If you’re in the market for a mid-size coupé that’s fun to drive, and is big enough to squeeze in four passengers, you’ve got several options, ranging from the Mustang, Camaro and the Challenger to the more upmarket Cadillac ATS Coupé or BMW 4 Series. However, choices in the more affordable front-wheel drive variety of mid-size two-doors are few. Nissan has discontinued its Altima Coupé and Toyota never brought its Solara here. In fact, the only decent option in this class now is the Honda Accord Coupé. It’s always been one of my favourite mid-size coupés in its price range, and now for 2016, Honda has spruced up the car’s looks, revised its suspension tuning, added a few additional trims for the cabin, and a suite of driver-assistance features.
Unlike many two-door versions of saloons, the Coupé doesn’t just look like a shorter version of the Accord saloon with two doors less. Apart from the sloping roofline, the sculpted flanks, and a differently styled rear, the front end is also distinguished now with a revised grille, LED headlights, daytime running lights and fog lights. The rear also gets new, restyled LED taillights.
Hondas have always been great when it comes to build quality and interior appointments. It’s no different in the Accord Coupé. The overall layout of the cabin is elegant and workmanship is top notch. The Coupé also retains Honda’s now familiar dual-screen set-up, with a 7.7in panel at the top acting as an information screen and as a display for the blind-spot camera incorporated into the passenger side mirror.
Speaking of the camera, I strongly feel this is one feature all carmakers should adopt and implement in every model irrespective of its size or price, as it makes a huge difference by giving you a better view of the right lane and your blind spot than you’d get from the mirror. That, too, without you having to take your eyes off your line of sight. This eliminates the need for the driver to look at the passenger side mirror at all and makes it redundant. Meanwhile, the secondary screen placed beneath it acts as a touchscreen interface for the infotainment system, which now offers smartphone integration as well.
Our tester here is the top-of-the-line model powered by the same naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 that does service in the top-spec saloon. Pushing out 278bhp and 342Nm of torque, and coupled with a slick six-speed automatic transmission, the Accord Coupé’s power delivery is remarkably smooth and linear. Although torque peaks at 4,900rpm, the six-pot shows ample vigor down in the rev range, and can surprise you with its direct and instant throttle response. If there’s a downside to the engine, it’s fuel efficiency, which, even with the large green Economy button pressed, isn’t that great. During our test, it returned an average of 12.2 litres per 100km, which is relatively thirsty for a V6.
The ride quality offered by the MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension is supple and refined, maintaining a decent balance between comfort and sporty. Note that I said sporty, which is very different to sportscar-like. Although straight-line stability is great and it feels balanced and poised around turns, handling characteristics aren’t as sharp or engaging as that of a Mustang or a Camaro. But that doesn’t take away from the highly entertaining dynamics and the impressive steering response of the Accord Coupé considering its price range.
The most noteworthy change this year is the Honda Sensing package, which is a set of driver-assistance features first introduced in the all-new Pilot SUV, and now set to make its way into all models. These include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, collision mitigation braking, and road departure mitigation. During our test we found these systems to be a bit rudimentary compared to those in rival cars, but then something is always better than nothing.
The 2016 Accord offers a mix of conservative good looks, responsive handling, a tranquil ride, a comfortable cabin and comprehensive set of new features, all at a starting price of Dh96,900. It is an excellent choice for the middle-aged, middle-income family man who wants to have a taste of fun behind the wheel of a mid-size coupé without having to burn a hole in his pocket.