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The Honda Accord Coupe is a good-looking car and a solid, reliable choice, but it comes up a little short on stirring emotions.
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The Honda Accord Coupe is a good-looking car and a solid, reliable choice, but it comes up a little short on stirring emotions.

2011 Honda Accord Coupe 3.5 EX

This sport-luxury two-door drives Neil Vorano to distraction, but not in the way you might think.

Procrastination. It's the bane of a writer, but it's what we do best, really. Why do now what you can put off until deadline? And there's plenty out there to make the situation worse, what with the internet and all its diversions being just a tab away on the computer.

I'm struggling with procrastination right now. Really struggling. Usually I can sit down and fire off a car review pretty easily; if it's a great car or a terrible car, the story really writes itself (don't tell my editor that). But when it's a car that doesn't really raise any emotions, that's a good, solid machine but not outstanding, then what? How do you make it an entertaining yet informative story for you, our dear readers?

And so it is with the new Honda Accord Coupe. After giving it back, I'm still not sure what to make of it. Let me close Facebook right now and search my soul.

Well, to start off, it admittedly is a good-looking car. It carries over the sharp angles of its four-door sibling, but the higher, muscular rear end and a different treatment for the front really makes this a standout from the saloon; it definitely looks sportier, but carries over the quality construction that Honda does so well; all the panel lines are straight and the paint is flawless.

And, it's big. It just looks like a large car sitting there, and if you're looking for a big, two-door executive vehicle, this wouldn't be a bad choice in your driveway. But do people want a big, luxury coupe in this price bracket?

I think I'll get a coffee and think about it; be back in a second.

At least that generous size is reflected in the cabin. There's more than enough room for four adults inside, with plenty of elbow room and wide seats (though I would have preferred a bit more plush in the leather chairs). Even with the sunroof, only the tallest of occupants will brush their hair on the headliner. In fact, it feels almost too spacious; I'd prefer a more cosy driving cockpit, but the Accord is more about luxury than sport.

Excuse me, but I really need to check out some movie trailers on iTunes for a minute.

And it does have the luxury feel inside - to a point. The leather is confined to the seats, steering wheel, gear selector and a bit of the doors; the rest is pretty much softer-touch plastic, mostley in black with a few aluminium-look plastic accents. It's not what I'd call a creative display, but it's a cohesive and straightforward layout. And that's even with the myriad of buttons on the centre of the dash to control the stereo, sat/nav and climate; it's quite imposing at first, and I'm not a fan of such a cluttered dashboard, but the buttons are all labelled clearly and logically laid out, and it didn't take long to appreciate things like the "return" button that brings you back easily to the main menu on the video display. But it could have been done with more simplicity.

I'm going to stretch my legs a bit. But this story is going well, no?

Disappointing on this higher-end model, however, is that there are no parking sensors or reversing camera, features that are not only very handy but can be found on other, even more lower-end, cars.

Let me just see what my friends are doing on Facebook.

Driving is also a bit of a trade-off, but not in an entirely bad way. It's solid on the motorway with a fairly comfortable, if somewhat firm, ride. And the handling is surprisingly good, with tight, responsive steering. But it feels like a big car in the corners, and it doesn't make a driver want to test its handling limits, which kind of spoils the "sport" part of this "sports-luxury" coupe, doesn't it? There was also a noticeable amount of torque steer on hard acceleration with this front-wheel-drive car, surprising on higher-end models these days.

I'm just going to check my e-mail; it won't take but a few minutes, really, and then I'll be back to writing.

At least there are no complaints with the powertrain. The 3.5L V6 is able if not scintillating. It's quiet, smooth and powerful enough at speed, and it has a feature that turns off three cylinders when cruising, which helps with the fuel economy. In fact, it works so well that the only way I knew it was enabled was when the green "Eco" lit up on the dashboard during operation. And when you need to accelerate quickly, just stomp the throttle and all cylinders fire up seamlessly and instantly. It works very well.

The engine is paired with a five-speed automatic, which sounds antiquated given that many competitors have gone on to six and even seven gears, but it, again, works beautifully. It pops into the right gear whenever you need it, and it has a "sport" feature that holds the gears longer for spritely performance. There are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel but, really, they're not needed given the manner of driving this car will probably see.

All right, focus for the finale.

Overall, the Accord Coupe is a solid, well-made car, and you certainly can't go wrong with the Honda nameplate. But this two-door is neither really sporty nor truly luxurious, and you're giving up the convenience of having those extra doors. It's a car that tries to be too many things, and, in this price bracket, I'm not sure I see the point.

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