Test Drive: 2014 Honda Accord Coupe V6

I’ve found a loophole. If you reap the good fortune of a company car at your place of employment but have often lamented the corporate mandate of choosing one that’s efficient, practical and about as exciting as wet cardboard, I’ve got the solution for you: the Honda Accord.

I know what you’re thinking, the Accord is a lovely machine that’s quiet, comfortable and reliable, and from a brand respected for its quality and value, but it’s not exactly high up on the lust-o-meter scale. True the multi-generational mid-sizer is about as inoffensive a car as you can get and certainly nobody’s ever suffered a tongue cluck or finger-wag session from his or her accountant for buying the sensible Accord.

The loophole is this: put “Honda Accord” on the company requisition form, then order yourself the EX-L V6 Coupe with a manual transmission and start slyly grinning like you’ve just gotten away with a bank heist. Sure it’s still an Accord, but the racier two-door version is a surprisingly invigorating machine to drive and pretty easy on the eyes as well.

Both the Accord sedan and coupe were all new for 2013, so styling and technology is still fresh on this one. While some of the recent past generation sedans have been a bit of a miss on the styling side of things, the coupes have always looked smart and handsome if not overly aggressive. The current generation is no exception with the same unmistakable Accord coupe profile but subtly updated nose to tail with handsome trim treatments and shapes. No frivolous (and useless) vents or scoops adorn the bodywork, nor are there outrageous fire-or-water-inspired sheet metal sculptures either.

My test car finished in “Tiger Eye Pearl” paint, (though I think more aptly named “Root Beer Pearl”) is both unique and really cool. Inside the coupe is finished in a soft duo-tone black and cream leather. Again, very stylish indeed.

 

Performance Heritage

The new Accord coupe isn’t just a looker but a performer too. The upshot to sharing a lot of fundamentals with the sedan means a roomy and comfortable interior and manageable production costs for Honda, but it also means a shared front-wheel-drive platform – a format not normally associated with the best of performance machines. Still with a history of acclaimed sporty cars (CRX, Prelude, Integra, Civic Si to name a few), Honda knows how to make a front-driver dance better than almost anyone.

Increasingly, cars are becoming bigger, softer and more isolating. Electric steering has contributed considerably to the detached connection of driver-to-car and although the Accord’s steering effort is very boosted, it does still provide a reasonable amount of feedback through the wheel as to what’s going on at the road surface. Steering is linear and has a quick ratio to help live up to the sporty exterior styling, though when hustled into tighter corners, you won’t mistake the Accord Coupe for an Integra Type R.



As it was in the previous generation, the current car’s 24-valve, i-VTEC 3.5-litre V6 is remarkably smooth and when not being caned, is quiet too. Tootling along on the highway, it’s not uncommon to look down and be surprised to see the Accord cruising along serenely in fifth gear instead of sixth.

Drop down a gear or two and stomp the accelerator and the free-revving six-pot snarls up to redline with a refined but ripping soundtrack.

While modern turbo engines seem to produce a wave of low-end, lag-free torque making V6s feel more like V8s, Honda’s lively mechanical mill is an incredibly fun engine to wring out time and again. Plus, remembering that it’s a Honda means there’s a pretty good chance that nothing’s going to break no matter how many times the tach needle sweeps around to redline.

Honda would also like you to know that they’re a good, environment-friendly company too and have built efficiency features into the Accord. Despite wanting to hear the V6 sing to redline every chance I could muster, the car still delivered under 10 L/100 km consumption rate. Not bad at all and I must confess, I completely ignored the “Eco” button on the dashboard.

Expectedly, the Accord’s six-speed manual is a delight to operate. Smooth, crisp, and precise, this is definitely the same company that made the rifle-bolt-precise S2000 shifter. Clutch action is light with just the right amount of travel to make shifts slick and easy. Revs will ‘hang’ a little between shifts, but not so much as to be annoying.

Value and Features

The impressive styling and excellent powertrain are enough to make the 2014 Accord Coupe V6 a tremendous value at just over $35,000, but with the technology Honda has loaded into this car, it becomes an absolute screaming deal.

Safety features like forward collision and lane departure warnings are costly items built into “high tech” option packages for many manufacturers. On the Accord EX-L they’re standard fare. So are a thoroughly modern navigation system, integrated Bluetooth audio system that has pre-programmed email/text responses to help prevent motorists from typing while they drive and an audio system with Aha cloud-based radio functionality. This is state of the art, folks.

Honda’s revolutionary LaneWatch blind-spot monitoring – now found on the Civic too – was pioneered on the Accord last year. Many cars now feature a blind-spot warning light/beep, but Honda has gone to the trouble of adding a small, wide-angle camera to the passenger-side exterior mirror. When signaling a lane change, the view from the camera shows up on the large nav-screen display.

Admittedly I first found it to be gimmicky but quickly grew to incorporate a quick glimpse at the screen into my blind-spot check. Shoulder check, mirror, then screen, then make the change. A note of caution about this feature though: the local Honda dealership quoted the replacement cost of that mirror at just shy of $700 plus labour! Clip that mirror backing into a tight parking space and you could be looking at a thousand-dollar ‘oops’.

 

Competition

Currently the competition for Honda’s Accord Coupe V6 is pretty limited. There’s no new Altima Coupe yet and Toyota’s Solara has been deceased for years. A V6 Camaro is competitive on price and power, but falls short for refinement and features for the money.   Although a more sporting alternative, the Hyundai Genesis 3.8 GT is also stylish, refined and brings rear-wheel-drive dynamics to the table, but at the expense of practicality and space. The soon-to-arrive Mustang V6 or turbo four-cylinder might be the best alternative especially if you’re unwilling to accept your performance coupe with anything other than rear-wheel-drive.

When it arrived on the scene for 2013, Honda’s Accord sedan collected kudos and congratulations from all over the media while its sportier coupe sibling mostly sits quietly in the wings. The reality is that the coupe deserves just as much attention as the sedan for being a sensational achievement for Honda, but also for its own merit as a fun driver’s car as well.

The 2014 Honda Accord V6 Coupe not only makes an ideal choice to spend your employer’s money on, it makes for a brilliant value worthy of spending your own hard-earned cash too.

 

Exterior Styling: 4/5

Interior Design: 4.5/5

Performance: 4/5

Comfort: 4.5/5

Fuel Economy: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

 

Pricing: 2014 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L V6 Navi

Base Price: $35,555

Options: None

Destination: $1,695

A/C Tax: $100

Price as tested: $37,350

 

Competitors:

BMW 428i

Chevrolet Camaro

Dodge Challenger

Ford Mustang

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Volkswagen CC

 

Although saddled with a front-wheel-drive platform shared with its sedan sibling, the Accord Coupe is nevertheless a rewarding sports... 8/12/2014 6:00:04 AM