In steady-state cornering -- staying off the throttle in corners -- the two cars handle at the same level. Both coupes are equally willing to turn in, though the Accord has slightly more substantial steering feel and feedback than the Mustang. Assistant editor David Zenlea was surprised that the cars felt so similar in their capability. "I'd take the Mustang," he declared. "But it'd be more of a style decision than the performance advantage that I expected from the Mustang." Of course, if you ask the cars to accelerate midcorner, the Accord's front wheels quickly becomes overwhelmed and squeal for mercy. The Mustang is much happier to oblige, following the line without any rear-wheel-drive, oversteering antics. Breaking traction from the Pirelli rubber in a turn takes concerted effort. With its multilink rear suspension and softer tuning, the Accord rides better over all surfaces, but the Mustang's live rear axle truly only feels like a liability on the roughest roads. The stiffer performance package suspension proves to be tolerable in relaxed driving and is only jarring over large bumps at low speeds.
In picking a winner, we have to admit that we fall for the smoke and mirrors of the Mustang, both literally and figuratively. A burnout just looks silly coming from the front wheels and we're rather fond of Ford's blind-spot mirrors. Then there's the classic shape that equates to instant street cred and frequent compliments. You'd never get that in a Honda Accord coupe, even if it was slathered in Ford's ostentatious grabber blue paint. However, the Mustang also earns enough merits in its performance to make it the rational choice. It offers better fuel economy (on paper), a more engaging gearbox, rear-wheel-drive, and the new V-6 is seriously fast, even if it's not seductive in character. Not only does the 2011 Ford Mustang make the Honda Accord coupe look pedestrian, it also moves the needle on what we expect from an affordable sports car, both in terms of performance and interior comfort.