Sporting Intentions

Here’s the thing,

Honda released the current Accord nearly two years ago now, and to great fanfare. Their party piece for this new model was the Sport trim. With the combination of the new Earth Dreams 2.4, a classic bolt-action Honda 6-speed, and a slightly sportier suspension setup, it was just enough to satiate aging Honda fans, while not alienating casual buyers. That last point is due to the fact that it is also available with Honda’s new CVT setup.

AccordSportIf you opted to bypass the rubberband Rube Goldberg Device, the car became a bit of a grown-up’s Si. However, the car left a lot of hardcore enthusiasts unimpressed. That’s mostly because Honda didn’t take the extra steps to differentiate it from the standard Accords that surround it in the lineup. The Sport’s seats are LX seats with “sports cloth” and the slightly stiffer suspension comes standard on everything from the EX on up. For lack of a better description, it was the sportiest assembly of the parts in their bin. It seemed like a good enough plan, but today I drove something that I think could easily blow it out of the water.

It was the Passat Sport, and it was phenomenal. Starting its run this year, the Passat Sport represents the best version possible of the Passat SE. It has completely one-off wheels with tires usually saved for sportier models, and a carbon fiber lined interior. It also gets the seats from the much more expensive Volkswagen CC, with a possible two-tone scheme. And being powered by the new Turbocharged, Direct Injected 1.8, the car feels sprightly and moves down the road faster than its low 7s 0-60 suggests. The Passat (in all forms) already handles better than the current Accord as wll, so the base platform already bodes better for a Sport version.

PassatSportAnd herein lies the quandry. Neither company will commit to making a dedicated sports model. Both have V6 versions, however those are cushy mid-market models with larger engines, or pseudo-luxury trims attempting to catch random cheapskates unwilling to spend actual luxury money. However, the Volkswagen wins due to the fact that the Passat is committed to the idea of giving the customer more, including features and items not available on normal models, as where the Accord feels like it was built by pulling out anything the customer wouldn’t miss. In essence, it’s built to a purpose, not to a price point.

The aftermarket already has tuning available for the Passat as well. For people like me that buy a car not only for what it is, but also what it can be, that can make all the difference in the world. It also shows how others feel about each of these offerings “Sport” credentials.

And that, that’s the thing.

– Shawn

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