2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe
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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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While Honda has offered V6 power in the Accord since the mid-90s, Accord buyers had to settle for an automatic transmission to get it. It must have left some Honda fans wondering why – especially when Mazda’s old 626 sedan and Nissan’s Maxima have long offered six-cylinder engines with manual transmissions, and even Toyota, known for its conservative approach, built a few V6-powered Camrys with shift-it-yourself gearboxes.

That changed in 2004, when Honda began offering a six-speed manual on its top-of-the-line Accord EX-V6 two-door coupe, still leaving drivers who preferred four doors out in the cold. Honda’s rationale was that this configuration was essentially a replacement for the Acura CL Type-S that was available with a six-speed manual in 2003, its last year of production.

So while fun with four doors was still not an option, at least there was fun to be had with two doors. That continues for 2006, with the Accord coupe getting only minor cosmetic changes, mainly in the form of new LED taillights and new 17-inch alloy wheels for this range-topping model, which checks in price-wise at $34,900.

Driving impressions

While all Accords – two doors or more – are built on the same platform, Honda hacked 70 mm out of the coupe’s wheelbase to lend it more sporting proportions, and EX V6 coupes also get quicker steering, a tighter suspension and front strut tower bar.

2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe

2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe

2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe

2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe

2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe
Click image to enlarge

It’s a set-up that should appeal to drivers graduating from subcompacts with modified, low-slung suspensions. In the Accord coupe, road imperfections are absorbed with grace but its firm springs and dampers keep unnecessary body motions to a minimum. Take a long, sweeping turn at speed and the car responds with a balanced cornering attitude, with a touch of throttle-lift oversteer. The firm suspenders keep body lean to a minimum, too.

Slot the six-speed’s shifter into first, enjoy the smooth take-up of the clutch and ease onto the gas, and you’re rewarded with smooth, quiet acceleration – maybe even too quiet. The cabin is so well-isolated that it’s easy to find yourself cruising along the highway in third gear, the engine spinning happily above 4,000 rpm. Move the shifter into sixth, and the revs drop to just above 2,000 rpm for truly serene cruising. The one downfall of the manual shifter is a pronounced one-two crunch in cold weather that disappears once the car has warmed up. I’d expect this in an old beater, but not a Honda with just 3,500 kilometres on the clock. The brakes – four-wheel-discs on my tester, backed up with ABS and electronic brake force distribution – are strong, but the pedal is touchy, making it difficult to execute smooth heel-and-toe downshifts.

Any call for spirited acceleration – think two-lane highway passing manoeuvres – demands a downshift or two, thanks to the tall gearing and the engine’s high 5,000 rpm torque peak. Revving the sweet V6 isn’t a hardship though, as what mechanical noises do make it through the firewall are wonderful to listen to. Along with that refined revving comes strong, drama-free acceleration; this is one of those cars that doesn’t necessarily seem fast, but just is, no matter whether you’re moving away from a stop, or merging into a hole in fast-moving highway traffic.

The steering, while offering direct and generally satisfying control,

2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe
Click image to enlarge

doesn’t communicate a whole lot about the road surface, and even though there’s no torque-steer to speak of, routing 244 horsepower through the front wheels doesn’t do much to help steering feel. Despite the fairly big 17-inch wheels that are standard kit on the EX, what happens down at road level stays there, with little bump noise finding its way up to the bums of those inside. In fact, my tester felt quieter and more composed over rough roads than two BMWs – equipped with 17- and 18-inch wheels – I drove a few weeks previous to my stint in the Accord.


Interior impressions

The EX-V6 coupe gets standard heated, perforated leather seats that coddle the backside, and while the slippery hides don’t offer much butt grip in spirited cornering, the generous side bolsters help hold front-seat occupants in place.

2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe

2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe

2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 6-speed coupe
Click image to enlarge

Headroom up front is compromised for the tallest drivers by the power sunroof that comes as standard equipment on all but the basic coupe, and in back, the tapered roofline cuts into rear-seat headroom to the tune of about 20 mm compared to the sedan. That said, the rear seat is still plenty useable, and riders back there will be comfortable so long as they’re under six feet tall. The shortened wheelbase eats into legroom back there, but there’s lots of room under the front seats for toes. And despite the coupe’s rakish profile, visibility is very good front, back and sides.

Ergonomics have long been a Honda strong suit, and this car is no exception. Every control is within easy reach of the driver, and if you can’t read the big gauges at a glance, consider an upgrade to your glasses prescription. At night, the instruments light up a brilliant shade of white, while the buttons and controls on the rest of dash take on a soft, reddish-orange glow that’s a treat to the eyes.

Standard safety equipment on the EX-V6 coupe includes driver and front passenger side airbags, side curtain airbags and a Vehicle Stability Assist and traction control system.


Verdict

Hardcore driving enthusiasts will probably pooh-pooh the Accord’s front-wheel-drive layout. It’s true that BMW’s preference for rear-drive allows for better driving dynamics at the limit, and Audi’s got all-wheel-drive down pat with its Quattro system, but neither one offers so much value for the dollar, nor can they match Honda’s nearly spotless reputation for reliability. Fans of Honda have waited a long time for an Accord that could hold a candle to entry-level German models. I think this car can make it all worthwhile.


Technical Data: 2006 Honda Accord EX-V6 coupe 6MT

Base price $34,900
Options None
Freight $1,310
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $36,310 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives
Type two-door, five-passenger mid-size coupe
Layout transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine 3.0-litre V6, SOHC, 24 valves, VTEC
Horsepower 244 @ 6,250 rpm
Torque 211 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission six-speed manual
Tires 215/50R17
Curb weight 1,498 kg (3302 lb.)
Wheelbase 2,670 mm (105.1 in.)
Length 4,770 mm (187.7 in.)
Width 1,810 mm (71.2 in.)
Height 1,418 mm (55.7 in.)
Cargo capacity 371 litres (13.1 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 11.4 L/100 km (25 mpg Imperial)
  Hwy: 7.2 L/100 km (39 mpg Imperial)
Fuel type Regular unleaded
Warranty 3 years/60,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 years/100,000 km
Assembly location Marysville, Ohio

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