My esteemed colleagues fervently believe that a manual transmission is always better than an automatic, citing 'driver involvement' as the evidence. I lack that conviction. If I am to be involved with a system controlled by three pedals and a shifter for an extended period -- i.e. throughout the ownership experience -- I expect it to work properly. While the Accord coupe's engine is well behaved and its shifter slices the H-pattern into manageable bits, this Honda has one fatal flaw: It doesn't pass the acid test I apply to all stick-shift test cars. This is something anyone can try at home. On a road free of traffic, select an upper gear -- say third -- at a modest speed -- say 25 mph. Keep a sharp eye on the tach needle while flooring the throttle. Then you quickly depress the clutch while abruptly lifting off the gas. Ideally, the tach needle rises only a few rpm. In the Accord's case, the jump ranged between 1000 and 1500 rpm. This procedure proves that the Accord's throttle hangs open for an instant after pedal pressure is removed. And that when you tell it to slow down -- because your radar detector beeped, you've encountered a patch of slick pavement, or you've underestimated the severity of a bend -- this coupe is lackadaisical about responding. For that reason, I suggest you skip the stick if an Accord coupe is on your shopping list.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor