Recently, we had the chance to drive the new 2013 Honda Accord EX-L V6 Coupe. Equipped with the slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission, one could consider this to be quite a sleeper sports car. And after only a few minutes behind the wheel, I couldn't help but be reminded of my current daily driver, a 1995 Acura NSX.
When it came to the market in 1991, the NSX was considered to be somewhat of a sleeper itself. Known as the Honda NSX outside of North America, it was originally designed as a direct competitor to the Ferrari 348. The original NSX was a rear-wheel-drive, mid-engined car that was among the first to feature the all-aluminum body panels that have become more and more common in today's vehicles. Using many lessons learned from Honda's F1 motor sports history, the NSX made supercars not only more reliable but more affordable too.
The Acura NSX was canceled during the 2005 model year after only a few hundred vehicles were sold, leaving the Honda S2000 as the company's lone sports car. Itself a victim of slowing sales (helped along by the automotive crisis of 2009), the S2000's departure left the company with no real option for those looking for a little fun to go with their daily commute.
With the 2013 redesign of the Accord, Honda has brought back some of that missing magic. Marginally smaller and lighter than the car it replaces, the new Accord EX-L V6 Coupe is both quicker and more responsive. While still retaining all the comfort and amenities that have made the Accord a top-selling family car for decades, the new version is actually quite capable of elevating one's heart rate.
Of course, on paper a 1995 Acura NSX and a 2013 Honda Accord Coupe could not seem more different. The NSX is a rear-wheel-drive, mid-engined supercar, while the Accord is a front-wheel-drive, midsize car with the engine up front. The NSX is old enough to vote and still has a working cassette player, while the Accord is just learning to walk and can play your music via Bluetooth. The Acura has side mirrors that are about as big as an iPhone, while the EX-L-trimmed Honda comes standard with LaneWatch. When positioned side by side, the 2013 Accord makes the NSX look like a toy car.
But once you turn the key (or, in the Accord's case, push the starter button) and head off, the two are strikingly similar. While its larger stature allows one to skip the feats of contortion needed to enter the low-slung Acura, the newer car appears to shrink once you get situated behind the wheel. Both cars are deceptively quick, if not downright fast. The Accord's 6-speed transmission seems to be the logical evolution of the Acura's older 5-speed; both are precise and a joy to shift.
On the road, both cars feel planted and eager to tackle the next turn. The power-assisted steering does feel a bit artificial in both, but not worryingly so. The acceleration is instantaneous and can become somewhat addictive. Both V6 engines make wonderful noises, with the NSX sounding more like an F1 car compared to the Accord's more guttural, throaty rumble.
There is one glaring difference between these two Honda-produced vehicles. It's something I call The Look. Heck, it's one of the reasons I bought my Acura NSX in the first place. Obviously, with fewer total sales in 15 years than the Accord sells in a single month, the rarity of the NSX means it turns heads everywhere it goes. This is in direct contrast with the new Honda, which goes virtually unnoticed and overlooked, in part due to its subdued appearance. But, with the 2013 Honda Accord EX-L V6 Coupe, just because some might think it looks unexciting doesn't mean that it is. But let's keep that between you and me.