As regular readers of the TOV probably know, the arrival of the '03 Accord was preceded by a good bit of hype, and more than a little controversy. The hype can be attributed to all the promises surrounding the "most radical Accord ever". With the 7th generation Accord, Honda prefaced its debut with promises of aggressive styling, more power, better efficiency, and sportier handling. The controversy began brewing when spy photos started appearing on the internet, quite possibly peaking when we posted some of our own exclusive spy shots back in June. To say the photos were met with mixed reactions would be an understatement.
Fast forward six months (yeah, it took us that long), to today, when Honda delivered an early Christmas gift to the TOV in the form of a shiny new Graphite Pearl 2003 Accord EX V6 Sedan. Prior to today, I've had two brief opportunities to drive the new Accord (both cars were also EX V6 models), and my initial impressions were quite favorable. Since this morning, I've driven the car quite a bit, over many different types of road. So far, I'm holding the line on my earliest impression - the new Accord really is a solid car.
My favorite aspect of the car so far has to be the drivetrain. The newly reworked 3.0 is silky smooth, the transmission shifts with fluidity and logic, and the gear ratios seem to be perfectly spaced to best take advantage of the J30s power curve (which is a thing of beauty). This car really moves - my gut feel is that it might even be quicker than my 2002 TL Type S. It might not quite match up with the TL-S right off the line, but once rolling this car gathers speed like nobody's business, and it does so with impeccable manners. Especially appreciated is the roll-on acceleration, from virtually any speed. Where the TL-S is saddled with ridiculously tall gearing in the upper 3 gears, the Accord delights with its seemingly effortless ability to slingshot you past slower moving traffic. It does so with such limited drama that if you're not minding the speedometer you will find yourself traveling at least 10-15mph faster than you would otherwise guess.
The new Accord also impresses with its refinement. Road noise is kept to a minimum, and everything operates with a level of fluidity that I've not experienced in past Hondas or even Acuras. Ride quality is superb, without too much of a sacrifice in the way of handling. In fact, I was rather impressed by how athletic the car felt on the 2-lane twisties I traversed today. I'm not going to tell you that this car is a 4-door S2000, but I still had quite a bit of fun with it today.
Next installment - We dyno test it!