2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe. Click image to enlarge
Competitors
Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE V6 Coupe
Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Pontiac G6 GXP Coupe
Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Toyota Solara SLE V6 Coupe

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Honda Canada

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2008 Honda Accord

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Second opinion, by Chris Chase

North Vancouver, British Columbia – Though the Accord is best known as a family car, the two-door Accord V6 coupe model with the standard six-speed manual transmission is definitely a driver’s car – at least as far as front-wheel drive coupes go. For those buyers who aren’t quite ready for a BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G37, the Accord Coupe V6 is a less expensive, but nevertheless very sporty, and statistically reliable alternative for under $40,000.

Completely redesigned for 2008, the new Accord V6 coupe is longer, wider and roomier than the previous coupe and includes a new 3.5-litre V6 that pumps out 268 horsepower, 24 more than its 3.0-litre predecessor. The sporty V6 Coupe also comes with 18-inch low profile radials and a stiffer suspension for improved handling, standard four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist, traction and vehicle stability control, front fog lights, chrome dual exhaust tips, and body-coloured trunk spoiler.

2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe. Click image to enlarge

The V6 Coupe is also available with an optional five-speed automatic transmission (for no extra cost) matched to a 3.5-litre V6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that shuts off two or three cylinders under light load to save gasoline. This improves fuel economy by more than ten per cent, according to government Energuide figures.

But V6 coupe buyers are more likely to be interested in performance, style and reliability than fuel economy. Economy-minded buyers will likely opt for the base EX Coupe with a 190-hp 2.4-litre four-cylinder coupe, standard five-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic.

The styling of the new Accord Coupe is similar to the new Accord sedan, but the Coupe has a more rakish profile, trunk lip spoiler, larger taillights, and a taller trunklid. The Coupe is also a few inches shorter than the sedan with a shorter wheelbase.

Starting at $35,490, 2008 V6 Coupes come in well-equipped EX-L trim with a comprehensive list of features: perforated leather seats, leather steering wheel and shift knob, heated eight-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustment, dual-zone climate control, 270-watt six-CD/MP3 premium stereo and XM satellite radio with seven speakers including subwoofer, power sunroof, power windows and door locks with keyless entry, cruise, manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel, side and curtain airbags, folding rear seatback, 18-inch alloy wheels, and front fog lights.

For $38,290, EX-L V6 Coupe Navi models, like the car pictured here, include a voice-activated navigation system and Bluetooth hands-free phone system. With $1,390 Freight and $100 A/C tax, the as-tested price of my coupe came to just under $40,000.

2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe. Click image to enlarge
Interior impressions

With its low roof and long doors, the Accord Coupe is more difficult to get in and out of than the four-door Accord sedan, particularly if you have the misfortune of being assigned to the rear seat. When parked beside another car in a parking lot, it’s difficult to swing the doors out wide enough to get out gracefully and without inadvertently striking the other car. I found myself looking for isolated parking spots without cars on either side.

During my week with Accord Coupe, this was the feature I disliked the most, but it’s typical of large coupes. It’s basically the sacrifice you make for the stylishness of a two-door coupe.

The driver’s seat is very, very comfortable with many adjustments including power lumbar, generous side bolsters, and seat heaters with two temperature settings. Visibility is good to the front and sides but the rear view is obstructed by a high trunklid and thick C pillars. The front passenger seat does slide forwards when the seatback is lowered to make entry to the rear seat easier, but the rear seats are deep and confining and hard to get out of. However, there is a surprising amount of legroom and headroom and unlike in some coupes, the rear seat will accommodate three passengers.

2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe. Click image to enlarge

The quality of the cabin materials and the fit and finish is very good, and the six-speed Coupe includes perforated leather seats, aluminum/leather shift knob, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. However, as with the Accord sedan, the centre instrument panel is very busy, and the controls are not logically arranged. For example the heater controls are split up on either side of the audio controls and the CD player is located below the radio controls.

The large eight-inch centre display screen shows a variety of functions including the navigation map, menu for entering a destination in English or French (which can also be done by voice activation), radio station presets, Radio Seek and Tune; climate control, trip computer, calendar, calculator, and key to Zagat hotel ratings; and Setup functions such as screen brightness and contrast. A separate, narrow black and white digital display below the screen shows driver and passenger temperature settings, radio station, media choice, and time. The steering wheel has illuminated buttons for audio, cruise, telephone, voice activation.

