Accord Sport or Accord Hybrid: Which One Is Actually Cooler?

One of them is a ton of fun, the other is basically a Koenigsegg Regera. Basically.

Honda

Here, I'll give you the answer right now so you don't have to read the whole story, since this whole internet generation is about instant gratification: The Accord Sport with the manual gearbox is the car that you want.

Happy? Yes? Good.

For those of you that are still reading, we discoverd that the debate between these two cars is actually more nuanced than "three pedals win always" after spending a week with both. Thank you for sticking around.

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The Accord Sport and Accord Hybrid are both Accords (doy!). They both have the same basic appearance and the same basic interior with a few changes. But they couldn't be more different to drive, and neither one is different in a bad way.

As you'd expect, the Sport with the manual combines Honda's proclivity for great manual gearboxes with a peppy four cylinder engine and puts them in the Accord's surprisingly competent chassis. It's a rare car in this Camry-dominated class of aggressive, nearly painful, boredom. The Accord Sport is still an Accord, so it's reliable and comfortable. But it flies under the radar and is legitimately fun to drive, an excellent car. Again, if you hate hybrids, there's no need to read further and just get mad.

The Accord Hybrid
Honda

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That brings us to the Accord Hybrid. It doesn't have a manual gearbox, or really any gearbox. It doesn't have an engine with character. Its brakes aren't great and the steering is Novocain levels of numb. Why are we still talking about it then?

Because the drivetrain is intensely cool.

And that's because it's very similar in concept to the Koenigsegg Regera. In both of these cars, a traditional transmission doesn't exist. The engines mainly power the batteries, and at higher speeds, engage to power the front wheels directly. You can tell people your Honda has something in common with a 250 mph Swedish supercar.

But it can also be disconcerting. Under acceleration at lower speeds, the engine is not connected to the wheels, but it will rev higher than expected to get juice flowing to the batteries. This will not be met with the forward rush of acceleration you're expecting. I repeatedly thought something was wrong with the car, because what was happening on the road wasn't matching what I was hearing.

Most of the time, the Accord runs in electric mode. The engine is either off or being used to charge the batteries. If you're careful on the throttle and try and get as much regen out of the brakes as possible, it becomes a game to see how far you can go without the engine coming on. It's a great way to learn how to be smooth with your inputs, since that's the way you'll conserve the most energy and keep that engine off. Inadvertently, the Accord Hybrid is teaching you techniques that you can transfer to the race track.

No, it doesn't teach you how to heel/toe shift. I already told you the Accord Sport manual wins, why are you still reading?

When it comes to a drivetrain concept, it's no contest. The Accord Hybrid is far cooler than the Accord Sport. The Accord Sport is only novel because it's basically the last of its breed, there aren't other sedans in this class with a manual (save the Mazda6). But it's not a new concept. It doesn't push us toward the future.

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The Hybrid does. It's not just a regular car with some electric assist, it's a rethink of how hybrids like this can work. That makes it more interesting–and fun–to drive than you might think.

The Accord Sport
Honda

But no, it's not more fun than the Accord Sport and its excellent gearbox. It also doesn't handle better and it's not quicker. Plus, if you're driving a mid-size family sedan with a manual, you earn instant respect from the gearhead crowd. Driving an Accord Hybrid? Well, no, not really.

The Accord Hybrid will mostly be bought by people who won't really appreciate the innovative drivetrain or the similarity to the Regera. It'll be bought by people who want good gas mileage and don't, for whatever reason, want a Camry. But make no mistake, this is a preview of the future. It's just a shame the most won't buy it for that experience.

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That means that the Accord Sport is the cooler version. You've known this since the first sentence. But don't think of the Hybrid as uncool. Think of it as something that is yet to be appreciated. And as an Uber. Think of it as that too.

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