrors, windows and door locks with remote keyless entry. Among the uptown EX-L's added standard items are a power sunroof, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate controls, an improved sound system with seven speakers, heated front seats and a power driver's seat.

Standard safety features for all trim levels include front- and side-curtain airbags, a stability-control system, traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake distribution for surer stops. A navigation system is the only major option, though it's standard on EX-L models.

Under the Hood
The front-wheel-drive Coupe is sold with two engines: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that generates 190 horsepower at 7000 rpm; and the smooth, sonorous 3.5-liter V6 that produces 268 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 248 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm. The 4-cylinder shoots power through a 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic. The V6 works with a close-ratio 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic.

Accord Coupes equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission lack the fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation feature found on the sedan's V6, to make torque available throughout the engine's rev band. The coupe is more about driving kicks than getting a few more mpg - although one might think that the 6-speed manual would be a better fit with the 4-cylinder engine to get more economy and performance from it.

Inner Space
The coupe is roomier than its predecessor, although it's more compact than the Accord sedan. At 190.9 inches it's 3.2 inches shorter overall than the 4-door, which helps make it more agile. It's also nearly 2 inches lower at 56.4 inches, and rides on a 107.9-inch wheelbase that is 2.3 inches shorter.

The coupe has Honda's typical no-nonsense European-style interior, with nice fit-and-finish and high-grade materials. Backlit gauges can be easily read under all lighting conditions, and large climate and sound system controls can be easily reached. The front-console cupholders are large, and the two rear cupholders are conveniently placed in the side armrests. Storage areas include large door and seatback pockets.

A roofline more rakish than the sedan hinders rear vision, and long, heavy doors have handles that seem upside down. Conversely, the doors allow easy entry to the larger, nicely shaped front bucket seats and somewhat easy access to the back ones. The front-seat area is spacious, but a high, hard middle of the rear seat makes the back seat comfortable for only two occupants. However, the rear area is roomy for two tall adults.

The rear seatback, which flips forward for more cargo room, is now a single piece, not a 60/40 split, and the pass-through opening between the trunk and rear-seat area is moderately large. The nicely shaped trunk is roomy but has a rather high opening and a lid with intrusive hinges.

On the Road
I spent the majority of testing time in the top-line $30,510 Accord EX-L V6 with the slick, short-throw, close-ratio 6-speed manual gearbox and navigation system. The V6 coupe with the manual will hit 60 mph in only 5.6 seconds and 100 mph in 13.6. The 4-cylinder provides slower, but lively, acceleration. However, I found I had to occasionally "slip" the rather long-throw clutch with the V6 for smooth takeoffs.

The coupe is rather large and fairly heavy at 3,221 to 3,569 pounds. The weight can be felt during emergency maneuvers and when taking curves. Quick but somewhat heavy variable-assist power steering and an all-independent suspension with front/rear anti-sway bars allow crisp handling. But the front-drive layout puts the coupe at a disadvantage during aggressive driving when compared to its rear-wheel-drive competitors.

The sport suspension is firm and lets occupants feel some bumps, but the ride is generally supple. Strong brakes provide sure stops and are controlled by a pedal with a linear action. Estimated fuel economy with the 4-cylinder and manual transmission is 22/31 mpg (city/hwy) and 21/30 with the automatic. Figures with the V6 are 17/25 with manual and 19/28 with automatic. Only regular-grade fuel is needed for either engine.

Right for You?
Prices range from $21,860 for the entry LX-S with a manual transmission to $28,310 for the EX-L with a manual. An EX-L with the navigation system and an automatic tops out at $30,510 - rather scary for a Honda coupe. The more practical, top-line Accord V6 sedan with a navigation system costs slightly less, at $30,260.

The new Accord coupe promises to have above-average resale value and delivers a good blend of sportiness, performance and occupant accommodations. It's also a viable alternative to the Nissan Altima or Toyota Camry Solara coupe.

MSN Autos

© 2009 Microsoft

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