2013 Honda Accord HFP Coupe
2013 Honda Accord HFP Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Steven Bochenek.

Over the years, I’ve owned two Honda Accords – and they were nothing like the half hour spent with the 2013 Honda Accord HFP.

In late June, Honda hosted a manual driving school for the media, which featured two 2013 Accord HFP Coupes, one black, the other white, and both a virtual crack hit to pilot. (There were also four Civic Si HFP Coupes.) The main point of the half-day event was to teach novices how to drive stick. Those of us who already knew how were more than welcome – the HFP coupes were the bait.

The instructors, both racers, set up two tight courses with pylons in a private parking lot. Their entire distance, turns included, would have been less than 750 metres each. Fortunately we were given nearly forty minutes to continually lap.

The HFP package is steroids for your Accord: the big V6 engine, 19-inch HFP alloy wheels on Michelin Pilot Super Sport performance tires, an especially sporty suspension actually brand HFP, lots of HFP jewellery displayed throughout the car, and spoilers all over to promote aerodynamic harmony. The effect is very attractive in a badass way.

You know that feeling when you bump into someone you haven’t seen in years and they’re terrifically fit? “I’ve been working out,” is what the Accord HFP would’ve told me if it could talk. Instead it screamed.

2013 Honda Accord HFP Coupe2013 Honda Accord HFP Coupe
2013 Honda Accord HFP Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Driving the short course?

The 3.5L 24-valve V6 engine – it takes regular gasoline, thank you – is matched to a manual transmission and has dual exhaust for better airflow (the double exhaust pipes also look wicked). Capable of emitting 278 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque, the engine let rip with magnificent acceleration. Then, almost immediately, we were into a 90-degree turn, showing off the sporty suspension and carefully tuned steering with just a touch of thrilling drift. Those extra big performance tires behaved like rolling carpet tape when needed.

Actually, we were turning a lot with just two straightaways – both of which would be better timed using quarter-seconds before turning again. The longer of them was probably less than 70 metres. The tilt/telescopic steering wheel promotes better control and confidence. (I like to be upright and close to the action especially when driving stick, but dislike raising my hands north of the nipples to get the nine and three-o’clock grip on the wheel.)

On a short course, the temptation is to look closely in front rather than off towards the next turn. But after a few laps, you learn how to play with the inertia, exactly where to brake gently, hard or halfway between; where to down- and upshift, as well as where to turn and how hard. The course was wet. Hydroplaning, steering the Accord HFP become almost like waterskiing.

Despite the constant steering there was no shortage of speed coming out of the turns. The HFP package inserts spoilers in 360 degrees: at the front underbody, rear underbody, side underbody and the deck lid (atop the back of the trunk).

Those of us comfortable with standard transmissions weren’t quite given carte blanche to play, but had far less supervision. One of the instructors told me none of the newbies actually got into third gear during the morning’s lessons.

No wonder.

The course barely allowed us into third gear, being so twisty and short. Indeed, the Accord was happy to live in second gear – revving high as you please and dropping when your foot lightened on the accelerator. The clutch was sensitive; finding the sweet spot going into first gear was easy. Typically I stall at least once when getting used to a new standard transmission. It didn’t happen with the Accord HFP, shifting back and forth between gears felt completely natural.

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