- Powerful i-VTEC V6.
- More powerful new four-wheel disc brakes than base models.
- Unique styling differs from its Accord sedan sibling.
- Slick six-speed manual gearbox.
- Stiffer chassis and frame than previous model.
- Most expensive Accord trim.
- Suspension still too ride-oriented with excessive body roll.
- Uninspired new styling.
- Light on torque.
- Somewhat heavy.
Press Coverage :
The Honda Accord Coupe was all-new for the 2003 model year. Designed from the ground up, the coupe shares the same chassis as the Accord sedan, but with the wheelbase shortened by less than 3 inches. This allows for class-leading legroom in the back seat. However, the coupe shares virtually no body panels with the sedan, except for the headlights, thereby giving the coupe its own unique look. For 2006, freshened exterior elements on all Accord's include new front and rear styling with new bumper fascias, front grille, trunk lid design with integrated LED brake lamp and LED taillights.
The higher trim levels got a racy V6 with a massive 240 hp, upped to 244 hp for 2006. But the torque figure is only average, at 212 lb-ft, which was reduced to 211 lb-ft in 2006. Driven by the front wheels, the coupe still attempts to emulate a sports car, but is only partially successful. The highest and most expensive trim level is the EX V6, which adds a six-speed manual gearbox that rivals a Porsche Boxster's unit. Wheels are bigger, and suspension is also made stiffer, but body roll is still present as the "sportier" suspension is not sporty enough. The Accord V6 Coupe, therefore, can beat a Porsche Boxster at the drag strip, but not in the twisties.
All Accords gain a host of interior improvements for 2006 including a new steering wheel, new automatic transmission shift knob, and a restyled gauge cluster with a new Maintenance Minder function (indicating oil life and similar factors). Additionally, new seat fabrics are applied in all cloth models and extensive application of new lightweight sound deadening material to improve NVH even further.
A dealer-installed Factory Performance package is also available, which adds a conservative body kit, rear spoiler, stylish 17-inch wheels, even stiffer suspension and some interior styling enhancement. The FP upgrade is somewhat expensive, adding about $4000 to the base price of the coupe.
We briefly drove the new V6 sport coupe. It is fast, exhibits a wide powerband and sounds great when the revs are up, thanks to a unique air intake system. The six-speed manual transmission didn't move from gear to gear as fluidly as the five-speed found on the four-cylinder models, but nonetheless snicked positively between gates. The brakes (the front rotors are slightly larger than on other models) worked well, and the steering was responsive enough. What we found odd, given the targeted buyer for this package, was the floaty suspension. In curves, the 215/50R17 Michelin Pilot performance tires stuck to the road, and body roll was decently controlled. But on undulating pavement when traveling in a straight line, vertical body motion was excessive. At one point, the front of the car unloaded enough to cancel traction at the front wheels.
The 3.0-liter V6 sees a more dramatic power gain, as it now makes 240 hp at 6,250 rpm and 212 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. This power gain comes courtesy of a redesigned air intake, a freer-flowing exhaust, larger intake and exhaust valves, modifications to the fuel system and the updated iVTEC system. The V6 is rated to achieve 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the automatic transmission and will meet ULEV emissions standards in California.
During the press briefing, Baker made claims that the Accord V6 powerplant would make us forget about the new Nissan Altima's 3.5-liter V6. We beg to differ, having driven our long-term Altima 3.5 SE to the Accord launch. In contrast to the Nissan, the Honda upshifts and downshifts more fluidly and with less kick, but when the Accord's engine is revved, it fails to delight with any eagerness or urgency to rush to speed the way the Altima's V6 does.
Other areas in which Honda wanted to improve performance and appeal on a more emotional level included the brakes, steering and suspension of the new Accord. The company benchmarked the BMW 3 Series in this regard, and the results, if not exactly Bavarian, are cause for celebration. Wisely, Honda decided to stick with the previous-generation Accord's double wishbone suspension front and rear. Modifications in front amount to revised geometry to suppress body roll, dive and squat. In back, similar changes are employed, along with increased rear subframe stiffness. The result is a tighter ride with less thump and thrum from the underpinnings. And while Honda would like to think these changes have produced "true sport sedan performance," we again beg to differ.
More accurate are Honda's claims that the steering and brakes approach BMW levels of feedback and sophistication. Larger and thicker brake discs, in combination with standard ABS and reductions in pedal stroke, result in a brake pedal that is responsive and easy to modulate. However, and this could be due to the fact that our test cars were early build pre-production models, we experienced brake fade and excessive ABS chatter during our mountain driving.
Honda wanted the Accord's steering to be smooth, linear and natural in feel. It has succeeded in this respect, needing only more feedback to be transmitted from the road surface to the driver's hands to match BMW for steering feel and response. Steering dampers have been added for better high-speed stability, and modifications were made to reduce kickback. It helps, of course, that the Accord's structure has been strengthened for 2003, with torsional rigidity increased 27 percent. Feeling more buttoned-down and stout under all driving conditions, the new Accord exhibits a solid feeling of heft uncommon in a Honda. Crashworthiness was also a consideration in beefing up the Accord's foundation.
In EX V6 trim, an Accord Coupe will disappoint only
someone who absolutely has to have a luxury-brand name and wood
trim. Seating surfaces and the steering wheel rim are leather, the
console trim is aluminum veneer for a contemporary sport look, and
carefully-designed soundproofing results in low noise levels. Both
the power-adjustable driver's seat and manual front passenger seat
are very comfortable, with good support for long drives. The driver
is treated to a tilt and telescope-adjustable steering wheel. LED-lit
instruments are easy to read in any light, and all controls are placed
for easy use. The rear passengers are not an afterthought. If room
and access aren't quite up to Accord sedan standards, they are still
remarkably good, and two large-average sized people fit easily, with
the center best for a smaller person. The trunk is huge, and the rear
seat is split 60/40 to fold if really large items need to be carried.
1998-2002 Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe
2,997 cc / 200 hp / 195 lb-ft / 3283-3329 lbs / 0-60 mph 8.5 sec.