People may criticize Honda for sticking to convention too much these days. Their products are obviously gunning after the mainstream market, while the days of the revs-to-9,000 S2000, the stylish efficiency of the CRX or even the oddness of the del Sol, wither away.
But then you remember Honda still makes something so radical, so rare for these times. That would be the Honda Accord Coupe.
Pretty much everyone has given up on making a midsize, front-wheel drive two-door coupe. I have to add “two-door” to “coupe” these days because of things like the four-door Volkswagen CC and the four-door BMW 4-series Gran Coupe.
The Accord is this large thing with two large doors on either side of it, in the vein of your Aunt Estelle’s Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Coupe. Even though it's assembled in the heart of America, the Accord isn’t about button-backed seats covered in velour – that’s just not what it wants to be.
As plush and premium as the 2016 Accord Sedan aspires to be, the Accord Coupe wants to be this sporty, athletic car. It's an Accord for selfish people, or something Americans used to call, a personal luxury car.
You could argue the Accord Coupe looks noticeably better than its sedan counterpart, without sacrificing too much in terms of practicality. Out goes the upright roofline of the sedan in favor of shorter windows and a lower roof that makes the car look chunkier. You also seem to sit a lot lower in the coupe, which contributes to this bathtub effect I don’t care for.
Sure, the rear seats are useless for those who want their rear passengers enter and exit comfortably, but this just means you’ll have an excuse when slovenly people want to carpool with you. As a personal luxury car, the Accord Coupe has looks that say, “I bought this for me and no one else.”
Which makes sense that, for 2016, Honda decided to throw its coupe buyers a bone with the introduction of the full-tilt Touring model on the two-door body style. The trouble is that the Accord Coupe, even in top Touring guise, isn’t exactly luxurious. Like the most expensive Accord sedans, it feels like a Honda with every option thrown at it.
Outside, the LED headlamps add a touch of Acura class, and like every Accord, the interior is well-assembled. At nearly $35,000, the Accord Touring Coupe doesn’t feel special like an Audi A5 would. But again, that’s just not how the Accord does things.
The Accord Coupe I drove had not only the 3.5-liter V6, but also the Honda Factory Performance (HFP) kit that’s a dealer-installed set of springs, wheels and a body kit. Theoretically, this is a recipe to turn this coupe into the modern-day Prelude we so desperately need in the Honda lineup.
On twisty roads outside of San Diego, the Accord Coupe is definitely competent. The steering feel is astonishingly good. With its six-speed automatic, power comes on so smoothly and effortlessly. Push it and you don’t realize how fast you’re going until you look down at the speedometer. Amazing this V6 shares some properties with the outboard motors Honda also makes.
But the car is so damn large and you sit too low in it to the point you never feel comfortable going as fast in turns as you can go. Especially when an Odyssey comes by you the other way.
A bigger problem could be that the V6 makes the front of the car heavy, and while torque steer is well-managed, the Accord isn’t happy doing the twists for too long. Even with the HFP upgrades, the Accord is just better suited to a four-cylinder.
Go back to an interstate and relax, and the Accord settles down nicely. The engine is quiet, the interior is vault-like. The front seats are remarkably comfortable. Even after climbing back into the rear ones ungracefully, your passengers can appreciate the reasonable amount of room back there.
Compared to other coupes still on the market for less than $100,000, the Accord Coupe is so wide that it’s like each occupant has their own zip code. Sitting alone in it,however, the Accord Coupe gives you that warm smug feeling that this footprint big enough for five people has been compromised so the driver can feel cocooned. You feel like it’s all yours.
This, after all, is personal luxury.
I recall a piece that compared the Accord Coupe to an American favorite from the '70s. It works because the Accord Coupe is a completely modern car that pulls the rare trick of being able to simultaneously recall a long-gone time period. Suddenly it’s 1979 and the full-size, American coupe with six-passenger seating feels commonplace, with hundreds of thousands of buyers every year thinking it makes sense to buy an enormous car with only two doors. But because it has humble roots, it’s like pragmatic indulgence.
In fact, the Accord Coupe is probably why there is no more Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Buick Riviera or even Lincoln Mark VIII or Acura Legend Coupe. Everyone who want this kind of large personal luxury car has a rational side and just bought an Accord when it offered so much.
One day, they’ll be forced into a four-door car, so they’ll buy an Accord sedan. Or perhaps they’ve already had four-door Accords and then tell the kids, “You can drive yourselves now, I’m buying a car for myself.” At which point they walk across the Honda lot to get an Accord Coupe.
But it’s the Accord that says, “This is all mine.”
Photos: Zac Estrada / Carscoops