click above image to view 32 high-resolution live and official shots in our gallery

While Honda's corporate message continually stresses safety and fuel economy, today's introduction of the Accord Coupe Concept emphasized style, attitude and sizzle. Honda product boss John Mendel didn't need a speech writer to emphasize the Accord's significance to the company.

"The Accord is the single most important product for Honda," Mendel said, noting that almost 10 million Accords have been sold in the U.S., and it was the first Japanese nameplate to be built domestically. "It's the cornerstone of the Honda lineup. For Honda, the Accord represents the flagship and our single best selling model."

Check out more info on the Accord Coupe Concept, including a full press release, after the jump. Also check out our full, high-resolution gallery containing 32 pics both from the reveal and Honda itself.



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Mendel said the Coupe Concept demonstrates the styling direction for the eighth-generation Accord that goes on the sale this fall. The Accord sedan is likely to be the first version to actually hit the dealerships, but Honda wanted to generate early buzz with a sportier coupe. The styling is a departure from previous models with more defined rake that is accented by a fastback roofline. The shoulders are more muscular and sides are deeply scalloped. The rear fascia is highlighted with quad exhaust tips.

The Coupe is obviously targeted to younger buyers (almost 40% of current Accord coupe buyers are under 30), and Honda is forecasting growth in the coupe segment.

Few details were given at the press conference but Mendel said the Accord will feature a more powerful V6 engines that produces fewer emissions and offers better fuel efficiency. The engine will boast Honda's next generation Variable Cylinder Management (VCM). The new Accord will also showcase an improved ACE body structure.

With Accord representing so much of Honda's identity, there was a curious reaction in the press room as "BMW 3 series" seemed to be mentioned often. The Accord Concept is certainly more aggressive looking and edgier than its nearest competitor, the Toyota Camry, which was redesigned for this model year, though its coupe counterpart, the Camry Solara, wasn't. But some styling cues, particularly the C-pillar, seemed to remind some observers of BMW's approach.

More news of the Accord, especially a look at the sedan and more information on vehicle specifics, is expected at an upcoming show.

PRESS RELEASE:

Honda Accord Coupe Concept Poised to Reset Segment Benchmark

The Honda Accord Coupe Concept reveals a totally new look for the next-generation Accord, along with key technologies for safety, fuel efficiency and performance, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The Accord is Honda's best-selling model in North America and its debut at NAIAS marks the first time that an Accord concept vehicle has ever been shown at a major auto show.

The styling of the Accord Coupe Concept conveys a powerful stance through its long hood, deeply sculpted lower body and fastback roofline. A six-sided grille and projector headlamps that recess deep into the front fenders contribute to an unmistakable and aggressive front fascia. Quad exhaust outlets integrated into the rear diffuser further convey performance and style beyond any Accord to date.

"The Accord Coupe Concept demonstrates the styling direction for the upcoming, eighth-generation Accord," said John Mendel, senior vice president of American Honda. "As the industry's target for midsize segment excellence, the all-new Accord will set a new benchmark for safety, efficiency, performance, refinement and style."

A more powerful and lower-emissions V6 engine will provide higher fuel efficiency with the incorporation of Honda's next-generation Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology. Honda leads the industry with the highest Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rating for any full line manufacturer* of 29.2 miles per gallon - well above the industry average of 25.3 miles per gallon.

As part of Honda's "Safety for Everyone" initiative, all next-generation Accord models will include the company's Advanced Compatibility Engineering(TM) (ACE(TM)) Body Structure. Honda's ACE Body Structure incorporates a front-end frame structure that helps absorb and disperse crash energy over a large area in a frontal impact. ACE also makes the vehicle more crash compatible in frontal impacts with vehicles of differing ride heights.

The current generations of the Odyssey (2005), Civic (2006) and CR-V (2007) all have the ACE Body Structure. Together, the ACE-equipped vehicles represent more than 50 percent of all 2007 Honda vehicles sold on a sales-weighted basis. With the addition of the next-generation Accord to the lineup of vehicles with ACE, more than 75 percent will be equipped with the technology on a sales-weighted basis after it goes on sale.

Honda Accord History

The Honda Accord, currently in its seventh generation in 30 years, remains Honda's best-selling vehicle worldwide and has consistently been one of the top five best-selling automobiles in the U.S. Known for its ride and handling, comfort and convenience features, safety, quality and refinement, the Accord delivers world-class style with sophistication and performance. The Accord was launched in 1976 with subsequent major re-designs debuting in 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2003. More than 9.5 million Accords have been sold in the U.S. since 1976.

Car and Driver magazine named the 2007 Honda Accord as one of the winners of its prestigious and highly competitive annual "10Best Cars" award. The Accord has achieved "10Best" status 21 times in the 25 years that Car and Driver editors have been conducting the competition, more than any other vehicle in the award's history.