WEST COAST EDITOR MARK VAUGHN: It’s the engine; it’s all about the engine in this 2015 Honda Accord EX-L coupe. The 278-hp 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC 3.5-liter V6 outshines everything else. The fact that it’s dropped into this bland, blob of a body matters only in that the body allows you to experience the joy of hammering the throttle that is attached to it. The J35Y2 is so powerful, smooth and quiet that it really demands another carcass in which to bring it alive -- some kind of Frankenstein race car. I kept imagining different configurations in which this powerplant could be used, most of them mid- or rear-engined: Baja desert racer, offshore power boat, single-seat open-wheeled formula car.
And it has broad, useable power and torque curves, too. The Honda enthusiast website Temple of VTEC put it on a dyno and got 257.7 whp at 6,500 rpm and 235.3 lb-ft of wheel torque from about 2,250 to 5,500 rpm. So it’s getting most of its power and torque to the ground.
The engine so outshines everything else about the car that I almost don’t feel like writing about anything else. But I must. So here goes: there’s, uh, there are some seats inside, and there’s a trunk in back… it has a hood… OK, OK, I’m trying -- more on the car:
It would be nice if the shifter and clutch performed as well as the engine. Instead, you get a kind of lightweight, springy clutch engagement that never really feels smooth and a transmission that feels a lot flimsier than the engine to which it’s attached. The four-cylinder Honda Accord -- also a terrific powerplant -- seems far better mated to its six-speed manual transmission than this V6 does to it. I know we’re always saying short throws are good, but these feel like they’re just not matched to the powerplant. It’s hard to explain. It felt better in the four-cylinder Accord sedan I drove a couple months ago.
The suspension, meanwhile, is too soft and the car feels too top-heavy and prone to rolling over on the sidewalls of the tires whenever pushed. If only the engine weren’t so good the rest of the car would feel well-balanced. As it is the car feels unbalanced, overpowered by the engine. I think I prefer the four-cylinder Accord.
It’s not like there are a lot of choices for the semi-sedate coupe buyer. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe has a much more powerful V6 engine and a sportier feel, not to mention it also has a six-speed manual available. The Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ is a sporty coupe, but it’s down one class in size and power. You might be able to find a single 2013 Altima coupe left on a dealer lot somewhere in America with its four-cylinder and faux GT-R haunches, but you might not.
My recommendation? Find a wrecked V6 Accord Coupe, salvage the engine and build a Baja racer. Who’s with me?
The 2015 Honda Accord EX-L Navi Coupe has a rather interesting interior aroma that you can almost taste.
ASSOCIATE WEST COAST EDITOR BLAKE Z. RONG: This really is the gem of the Accord lineup. Everything I enjoyed about the Accord Sport sedan has been made weightier, more substantial, more focused. It’s amazing what a V6 will do to you: aside from the gobs of buttery-smooth power, the front end is so effortlessly planted, so much traction yet so willing to spin its front tires. (If I didn’t feel guilty that our example was delivered with a mewling 66 miles on its newborn odometer, I would’ve done smoky front-drive burnouts.) The clutch and shifter feel like there’s genuine heft behind them -- solid, reassuring, nearly completely foolproof. And then, when you trounce the throttle, this thing is a monster: a sedate, quiet monster, but one that’ll do the 60 mph thing in around 5 seconds. Heck yes. That’s what 278 hp will do to you, the stealth sports car, a grown-up special with leather and (seriously dated) navigation and a six-speed with a knob shaped like a rolling pin.
Seriously -- I feel like this is the most fun I’ve had in a Honda product since the S2000 CR. I don’t know if that says more about the Honda Motor Corp., or myself.
Since getting behind the wheel of this Accord EX-L Coupe, I’ve noticed tons of Accord Coupes in Los Angeles. Maybe it’s the “Grand Theft Auto” rule: you begin noticing your very car when you’re driving it. People do like the Accord Coupe, and it might just be a combination of the Accord’s sterling reputation and the need for some distinctive coupe style -- with its bustle-back rear and heavy overhangs, the Accord Coupe looks downright Baroque. It reminds me of a second-generation Cadillac Seville, which -- Wikipedia helpfully reminds -- in “hip hop culture, this generation of Sevilles were known as slantbacks.”
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