AUSTIN, Tex. -- On a boulevard following meandering Barton Creek through suburban stretches in the capital of Texas, a slinky coupe variation of Honda's popular Accord series in expanded format with a six-pack powerplant translated through six gears of a manual shifter quickly demonstrates it can romp along a wiggly course and keep company with the sporty set.
Can an Accord -- perennial best-seller from Honda but historically so homogenized in sheetmetal styling and handling characteristics in order to placate the broadest spectrum of buyers -- act like a sporty car?
Well, if the definition of sporty automotive action means soupy throttle response and an aggressive attitude when tackling tight-fisted turns, then, yes, Honda does indeed build a sporty Accord.
Revitalized on a stiff new platform for the eighth generation of designs which measure bigger and better than any previous iterations, new Accord bears athletic characteristics with the spice of a sleek coupe rendition which spins in a different direction from the sedan.
In the United States the Accord model traces to 1976 with the roll-out of a three-door hatchback Accord CVCC in the itty-bitty compact class, but a four-door sedan version followed by 1979.
In November of 1982, production of Accords commenced at Honda's vast assembly plant pitched in the heart of American at Marysville, Ohio.
By 1988, a two-door coupe version was added to the Accord series, while a V6 engine option came in 1995.
For issues of 2008, the wheelbase length on a new Accord Coupe grows 2.2 inches longer to 107.9 inches, as the width of the front/rear wheel track expands by an inch or more. These additions in wheelbase length and track width forge a larger platform for the car, which sets up a larger structure with more space in the passenger compartment.
The longer and wider cabin creates more legroom and elbow room for riders. Cabin layout shows a pair of form-fitting bucket seats up front and a bench for three adults in back with improved padding on the center seat section.
Exterior styling for the redesigned Accord Coupe looks sleek but angular and edgy with a squared-off prow and classy beveled grille.
The new exterior package reflects subtle lines and subdued paint colors in the manner of a sophisticated -- and expensive -- vehicle, as stylists point the Accord upscale toward a prestigious breed.
Aboard Accord are new front-wheel-drive (FWD) powertrains in four-cylinder and V6 formats, plus new mechanical systems to improve ride and handling traits, and more standard content in safety equipment.
Accord LX-S is the entry edition packing a four-cylinder engine with a standard five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission and cloth upholstery on seats in the cabin.
Accord EX gains fancy features like Honda's active noise cancellation equipment, a power moonroof, heated mirrors and a CD changer in the dash.
Accord Coupe for 2008 culminates with the EX-L V6 edition packing a zippy V6 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission, or the EX-L V6 6-Speed with the V6 and a six-speed manual stick.
The base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder plant fitted with Honda's dual-cam i-VTEC (intelligent variable value timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain system.
It generates 190 hp at 7000 rpm with torque of 162 lb-ft at 4400 rpm.
For Accord EX-L V6 and the EX-L V6 6-Speed, a new high-tech 3.5-liter V6 engine also uses Honda's dual-cam i-VTEC valvetrain system.
The V6 scores high muscle numbers -- 268 hp at 6200 rpm plus 248 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm.
Further, it employs the next generation of Honda's variable cylinder management (VCM) device to conserve on fuel by modifying the number of engine cylinders at work.
Honda's previous VCM system simply cut by half the number of cylinders -- down from six to three -- when boosted power was not needed. By contrast, the new VCM on Accord can switch from six to four or down to three cylinders, depending on the power demand at any particular moment. And the operation is totally automatic and virtually transparent to a driver, with a dashboard light (the Eco lamp) glowing when the VCM is at work.
Federal EPA fuel consumption numbers on Accord's new engines look good -- up to 31 miles per gallon for highway travel with the four-cylinder plant and 28 mpg for the V6.
On Accord's unibody structure the center of gravity for the vehicle has decreased by 10 mm with a reduced height for the engine's center of mass.
A stamped steel box-section subframe cradles the front suspension system to temper noise and vibration.
The taut suspension system employs a double wishbone design up front with modifications to enhance ride and handling traits by reducing fore-aft body movement when accelerating and braking and checking lateral sway when rounding corners.
At the rear, a compact multi-link suspension has stamped steel upper arms with tubular steel lower links and nitrogen gas-filled dampers.
Brakes involve power-assisted ventilated discs up front and solid discs in back.
Then there are electronic ties to Honda's vehicle stability assist (VSA) equipment operating in conjunction with an anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and electronic brake assist (EBA) plus a traction control system (TCS).
Cabin safety gear includes curtain-style side air bags and active head restraints on front buckets.
Honda's price chart for the 2008 Accord Coupe starts at $21,860 for a LX-S four-cylinder edition with manual five-speed transmission, or $22,660 with the automatic. The Accord Coupe EX-L V6 lists for $28,310 with automatic or manual gearbox, or $30,510 with a package of navigation equipment aboard.