UK CAR Reviews: Honda Coupe 3.0 24V 2000


The anti Honda bikers used to say "Abscess makes the Fart go Honda" a derogatory nonsense deriding Hondas bland bikes, long since displaced by Hondas ever forward technological dominance.

 

The cars used to be fairly bland too, then Honda got serious about image, and NSX, VTEC, Type R killed those notions forever.

Hmmmm what’s this then a delicately styled lightweight aerodynamic Coupe, with a screaming type R motor beloved by hooligans.

Hardly, how about a chunky body driven by a big oh so smoooooooth V6 with masses of grunt before 6000rpm. Not really what we expect from Honda nowadays. But oh so nice anyway.

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Im not a big fan of the chunky bodystyles currently adorning cars everywhere. They look fine on your saloons, but on coupes in not sure it quite works, still this thing hasn’t quite gone to the letter box windows and big fat rump trend that everyone else seems to be following. So if many coupes have just gone a little avant garde for your tastes you might be able to live with this one. Still it doesn’t look quite as sophisticated as that master of understated elegance the 3 series coupe and that may be a big problem as when in doubt in this market sector the sensible choice would always be the BeeMer.

Of course your average BMW owner would sneer down their nose at a Japanese coupe. The Honda badge still does not carry the cachet of the premium European brands and that’s a shame because without exception Honda design and build quality pieces of engineering for the masses which function to a level of reliable perfection few others can match.

 

Whilst the looks may not catch the eye at least there are grating Japanese styling faux pas to deal with. Honda has long since perfected the art of making cars acceptable to the European palate. It still looks a big beast though.

Despite being in the death throes of winter my iced up fingers can bend enough to nudge the remote key fob which operates the door locks and deadlocks which unwind with a gratifying and reassuringly long loud thud. The door opens leaving the sight of an enticing yet simple interior. Light leather seats draw you in. Sitting in place the seats are firm and quite narrow, (fine by me) but well supportive to the sides. Electric drive adjusts the seat the perfection as you settle in and survey your surroundings.

The trim is as usual perfectly executed. The door trims do that pleated leather appearance, although with the minimum pleats and overlap (probably saving part of a cow per car). Despite the coupe name and aspirations there is none of the in vogue carbon alike, or polished aluminium alike trim. This is a mature approach to the coupe market. Less in your face and more long term satisfaction.

 

Biggest disappointment is the dash clocks, huge, clear, readable, no nonsense, boring to the extreme and seemingly in place to suit the most myopic of drivers. Sure I want to know how fast I'm going, but I do not need figures 2 inches high to see them from 2 feet. Still it probably the same clocks as every other Honda and probably saves loads of dosh in the supply chain.The engine fires up first time (it is a Honda) with a light wheeze and as the engine settles down I adjust the Heater. Digital temperature up to Fires of Hell, Circulation to Auto and flick on the heated seat. Soon I'm bathed across the face in Caribbean warmth and my bum is being toasted to gas mark 3.

 

 

 

The lusty V6 pulls away with no fuss and hauls us along the twisting side roads with barely a whisper. Even way down the Rev range the engine pulls happily and strongly. And cruises on minute throttle openings as we glide around town.

Press down harder though and whilst still retaining it whispering composure the rev counter glides around the clock with ever increasing alarcity, stepping off over 4000rpm with real conviction, and hauling you to highly illegal speeds very quickly indeed. Or as our PC friends would put it accelerating swiftly to the legal limits with large safety margins to use when overtaking slow moving traffic.

The engine packs plenty of punch, and packs it in the right places, when you could have grown tired of revving the nuts of f a small bore Vtec four banger, The big six will provide the same go for no effort.

24 valve Sixes are not the most straight forward of engines and with all the cams belts and valves involved in this motor it’s a good job Honda engines have a reliability record second to none.

Just to make it doubly easy is a faultless autobox. Devoid of masses of gadgets and serpentine gates it simply delivers motion in a fluid and fuss free manner the changes between top and next down being so smooth as to slip by unnoticed. Ive had autos before and rarely used the manual override this it the same, I don’t need to bother so I don’t, It works fine as it is. Of course the engines flexibility helps here a good spread of torque means the box is not constantly searching around for the best response.

 

Despite the power the chassis hides its front wheel drive pretty well. Sure huge Gas or slippy roads will have the tyres chirping but little else. The drive loads never seems to get fed back to the steering which is good at face value but whether Honda have engineered the unwanted feedback from the system, or just all feedback is debatable.

The steering is light, very light at parking speeds but seems to lack any real feedback from the road. It also seems very low geared and slightly vague at the straight-ahead position. It probably suits 99% of people 99.9% of the time, it's just a little devoid of personality. Just like the steering wheel which bar the usual uprightness and large size is the usual air bagged leather clad lump of plastic seen in other Hondas with no attention paid to making it feel a little bit special. Which is a shame as the steering wheel is the most tactile part of the car and can be a big selling point, at least to the sados who like that kind of thing. And there are lots of them.

The perceived size does not present any problems driving about, though visibility to the front was a small problem as I tried to park it up in a very tight space. The Mirrors give an excellent view from all windows including that great coupe bugbear the rear.

On the Ride side the suspension seemed well suited to European roads, it resisted body roll well, though the suspension was felt slightly on the firm side for the pock marked moon craters we British describe as B roads.

The Japanese are never shy when it comes to equipping their cars. And the Accord carries all the sensible gadgets you could really want and probably a few you don’t. Honda always seem to be the best of the Japanese Marques when it comes to labelling switches and stalks and thankfully shy away from the Moron friendly labelling and overkill so beloved by many others. Everything is of course electrically powered so even the most feeble can adjust everything without moving their trousers from the Bum heater.

As a practical proposition the coupe stacked up quite well, the rear seats actually have some legroom which is a novelty for many coupes. And the boot looks large enough for most coupe users.

 

Hondas are very well secured and have all the latest safety features. The alloy wheels come standard with locking nuts, the car is immobilised by a small chip in the key. This allows only the correct key to start the car. Even the rear seats have 3 x 3 point seat belts, strange as it is not the biggest car in the back and three people i'm sure would struggle to fit unless they were child size. The Coupe also has standard side impact protection airbags everywhere should you need them and a very efficient braking system complete with ABS.

As a buying proposition it really depends what your in the market for. If you're after a sporty thriller you could find many better options. However, if you want Coupe cachet combined with reasonable practicality and the ease of driving of a Nissan Micra then this could be the car for you. A coupe for the sensible that you can let your granny go shopping in without worry. The badge may not mean much in the bragging stakes down the pub, but on the road it means the car will rarely let you down and there is nothing more satisfying than a car with stone axe reliability.  
    

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