Storage is fairly generous: there’s a large bin at the bottom of the centre stack, a glovebox, door pockets and between the front seats a sliding armrest with a deep storage bin containing an auxiliary jack and a 12-volt power outlet.

The rear seatback folds down for access to the trunk via a release lever in the trunk, but the seat is not a split folding seatback, thereby reducing its versatility. The Coupe’s trunk is smaller than the sedan’s, but still a useful 348 litres in size.

Standard front, side and curtain airbags provide full occupant protection in a crash: the Accord Coupe recently received five stars for driver and passenger in a frontal collision and four stars for the front passenger and five stars for the rear passenger in a side impact from the NHTSA; as well the Accord’s body structure is designed to compensate for different-sized vehicles in a frontal collision, and reduce pedestrian injuries should one be struck.

Driving impressions

Equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, the Accord Coupe has a slightly different version of the 3.5-litre SOHC V6 engine used in other Accords. Not only doesn’t it have the Variable Cylinder Management system, it does have a specially tuned VTEC valvetrain with two intake cam profiles to enhance low- and mid-rpm torque and “contribute to its sport-oriented character”, according to Honda. Its official horsepower and torque figures are the same, though – 268 horsepower at 6200 rpm, and 248 lb-ft. of torque at 5000 r.p.m.

2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe. Click image to enlarge

The manual transmission does bring this car alive, though. The driver can manipulate engine revs and shift times to suit their driving style, making the six-speed Coupe a much more involving and exciting Accord to drive. The V6 is a smooth, willing powerplant that redlines over 6,000 r.p.m. and according to acceleration tests by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, the six-speed Coupe can zip from zero to 100 km/h in just 6.6 seconds, and from 80 km/h to 120 km/h in 4.1 seconds. I found that the front tires break loose fairly easily on wet pavement, even with traction control, so the driver needs to handle that power carefully – but I didn’t notice any excessive torque-steer.

Energuide Fuel consumption is rated at 12.6 L/100 km City/7.8 L/100 km Highway, but the best I could manage in a week of mostly urban driving was 15.3 L/100 km. Somewhat surprisingly, this powerful V6 uses Regular Unleaded gasoline.

The close-ratio six-speed manual shifter moves easily and quickly from gear to gear, but I found the clutch pedal effort heavier than average which can get tiresome in heavy, city traffic. Cruising along the freeway in sixth gear at a steady 100 km/h, the engine turns over a leisurely 2,300 r.p.m. and the V6 Coupe make a very comfortable long-distance highway cruiser (at least for the front passengers).

2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe
2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe. Click image to enlarge

The wider ’08 Accord Coupe has repositioned side rails and a lower fuel tank for a lower centre of gravity, as well as a wider track and a front strut tower brace. It definitely handles and rides better than the previous Coupe and is much more nimble than its exterior dimensions would suggest. The suspension is fully independent (front double wishbone/rear multi-link) and standard traction and stability control help keep the car under control should you lose control on a slippery road. Still, it is a front-driver with the accompanying gentle understeer that results from having 60% of the car’s weight over the front wheels when cornering briskly.

The steering is a variable assist rack-and-pinion setup with a new variable mechanical system to provide more precise on-centre feel and greater responsiveness at larger steering angles. I found steering effort light at slow speeds and firmer and more precise at high speeds, but still a bit dull. I was surprised that the Coupe’s turning circle of 37.8 ft. is not tighter than the Sedan’s which has a longer wheelbase.

Braking performance is very good: AJAC braking tests show a 100 km/h to zero distance of 42.3 metres. Anti-lock brakes, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Differential are all standard.

Verdict

A lot of performance for under $40,000, the redesigned ’08 Accord Coupe combines a silky smooth V6, quick shifter and great brakes with the luxury of leather and climate control. Long doors and difficult access to the back seats are its major flaws.

Pricing: 2008 Honda Accord EX-L V6 Coupe w/Navigation
  • Base price: $38,290
  • Options: None
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Freight: $1,390
  • Price as tested: $39,780
    Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives
    Specifications
  • Specifications: 2008 Honda Accord
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