SEE ALSO: Honda Buyer's Guide
Last year there would have been little reason to review both the Honda Accord sedan and coupe, as the coupe was little more than a 2- door sedan. There would have been no review at all of a V6 coupe, as there was no such car. That was last year. This year, the Accord line is completely new. Although the sedan and coupe share mechanical and chassis components, they are completely different in sheet metal and character.
The 1998 Accord Coupe is, particularly in upscale V6 form, a personal coupe for the real world. It has its own distinctive style, and comforts that approach those of more expensive luxury coupes. It is bigger and less narrowly-focused than a sports coupe, but sacrifices little in the way of performance and handling. It has plenty of room both inside and in the trunk, and is not at all thirsty for fuel. It fits perfectly between Honda's other coupe offerings, the smaller, sportier Honda Prelude and slightly larger and more luxurious Acura CL.
The 1998 Accord Coupe is available with a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine or a 3.0-liter V6. Both are new this year and use Honda's patented VTEC variable valve timing and lift technology for excellent power characteristics at all engine speeds. Two trim levels are offered with each engine. Even the lowest-level LX 4-cylinder car is well- equipped, with standard equipment including but not limited to power accessories, air conditioning, and cruise control. The top-of-the-line EX V6 comes mighty close to luxury appointment.
I sampled a new Accord EX V6 Coupe recently, and found it to have a wonderful combination of unique style, sporty performance, room, and near luxury comfort. It had all of the advantages of a coupe and none of the usual disadvantages.
APPEARANCE: The Accord Coupe finally has its own distinctive style, and it says "sporty elegance". It is an angular wedge-shaped car that shares only headlights with the Accord Sedan. The coupe measures nearly two inches less than the sedan in overall length, wheelbase, and height. The body parts ahead of the windshield -- the grille, front bumper fascia, and hood -- are similar to those of the sedan, but subtly different. There is no similarity at all behind the windshield. The coupe's shorter passenger cabin has a well-raked rear window for a sporty look. The well-defined beltline is much lower than that of the sedan, and the highest point of the body is over the rear wheels. The coupe's taillight treatment is more than slightly reminiscent of its ultra-high-performance cousin, the Acura NSX. A touch of elegance is given by chrome trim around the side windows. LX models have steel wheels with full covers while EX models have alloy wheels.
COMFORT: The '98 Accord Coupe is a very convenient size, not too big and not too small. Its size makes it quite capable of being an only car. The back seat holds real people, not just parcels, and folds down with a 60/40 split for extra cargo ability. The 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat of the V6 Coupe automatically moves forward when the seat back release lever is raised to facilitate access to the rear seat. The front seats of the coupe are different from those of the sedan, with higher side bolsters for better lateral support in spirited driving. The instrument panel is the well-designed one also found in the new Accord Sedan. There are useful storage spaces throughout the interior, and the trunk is quite large for a coupe. Although both trim levels of the V6 coupe are well-equipped, the EX is more upscale with leather upholstery and steering wheel cover, woodgrain trim, automatic climate control, and an in-dash CD player.
SAFETY: All 1998 Honda Accords meet or exceed worldwide safety regulations. They have dual airbags, an engine immobilizer system, 5- mph bumpers, and 3-point safety belts for all occupants.
ROADABILITY: Because the Accord V6 Coupe is a larger, heavier car than the Honda Prelude, it is not quite as nimble on a good curvy road. That is no insult, as few cars handle like the current Prelude. The Accord V6 Coupe comes close, and has good handling characteristics, with a firm, sporty ride and good road feel. Credit a rigid chassis and the trademark Honda fully independent double wishbone suspension. Standard 4-wheel antilock disc brakes make sure it stops as well as it goes. The new Accord V6 Coupe is a great all-around car that works very well for all daily tasks and provides plenty of fun when the time is right.
PERFORMANCE: The Accord V6 Coupe's "sporty" rather than "sports" intent is evident in its powertrain. Although the 4-cylinder car is offered with a 5-speed manual gearbox, the V6 comes only with an automatic. It is the same engine and transmission as found in the Accord V6 Sedan, and not a bad choice, even for spirited driving. The automatic is excellent, quick and smooth-shifting, and uses Honda's patented "Grade Logic" control to select shift points more accurately. The 3.0-liter V6's VTEC design gives it strong performance at all engine speeds, and "shifting optional" torque. It has 200 horsepower, 30 more than the old V6, and sips regular unleaded at a typically low Honda rate. Fast, fun, and frugal...must be a Honda.
CONCLUSIONS: Few coupes of any size or description combine style, fun, and practicality like the new Honda Accord Coupe.
SPECIFICATIONS Base Price $ 24,150 Price As Tested $ 24,635 Engine Type single overhead cam 24-valve V6 with VTEC variable valve timing & lift Engine Size 3.0 liters/183 cu. in. Horsepower 200 @ 5500 Torque (lb-ft) 195 @ 4700 Transmission 4-speed electronically- controlled automatic Wheelbase / Length 105.1 in./186.8 in. Curb Weight 3241 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 16.2 Fuel Capacity 17.1 gal. Fuel Requirement unleaded regular Tires P205/60 VR16 Michelin MXV4 Plus XSE Brakes, front/rear vented disc/solid disc, antilock standard Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone with coil springs/independent multilink double wishbone with coil springs Drivetrain front engine, front wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 21 / 28 / 23 0 to 60 mph 7.8 sec 1/4 mile (E.T.) 16.1 sec OPTIONS AND CHARGES Floor Mats $ 90 Destination Charge $ 395