Honda Accord Coupe Vs. Ford Mustang GT Vs. Audi A5

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Ask AutoGuide is our community outreach program. Drivers in need of car-buying assistance call on us and we respond with a helping hand, a kind word or a stern warning; if they’re lost we can provide a map and some direction. Usually we recommend sensible sedans, handy hatchbacks or miserly mini-models, but this week we get to have a little fun.

All work and no play makes Chris a very dull boy. He’s an enthusiast that’s looking for a little fun. Sure, he could take the bus downtown and visit any gentlemen’s club of his choosing, but a new automobile is probably cheaper than partially financing the college education of a dancer named Avalon. Plus, who wants to walk around with a fat wad of George Washingtons in their pocket? Paying with a cashier’s check is much easier.

When it comes to shopping, Chris has a generous budget of up to 40 grand, which gives him plenty of options. But what exactly does he want? Well, he’s not too sure.

Residing on America’s East Coast, decent all-weather traction is somewhat important to him but he’s still wide open to rear-wheel drive (winter tires FTW). Additionally, a backup camera and navigation system would be nice but rims that span at least 18 inches are a must. Finally, the transmission is a deal-breaker as well; he cannot live without a manual gearbox and we salute him for that. If we had 21 guns they’d all be pointed to the sky and fired simultaneously.

Giving this week’s installment of Ask AutoGuide a sense of multiculturalism, Chris is totally impartial when it comes to brand and it seems he isn’t too concerned about body style, either. Corresponding via e-mail he brought up several Lexus IS models as possible options but unfortunately none of them can be had with a manual, so scratch that. In any event, here are a few recommendations.

We’ve taken a three-prong approach with this week’s Ask AutoGuide. We’re going to highlight a trio of powertrain layouts, and of course each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Kicking things off, let’s start with what’s likely the most depressing, sorry, make that sensible of them all.

For better or worse the Honda Accord Coupe is front-wheel drive. This means the car should provide decent traction and predictability when the weather turns foul. It should also return respectable fuel economy and offer space-efficient packaging. Remember, this is a two-door version of a family sedan so it’s got a lot of levelheaded virtues baked right in.

But the Accord Coupe is targeted at drivers, or at least people that don’t hate spending time behind the wheel. It’s got a reputation for quality that’s second to none, somewhat sleek styling and an alluring powertrain. Have we sold you on this car yet or are we damning it with faint praise?

Under the Accord’s hood sits a transversely mounted 3.5-liter V6. It delivers a muscular 278 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. A significantly less well endowed four-cylinder engine is also available, but who wants that, especially when the six is so smooth and wails like Leadbelly singing the blues?

Naturally the engine can be matched to a proper transmission, a six-speed manual. In typical Honda fashion this unit feels ultra smooth through the gears and more precise than an integrated circuit chip.

Aside from an efficient basic design cylinder deactivation helps improve fuel economy when all-out power is not required. The car also features active noise cancellation to block any unwanted ruckus. According to the U.S. EPA this car should be able to travel 18 miles on a gallon of gasoline in the city and 28 on the highway. Combined it should return 22 mpg.

Signed, sealed and delivered, a top-of-the-line Accord Coupe EX-L V6 can be driven home for $33,190, including $790 in shipping and handling fees. At that price you get plenty of fancy features, things like dual-zone climate control, navigation, a rear-view camera, leather seats and power all around. Curiously it’s only available in three colors. Drivers can choose between red, black and gray, but customers that opt for an automatic transmission have many more options. Why does the transmission matter? Color us confused.

The Accord may be handicapped by front-wheel drive and unobtrusive styling but it really is quite a bit of fun. The engine screams, the gearbox is slicker than a baby seal and it ought to be as reliable as a Honda, which is convenient because that’s just what it is…

The Accord is a front-driver; Ford’s Mustang is the polar opposite. Power is routed to this legendary pony car’s aft end, something that’s critical for automotive hooliganism, just as it’s been for the past five decades. Simply put, you can’t properly perpetrate lurid tail-slides or smoky burnouts when the powered wheels are also the ones that also responsible for steering.

But aside from these immature antics why are we recommending such a crude and arguably outdated vehicle? The Mustang’s live axle is basically Roman-chariot technology and the car is set to be replaced by a brand-new model later in the year, but still it’s got a lot of plusses (and the back end really isn’t that bad).

Arguably this car’s biggest advantage is the engine. Dearborn’s 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8 is an absolutely marvelous piece of work. It’s a silky-smooth screamer; if you want performance this powerplant delivers. It will powerfully plant a smile on your face each and every time you fire it up.

On premium gasoline it delivers a 420 hp kick along with 390 lb-ft of twist. Fill the tank with 87-octane regular and the output is reduced ever so slightly, but it really doesn’t matter because no matter how you fuel it this car is seriously, SERIOUSLY fast. Throw in close-ratio six-speed manual transmission and things only get sweeter.

