The old Accord is going out in style.

The limited edition `89 Accord SEi coupe hardly lives up to the Japanese automaker`s ``We make it simple`` billing.

SEi means: Put everything you`ve got into the vehicle to serve as a showcase of better things to come.

The last time an SEi version of the Accord appeared was in 1985 just before the vehicle was changed for the 1986 model year. There were no SEi`s in 1986-1988.

For 1989 the SEi appears again, and again it signals a new version of the popular Accord is on its way this fall as a `90 model.

The `90 Accord will be longer, taller and wider than the `89. It will be built on a 105-inch wheelbase, about 2 inches longer than the `89.

Reportedly, the new Accord will be powered by a choice of two engines, a 1.8-liter, 130-horsepower 4-cylinder or a 2-liter, 20-valve, 195-h.p. 5- cylinder. There`s also talk of optional antilock brakes and four-wheel drive and . . .

We digress.

The front-wheel-drive, two-door SEi coupe is built on a 102.4-inch wheelbase and is 179.7 inches long.

It`s powered by a 2-liter, fuel-injected, 12-valve, 4-cylinder that develops 120 h.p. It`s teamed with 5-speed manual as standard or 4-speed automatic as optional. The model we drove had automatic.

It has adequate off-the-line power with almost no gasping from the transmission. When cruising, the quiet is almost eerie. The 2-liter provides ample power for the lightweight (2,700-pound) SEi, but the 22 m.p.g. city/28 m.p.g. highway rating is evidence that fuel conservation is the engine`s primary goal.

The typically reliable double wishbone suspension means the Accord coupe handles very nimbly, and there`s little road harshness transmitted back to the wheel or seat. Power steering is traditional Honda. It takes only fingertip effort to direct the car.

Among the noteworthy features are the comfortable and easy-to-use safety belts in the door that keep their shape without drooping regardless of the length of the trip. By being fastened to the door, the belt also is out of the way when rear seat passengers enter or exit. A bit more head room would have made the trip to the back seat easier.

Also, trunk space falls into the amazing category. The trunk may hold as much as some station wagons.

The automatic transmission features a shift lock that prevents you from moving the lever out of park without applying the brake. Another nice touch is the dual cupholder that pulls out from the dash, a feature obviously borrowed by Chrysler.

There are some annoyances, however, such as a seat back that`s a bit too stiff; a cluttered series of controls for air and heat settings; and poor operation of radio controls in the steering wheel hub (borrowed from Pontiac). Standard features in the SEi include leather-trimmed seats and door panel inserts, alloy wheels, power assisted 4-wheel disc brakes, tinte d glass, air conditioning, power steering, power windows, dual outlet exhaust, dual body colored power mirrors, and a Bose audio system with AM-FM stereo cassette.

Also standard are cruise control, fold-down rear seat backs, adjustable steering column, quartz digital clock, remote trunk release, rear window defroster and intermittent wipers.

The SEi is available in only two colors-gray metallic or blue-green metallic. When it comes to color choices, Honda does make it simple-and very conservative.

Base price is $16,975 with 5-speed, $17,635 with automatic. Those prices hint that the all-new `90s won`t be bargain basement replacements.