Forget all that you know about the Accord. More importantly, forget all that you know about your mother's Accord. The V-6, six-speed-prepped, '08 Accord couldn't be any further from it if it tried.
Six-cylinder engines paired with Accords are nothing new. Honda debuted the idea with the fifth-generation model with little fanfare. There was nothing inherently wrong with the C27A engine-also shared with the Legend-but Honda only offered the 2.7L V-6 in automatic trim and, no matter how great the C-series was or wasn't (depending on who you asked), it would always be paired with an automatic. Sixth-generation V-6 models came with the slightly larger J30A but the slush box remained. The introduction of the '03 V-6 model offered a glimpse of that "light at the end of the tunnel" due in part to the optional six-speed manual gearbox robbed from the CL. For five years the seventh-generation, six-speed was dubbed "the enthusiast's Accord" but the '08 redefines what exactly that means. Look at the numbers, but you can't fully appreciate the new Accord coupe without a bit of seat time. Yes, it's been out for a while now, since last September in fact, but appreciating all of this takes time.
We've talked about Honda's 24-valve, 3.5L engine before but not those paired with the manual transmission-they're slightly different. In fact, there's no i-VTEC here. Six-speed-equipped engines benefit only from Honda's tried-and-true VTEC that allows for a separate camshaft profile that kicks in at 5,000 rpm, which means entirely different cylinder heads than the i-VTEC. Instead of Honda's breakthrough Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), this six sports full-time six-cylinder operation and a two-stage, magnesium intake manifold, much like older B18C and H22A engines. Although the 3.5L remains similar to previous V-6s in principle, there are some differences. Take the fuel injectors for instance. Honda's revolutionary new injector nozzles reduce fuel droplet sizes by 34 percent, making for improved atomization and better combustion. The more an injector can spray fuel and not douse it, the better the chance that combustion will occur properly. Honda took care in getting the V-6's intake and exhaust systems just right too. The time was well spent as the notes emitted and the rumble felt when romping on the 3.5L's electronic throttle is the type you'll only find from an opposing bank setup. Heck, there's even power available up to 6,800 rpm.
The five-speed automatic remains the status quo for Accord fans, although a five-speed manual paired with the K-series four-cylinder engine is also available along with a six-speed, close-ratio manual gearbox for the V-6, which is what we opted for. The six-speed's short throw, close-cut gears make hanging around VTEC in-between shifts relatively effortless, ensuring easy passing. As always, Honda also considered the driver. Despite the V-6's enthusiast mindset the dual-mass flywheel was designed to dampen engine vibrations and cut back noise while the compact clutch continually self adjusts for a consistent pedal stroke. Oh, and a reverse lockout feature prevents six-speed noobs from jamming it into reverse at 80 mph.
Like previous Accords, the '08 is heavy, measuring in at 3,459 pounds when equipped with navigation, which means it's a couple hundred pounds portlier than its predecessor. All of this extra weight isn't for nothing though. The new Accord is bigger in every way: height, width, track, wheelbase, even the wheels are bigger with standard-issue 18s. Fortunately the higher-output engine and close-ratio gearbox make the additional weight a bit moot. The new Accord handles well but don't forget that we're talking about an Accord here. Honda lowered its center of gravity by 10mm making for flatter handling when turning and increased its roll centers slightly, which makes for less body roll and a flatter contact patch for the tires and, yes, it is noticeable compared to the last generation's Accord. The front suspension differs little from other Honda multi-link setups but the rear is a different story. Each of the rear's arms and links are mounted to a floating subframe that helps reduce vibration noise-more of that comfort stuff, but welcomed nonetheless. The chassis surrounding the suspension mounting points is also stiffer, contributing to its 40 percent greater lateral rigidity when compared to the older Accord. The brakes have been addressed as well. In fact, this is the first Accord to feature four-wheel discs on all trims. Stopping is fun again and the 11.8-inch front rotors ensure as much. Honda also braced the master cylinder to the firewall in an effort to ensure a firm brake pedal and increased the pedal's ratio from 2.6:1 to 2.9:1 for more braking force without having to increase pedal effort.
Part of what makes the '08 Accord seem so much like the enthusiast's Accord is its steering-at 2.56 turns, lock-to-lock, as opposed to its predecessor's 2.98 turns, steering is quicker, more like an ITR than an Accord. You can't help but notice the steering's responsiveness either. This can be blamed on Honda's variable gear ratio (VGR) steering, in a good way. Unlike conventional steering racks that turn the front wheels at constant ratios, despite the amount the steering wheel's turned, VGR allows for varying rates-when the driver inputs a small amount of turn-in, the tires turn a small amount quickly, but when a significant amount of turn-in is given, the tires also turn quickly, making for improved maneuverability at any speed.
Honda claims the 10.0:1 compression ratio V-6 to be good for peaks of 268 hp at 6,800 rpm and 248 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Fair enough. To be sure though, we mounted the coupe to Bisimoto's Dynapack dynamometer. Taking drivetrain losses into account, the numbers match up with results measuring in at 248 hp at just over 6,000 rpm and 234 lb-ft of torque at just below 4,000 rpm. More importantly, Bisimoto's air/fuel ratio results point to the possibilities of this particular Accord V-6. Honda is somewhat notorious for building "safe" vehicles-not just from a crash test perspective but from that of avoiding engine mishaps. As such, the company programs in extremely rich air/fuel ratios so as to avoid lean conditions. We noticed this with the '06 Civic Si, where the folks at Hondata were able to muster an extra 30 hp out of the K's midrange. We expect similar results, if not better, out of the Accord as Honda implemented a significant rich condition from 4,000 rpm onward. No matter though, the '08, six-speed Accord is our kind of Accord: quick, responsive, fun...not your mother's Accord.