The 2008 Honda Accord Coupe isn't immune to road rage. Driving back to Brooklyn on the LIE, scrunched forward on the steering wheel with a back seat full of reasonably-priced, but well-designed Ikea flat pack behind, I'm minding my own business in the middle lane, overtaking the law-abiders on the right but not the flouters on the left when suddenly the Accord's rear view mirror is filled with a chrome Isuzu badge. Not content with making the same progress as everyone else, the Forward Cab driver has settled on intimidating those before him in order to ensure he arrives back at whichever depressing industrial estate he's destined for at least 30 seconds earlier than he would have otherwise.
Sebastian, the semi-pro mixed martial artist rolling gently for and aft next to me, holding a stack of galvanized steel planters in his lap as his seat's latches fail to find purchase on the rails, looks on bemused as Mr. Angry charges past in a suddenly open gap on the right. Gesticulating wildly, the Isuzu driver swerves violently at us forcing me swing the Accord quickly into the fast lane; braking hard to avoid hitting the huge SUV that has no idea any of this is happening.
All of this hardly troubled the Accord. In V6 coupe form, the eighth and latest iteration of Honda's mid-size sedan is amazingly capable. Both fast and frugal, the 3.5-liter V6 is the largest and most powerful engine ever to find itself in a Honda passenger vehicle. In the coupe, Honda's ditched cylinder deactivation in favor of out-and-out performance. The 268 bhp is bolstered at the low end by both variable timing for its inlet valves and variable lengths for its magnesium intake manifold. Yes, this middle-of-the-road car now comes with magnesium engine parts.
Of course, Sebastian and I wouldn't have been out on Long Island shopping for fiber board storage solutions if we hadn't had a car we could have fit it all in. The Accord coupe's trunk is amazingly capacious for a two-door and while the rear seats don't fold down flat and the hole in the rear bulkhead is small and impractically shaped it does manage to swallow a surprisingly large amount of furniture named for obscure people, places and fjords in Sweden.
After the Isuzu moves on to torment the next car in a line of traffic stretching all the way back to Brooklyn, Sebastian observes that the driver, someone similar to us in age if not cleanliness, probably wouldn't have acted in such an aggressive manner if he'd encountered us on the sidewalk instead of the street. Bear with me; this car thing is all new to Sebastian, a recent émigré from Berlin, if not to you and I. More used to motorcycles and sports cars — vehicles intimately involved in their surroundings — it's something that I've always heard, but never understood. Until now.
Trapped in the midst of nothing but competence, a vast array of technology working to isolate me from its engineering to the greatest possible degree, I can suddenly understand where road rage originates. Driving down the highway, there's no grand visceral experience to separate me from the realities of moving through traffic. No engine that might not be fueling correctly or a potential stiff spot in my drive chain, there's nothing but the tedious journey ahead of me and those outside my cocoon making it longer. I feel empowered by the Accord's performance but separated from the experience of driving it. Suddenly, I'm not here for driving's sake, but for a destination that's increasingly taking longer to reach.
I could put my foot down — the V6 Accord is faster than anything this side of a Boxster — charging up behind those keeping me from home, safe in the knowledge that they see only its red paint and not my scrawny arms, safely removed from the experience. But something in the back of my mind restrains me. Maybe it's the leaf of the potted plant behind, gently tapping the back of my head, that reminds me that this isolation is only temporary and that soon I'll be back home, once again involved in the world outside.