It used to be when you hear about or see an Accord Sport, you’d think “grandpa’s car” or “nothing really exciting.” And you’d probably be right. Granted there are a few exceptions, a few niche markets or certain demographics that enjoy it. But overall, the public’s general opinion of the Accord Sport has always been “meh.”
With a 2.4L four-cylinder engine that put out roughly 190hp (less than the Civic Si), 19” wheels and no other actual performance upgrades, the “Sport” badge was purely aesthetic. It didn’t handle differently, it didn’t have any more get-up to it than a regular Accord, it just let you “shift” the gears on its CVT for a little more fun. “Meh” indeed.
That was until the 2018 Accord Sport 2.0T released this month, with a plethora of new features that made it truly live up to its “Sport” badge. Along with the safety features, which come standard on every trim in the 2018 line-up, there are quite a few performance upgrades that come with the badge.
Under the hood, the Accord has a 252hp 2.0L four-cylinder turbocharged engine, mated to your choice of a 10-speed auto with paddles, or of course a 6-speed manual transmission, available only on the Sport trims. Equipped with 19” wheels and Macpherson Strut suspension in the front and a Multi-Link rear suspension, it’s not going to feel like a regular front-wheel-drive car.
So while many prefer the manual transmission, I had the chance to drive the 10-speed auto. Having driven dozens of different cars with different CVTs, DCTs, and DSGs, I’m used to paddles and slushboxes. However, the Accord’s 10-speed-auto is by far Honda’s best-feeling shift, as far as an alternative to a six-speed goes. Even compared to a V6 Coupe, the shifts felt snappier and more responsive, and the car just seemed to play along. There wasn’t any lag between gears whereas the V6’s CVT just didn’t want to leave the gear it was in. The 2018 felt light and compact, compared to the V6 that just felt heavy and lumbering around corners and getting back up to speed.
Everyone has a different opinion on this whole V6-vs-Turbo-4 engine debate; on one side you have “no replacement for displacement,” while on the other side you have the trend of the nearly every car manufacturer that has fuel economy in mind. While I cede that six-cylinder engines are quite formidable and terribly fun to drive, turbocharged 4-cylinders can make the case – if done right.
Honda hit the mark on producing a fuel-efficient family car that also makes a case for a respectable and fun daily driver and a good substitute for the V6 Accord. If you were looking for a racecar, try the Type-R.
By Christian Olsson, Honda Genius