2012 Honda Accord HFP coupe
2012 Honda Accord HFP coupe. Click image to enlarge
Test Drive: 2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
Manufacturer’s web site
Honda Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2012 Honda Accord

The mid-sized Honda Accord has rarely received much attention from the engineering whizzes at Honda responsible for performance models like the Civic Si and S2000. Not surprising, given the target market for this family car; even the two-door coupe—a smaller, ostensibly sportier, and, yes, two-door version of the Accord—has, historically, been passed over for performance upgrades. Even Acura’s TL, a luxury sedan based on the Accord, gets a 300-plus horsepower engine and all-wheel drive, luxuries the Honda family-car mainstay has never enjoyed.

Maybe Honda feels bad for having left the Accord out of all the fun, and wants to make up for it with the addition of a 2012 Accord coupe in Honda Factory Performance (HFP) trim.

2012 Honda Accord HFP coupe
2012 Honda Accord HFP coupe. Click image to enlarge

Of course, it could also be that Honda wants to move more units of this eighth-generation Accord before the new one rolls into the showrooms this fall. Dressing up an aging design with some unique body bits and mild performance enhancements is a good way to do that.

Each Accord HFP coupe is born as an EX-L V6 Navi, which is normally the top of the Accord coupe ladder. To create the HFP, Honda takes a Taffeta White coupe, adds graphite coloured 19-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, a lowered suspension, HFP badging inside and out, and underbody spoilers at the front, rear, and sides. Then, they add $2,000 to the bottom line, for a $37,990 MSRP.

Just like all V6-powered Accord coupes, the HFP comes with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions (and, in fact, that’s the only decision you have to (or get to) make with the HFP; the white-on-black colour scheme is decided for you. Our tester had the manual, a transmission so good it’s a shame so few Accord buyers, coupe or not, are likely to choose it. The shifter’s easy feel is matched with abrupt throttle tip-in and clutch engagement; those last two things are usually turn-offs for me, but Honda’s done something right, because all of it became easy to use smoothly after a few drives.

2012 Honda Accord HFP coupe
2012 Honda Accord HFP coupe. Click image to enlarge

I generally believe that a 271-hp (and 251 lb-ft of torque) engine is overkill for a mid-sized car, but the Accord’s 3.5L motor shines when bolted to this manual transmission. It pulls hard in the lower gears and makes lovely, refined sounds with a surprising mechanical edge for a car not usually viewed as the enthusiast’s choice. I wonder, though, if the target audience for this car might not appreciate a more exciting exhaust note. Maybe they would, but Honda knows most of that crowd will go for an aftermarket exhaust system no matter what the car comes with from the factory.

Steering feel is a (narrow) cut above what’s expected here, and while you won’t find Porsche Cayman–like communication between the front tires and steering wheel, the HFP turns in eagerly, and the steering is good enough to make it entertaining to drive at seven-tenths. The Accord’s front-wheel drive layout is what will keep you from wanting to explore its all-out performance (best done on a race track, naturally, for better or worse). Hard acceleration in first and second gears sets the front tires fighting to maintain grip and the driver working against the torque steer that results. Get up into third, though, and the engine’s big mid-range power shines without that torque-steer tarnish.

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