The word “rocket ship” is rarely proffered on behalf of the Honda Accord, a fine car, to be sure, but known for reliability and practicality rather than sweaty-palm titillation.

Yet, more than one Ward's judge used that supercharged term to describe the 3.5L SOHC V-6 that powers the Accord coupe to its second-consecutive 10 Best Engines award.

This 271-hp V-6 does so many things well. Its steady road manners might lull the driver into thinking this powerplant is sedate and timid.

But crack open the razor sharp throttle at any speed, and this engine, with Honda's typical understated excellence, springs to life like a tiger hiding in the brush, pouncing on a hapless antelope.

This engineering masterpiece remains amazingly composed, even at the 6,800-rpm redline, without a hint of torque-steer in the front-wheel-drive Accord.

Channeling this power is a magnificently smooth-shifting 6-speed manual that cycles through every gear as if in complete harmony with the vehicle. The 1-2 shift satisfies with an ease and confidence unmatched by any production 3-pedal V-6.

The only reason for a buyer to bypass the manual is because Honda's nifty 3-stage Variable Cylinder Management cylinder-deactivation system is limited.

Engine type: 3.5L SOHC 60° V-6

Displacement (cc): 3,471

Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum

Bore × stroke (mm): 89 × 93

Horsepower (SAE net): 271 @ 6,200 rpm

Torque: 251 lb.-ft. (340 Nm) @ 5,000 rpm

Specific output: 77 hp/L

Compression ratio: 10.0:1

Assembly site: Anna, Ohio

Application tested: Accord Coupe (6-speed manual)

EPA city/highway (mpg): 17/25