Second opinion: 2008 Honda Accord EX L V6 Coupe  car test drives honda
2008 Honda Accord EX-V6 6MT coupe. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2008 Honda Accord

This is it: this is what would happen if a Japanese company tried to build a BMW.

Not that I think that’s what Honda was after, necessarily. Why would they? They’re proud of the cars they do build, and for good reason. But I couldn’t help but think of this new Accord coupe as something of a Japanese Bimmer.

Start with what’s under the hood: Honda’s latest 3.5-litre V6 is here, and it might be one of the company’s smoothest sixes ever. Certainly, it rivals a BMW inline-six with its willingness to rev, and the power delivery is similar too; there’s lots of juice to be had, and it comes on strong a relatively low revs for a motor that will happily spin to almost 7,000 rpm.

My EX-L V6 coupe tester came with all the bells and whistles, but Honda thankfully still offers this car with a manual transmission – and a six-speed, to boot. Compared to the last Accord coupe I drove (a similarly-equipped previous-generation 2006 model), the clutch here is easier to modulate and I thought pedal effort was perfect for a car meant to boogie (that said, its weighty nature does get tedious in stop-and-go driving).

Second opinion: 2008 Honda Accord EX L V6 Coupe  car test drives honda
2008 Honda Accord EX-V6 6MT coupe. Click image to enlarge

The shift lever itself could have been lifted from a BMW; while it’s tall and the throws are on the long side, it’s a joy to use. My only complaint concerns a tendency for third gear to not fully engage without a concerted shove; anything less and you get a nasty grind when you let out the clutch.

With 268 horsepower on tap and relative short gearing in the first couple of gears, it is, as Greg mentioned, very easy to spin the front wheels. Moderation is the key here. That, and the realization that this car is more about comfortable cruising and two-lane passing ability than 0-100 km/h sprints.

Speaking of two-lane roads, here’s a car that would be just about as much fun on a winding back road as anything built by the Bavarians. Ride and handling are terrific (though testing the latter was difficult during my wintry week-long test drive), but there’s no forgetting that this is a front-heavy, front-wheel drive car when it’s being pushed in a corner. Understeer is mild as long as you don’t ask the front wheels for cornering grip and acceleration at the same time.

Second opinion: 2008 Honda Accord EX L V6 Coupe  car test drives honda
Second opinion: 2008 Honda Accord EX L V6 Coupe  car test drives honda
2008 Honda Accord EX-V6 6MT coupe. Click image to enlarge

The brakes are wonderfully strong, but can be grabby at low speeds. A bit off-putting at first, but you get used to it. Steering effort is decent, but feel is lacking. I’ll echo Greg’s comments about fuel consumption: I never managed to match the car’s 12.7 L/100 km city rating, even with a few short-distance highway jaunts. For now, I’ll blame the cold weather that blanketed Ottawa that week.

Where practicality is concerned, the Accord coupe offers a decent-sized trunk and a usable-but-tight back seat. The back seat folds down, but it’s a one-piece fold and the opening is small. And don’t get me started on the intrusive trunklid hinges. But really, if you need lots of trunk and passenger space, maybe a coupe’s not for you.

The front seats are wonderful, with lots of lateral support. Much like a BMW, yes, but the seats feel wider, with less “let’s rock!” and more “welcome home.” My only gripe with the interior is the cluttered dashboard. Despite the use of Honda’s great joystick control for the navigation system, the centre stack feels like an afterthought. I agree with Greg that the massive doors are a pain, as is the long reach back to grab the seat belt.

Despite the car’s packaging flaws, this much performance and style for less than $40,000 is a tough deal to ignore.