As for fuel economy expect this car to return 15 mpg on the urban cycle and 26 on the highway. Combined it stickers at 19 mpg, which is not that much worse than the Accord.

Beyond the Mustang GT Premium’s basic goodness the ample budget Chris has to play with allows him to indulge in a few highly desirable options. Given this leeway we loaded him up with all kinds of goodies (after all, it’s not our money). First we included the electronics package for an additional $2,340. This gets him a navigation system, dual-zone climate control and HD radio, among other things. Then we opted for the $2,495 GT Track Pack. This options group nets Chris a Torsen limited-slip differential and a heavy-duty radiator, plus Brembo brakes, unique ECU tuning and special 19-inch wheels. Check, check and checkmate.

But that’s nearly five-grand in options, what’s this thing going to cost? Well fear not, because value is spelled F-O-R-D. You can drive off the lot in this car for $40,970, including $825 in destination charges, a figure that does not include any potential rebates, and we suspect there will be many.

With the all-new 2015 Mustang just a few months away it’s likely the company is going to try and clear out old stock, so in the near future you might be able to get a 2014 GT for a really, really good price.

So far we’ve covered front- and rear-wheel drive; what’s left? Tank treads? Rocket boosters? Not quite; let’s talk quattro.

Audi and its traction-maxim are practically synonymous. The German brand’s all-wheel-drive technology is one of the most advanced systems on the market today; it’s the result of more than three decades of development and expertise.

The four-ring model we’re recommending for Chris is the brand’s sleek and beautiful A5. Even after years on the market this car is still gorgeous, with almost feminine curves to its body and an upscale overall appearance.

In Premium guise, the most affordable trim, it just complies with this week’s budget by squeaking in at $39,895, including $895 in delivery fees. For that outlay you get a genuinely first-class interior that shames the other two cars in this comparison, plus quattro all-wheel drive and a lot more.

Inside the driver and passenger are treated to three-zone climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, leather seating surfaces and aluminum trimmings all around. Outside the car rolls 18-inch wheels and you have TWO different designs to choose from at no extra charge; heated windshield-washer nozzles are also free.

Like the Accord you get three color options. Audi lets you choose between black, white and red for no extra charge. If you want something else plan on shelling out an additional $500.

Regrettably a navigation system is not offered – or even available – in the A5 Premium; you have to step up to a higher trim level to get it (it’s an extra $3,050 in the Premium Plus model). Audi, like other German automakers, loves nickel and diming customers; in the A5 even heated seats cost extra. Fortunately we’re pretty sure Chris can just spend a little spare change on a suction mount and use his iPhone for directions.

As for whirly bits, the A5 is powered by a smooth running 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. With direct fuel injection and turbocharging it delivers an unimpressive sounding 220 hp along with a more robust 258 lb-ft of torque. Fortunately performance really doesn’t suffer even with the relatively low horsepower rating. Paired with an easy-shifting six-speed manual transmission the zero to 60 dash takes a claimed 6.3 seconds; an eight-gear autobox is also offered.

The A5 has a serious power paucity vis-a-vis the other two cars in this feature, but the tradeoff may just make that acceptable. It’s expected to return 22 mpg in city driving and up to 32 on the highway. Its combined EPA score is a pretty impressive 26 mpg, numbers that blow the Honda and Ford away.

So, aside from front-, rear- and all-wheel drive we also highlighted one car that’s affordable, another that’s fast and a third that’s luxurious. At the end of the day each one has its own strengths, weaknesses and unique appeal. The Audi A5 is certainly slower than the Mustang and probably Accord as well, but it’s a lot more fuel efficient than either. With options like these it looks like Chris has a tough decision to make.

If you need a little assistance shopping for your next vehicle feel free to do the same. Send a short message to Let us know the basics of what you’re looking for. How many seats do you need? What size of vehicle do you want? How much are you willing to spend? With some of those fundamentals out of the way we’ll get busy to come up with two or three must-see vehicles that you’ll have to put on your test-drive list.

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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2 of 4 comments
  • Maximania Maximania on Mar 30, 2014

    This is easy. You choose none of the above, and go with a 2015 Mustang GT if you have the money. It's proper rear-drive, more power than ever for the V8, it's got IRS, quality and aesthetics have dramatically increased because the car is a true world-wide statement now, and none of those make a statement quite like driving a Mustang GT. P.S. this is coming from a guy who drives a V6 Accord coupe. Don't settle for anything less than you want, otherwise you'll look back and regret it

  • Isend2C Isend2C on Mar 31, 2014

    You'd have a hard time finding that Audi on the dealership lot. a VW GTI would have the same features as the A5 for 75% of the price. I'd put the Hyundai Genesis Coupe against the Accord as it's priced similarly and has the advantage of RWD and a power output between both the Accord and Mustang. Out of those I'd pick the Accord though.