DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: On paper, and after the first few miles of driving, the 2014 Honda Accord EX-L V6 coupe with a stick shift comes across a bit like a bargain Audi S5. The engine makes glorious, cammy noises, the transmission is as good as anything on the market today and the spec sheet implies a helluva good time available under the driver’s right foot.

Problem is, when driven hard, the Accord is severely let down by its front-drive architecture. It’s a fast car -- surprisingly so -- but it’s just not that fun to drive. Hard acceleration while turning, and especially on less-than-perfect surfaces (like every street and highway in Detroit) yields tons of torque steer forcing you to wrestle the Accord like an old Mazda Mazdaspeed 3. Thing is, it doesn’t have the quick steering of a “hot hatch,” so keeping things under control is a less-than-precise affair. There’s also a fair amount of dive on hard braking, and the whole chassis is too softly sprung for real shenanigans. The Accord coupe is great on the open road and has tons of power for passing and on-ramps, but don’t fool yourself into thinking this is any kind of sports car.

Since it’s not a track machine, what does it offer? There’s tons of room for a coupe, for one thing. The trunk is massive, and there’s real legroom for two (smaller) folks in back even when adults are parked up front. My elementary-age children had no problem climbing into the back and over each other, sitting with their legs actually in the foot wells, unlike in some other more-sporting coupes from German and American manufacturers.

There’s also the typically excellent Honda outward visibility, with huge windows and deceptively thin pillars keeping the coupe “tunnel vision” at bay. Combined with a rearview camera, it’s easy to see all around the car, and Honda’s brilliant LaneWatch system keeps an eye on the right lane when you’re turning or passing. However, the rear window is large enough (and flat enough) that I was wishing for a rear wiper on a couple of dewy mornings.

One last note for folks who may have sensitive noses or allergies: Our Accord tester was outgassing something fierce even after 1,500 miles; the chemical smell was strong enough that I consistently drove it with the moonroof open, yet my nose still burned and my clothes reeked of the car several hours after leaving it. I’m sure the odors would dissipate with time, but Honda needs to ask its interior suppliers to take it down a notch…or at least supply a canary with each car.

The 2014 Honda Accord EX-L Navi Coupe has a rather interesting interior aroma that you can almost taste.

ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: The task of building cars is surely a thankless one. Automakers like Honda tirelessly labor to produce a value-packed, attractive vehicle and then we sit here ripping it apart.

Take this Accord EX-L V6 Coupe. It’s got a great engine, a good manual transmission (!), it’s loaded with features and pricing even seems reasonable at $33,190 given the mix of horsepower and tech. It even looks a bit like a Mercedes-Benz S-class coupe, with some really nice details incorporated here and there! And it’s roomy. What more could one ask for?

Well, maybe a sport package, to start with. As Andy notes, you’re going to find the limits of this car fairly quickly if you treat it like a budget S5. Or even A5. The V6 provides plenty of usable power over a wide range, but unfortunately, punching the throttle immediately lightens up the front end. This only intensifies torque steer.

Plus, there’s a lot of body roll. Handling is more or less neutral in tight corners under spirited, if not aggressive, driving, but there’s enough roll and cushiness to sap confidence. “Stiffer suspension and bushings” are promised in every FWD sport package on the market; I could see how something so simple really could improve things here.

For the casual enthusiast, someone who wants reliable, value-oriented transportation but also appreciates good design and gets a kick out of stepping on the throttle from time to time, the Accord EX-L Coupe will represent a very good, well-balanced deal. The backroad-carving gasoline addict is going to discover this car’s limits fairly quickly.

To Honda’s credit, it’s not pretending this car is anything but what it is -- a good, comfortable everyday driver with certifiable style. Don’t ask anything more of the Accord EX-L coupe, and you won’t be disappointed.

PS: That off-gassing smell (or taste -- honestly, it was that thick) that Andy mentioned really is something Honda needs to address. It’s seriously going to prove to be a turn-off for prospective buyers. If you’re not familiar with scent, it isn’t the familiar, happy “new car smell” of yore. It’s a weird chemical taste that just somehow seems like a harbinger of cancer (and I realize that the old “new car smell” wasn’t necessarily healthy). Not good.

Oddly, the Acura TLXs I recently drove smelled totally neutral. Not sure if Acuras are built with slightly less odorous materials or if the PR team had the foresight to somehow vent the cabins, but seriously Honda -- and Toyota, and Hyundai/Kia -- fix this for your own sake. 

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