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by Paul Williams
photos by Laurance Yap
Phoenix, Arizona – Honda Accord coupes and sedans have been available for years, and the new-for-2003 versions are no exception. Most people will buy the four or six-cylinder models with an automatic transmission.
However, if you want the reliability and resale of the Accord, with some additional flair and exclusivity, the recently-introduced Accord Coupe EX V6 with six-speed manual transmission (6MT) may fit the bill.
Here, after all, is a very rare car (only 500 per year for Canada) with a very common nameplate. Exterior differences between it and the standard coupes are subtle, but present. It’s kind of a Honda Accord sleeper. Your insurance company will never know.
As you may know, the body of the new Accord Coupe is unique, and shares no panels with the Accord Sedan. At 4766 millimeters it’s 49 mm shorter than the sedan. And lower as well, by 34 mm. But what are the differences between the six-speed version and your garden-variety Accord Coupe?
Let’s start with the gearbox. It’s a new transmission that’s closely related to the manual transmission in the Acura 3.2CL Type S. It features a short-throw shifting action with a strong second, third and fourth gear for rapid acceleration. Fifth will still put some torque to the wheels, but sixth is a commendably lazy overdrive for economical cruising.
The 3.0-litre, single overhead camshaft (SOHC) engine in this car makes the same 240 horsepower as the V6 in other Accords. But it does feature a revised air intake system and a single-chamber resonator in the exhaust. These modifications give the motor a sportier sound when accelerating, while maintaining a quiet ride at speed.
This is one sweet drivetrain. The clutch is super-light, the aluminum-capped shifter is precise, and the motor effortlessly and very quickly achieves its redline of 6750 r.p.m. through each gear.
You’ll not be short of power, and as far as fuel goes you won’t be paying extra for that, either. Unlike similar engines from other manufacturers, regular gasoline is recommended for this V6, which the Accord parsimoniously consumes at a rate of 7.3 litres/100 kilometers on the highway (11.5 L/100 km in the city).
Inside, the six-speed Coupe features front seats with modified bolstering, and open-front headrests. Perforated leather is standard and the only interior colour available in Canada is black. Too bad, in my opinion, as the Ivory interior available in the US goes great with the Nighthawk Black Pearl exterior, among other colours.
The list of interior appointments is comprehensive, and dealer-installed trim items dominate the available accessories. Starting from the top, you get a sunroof, side-impact airbags, a premium 180-watt sound system with in-dash six-disc CD changer, leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter, multi-function steering wheel controls, heated exterior mirrors, dual climate control, electro-luminescent instrument cluster, power driver’s seat, remote keyless entry and traction control. There’s more, but you get the point.
The rear seat is nicely upholstered but as you would expect, headroom is tight. This is, after all, a coupe. Coupes feature roofs that angle down toward the rear, which is mainly what contributes to their sporty appearance. Buyers of coupes are not typically concerned about rear-seat headroom, but suffice it to say, the back seat will accommodate flexible adult passengers.
The rear seat folds, and with access from the trunk this provides lots of room for luggage, and long items like skis and hockey sticks.
The exterior features distinctive 17″ x 7″ split-spoke alloy wheels and all-season P215/50R17 tires. Two large-diameter chrome exhaust tips protrude below the rear bumper.
On the road the car is fast, smooth, and easy to drive. The steering is light and direct, instruments are big and legible. It’s a real pleasure taking it up through the gears, and then settling into a comfortable long-distance stride. Anti-lock brakes with 11.8″ ventilated front discs, solid rear discs, and electronic brake assist are standard.
The styling is angular and racy. Front and rear glass is huge and the waistline is high. More than one person commented that the rear has a definite Mercedes Benz look to it, and I have to agree. From the side, however, I think the Accord Coupe needs a little more work, as it doesn’t seem entirely finished.
Side skirts are an option, and look good, as does the optional rear spoiler (or select the Aero kit ($1909.00) which includes these items plus a front and rear skirts). Some owners will fit a lowered suspension, or select different wheels.
Then again, true “sleepers” don’t give themselves away, and the Accord Coupe may have all the flash it needs for performance-oriented Accord buyers. Its limited production should guarantee this model’s appeal into the future. The 2003 Honda Accord Coupe 6-speed is priced at $33,600.