Home » The Honda Prelude Is Exactly What The World Needs Right Now

The Honda Prelude Is Exactly What The World Needs Right Now

Honda Prelude Concept Ev
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They did it. Just when I wasn’t sure they could come back they came back. Honda is the Arizona Diamondbacks of automakers. The Prelude is low-key one of the best Japanese cars sold in America over the last half-century, but changing tastes doomed it either to be a historical footnote or, worse, reborn as a crossover. Honda surprised everyone with a fairly production-looking Prelude that wasn’t an SUV, swoopy sedan, or weird hydrogen race car. It’s a coupe! In this economy!?! Incredible.

Electric cars have to be rational. They, ideally, should be profitable. This means that almost every electric car is either an aerodynamic fastback sedan/hatch or a crossover/SUV. There is a dearth of electric two-doors. In fact, there isn’t a single two-door (or three-door for that matter) mainstream electric car sold in the United States. Really, only China, with its Wulings, has mass-market electric two-doors, and those are primarily tiny hatchbacks.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

[Update: Apparently this thing is actually a hybrid!]

This is none of those things. This is an honest-to-goodness coupe in the mold of every previous generation Honda Prelude. Remarkable. Just remarkable.

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Photo: Honda

I’m realizing now that the Honda Prelude disappeared from the United States in 2001 so anyone under, say, 26, has no real idea what this is if they haven’t seen one before or why it’s important.

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A Brief History Of The Honda Prelude

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Photo: Honda

The original Honda Prelude has a certain cuteness to it, but other than establishing the name it isn’t a specifically memorable car and doesn’t explain the eventual greatness of the car. This was a response to Toyota’s RWD Celica without any of the actual performance of a Celica. The first generation Prelude is basically a shorter Honda Accord.

1985 Honda Prelude Si Coupe
1985 Honda Prelude Si Coupe.

It was the second generation that established the mold: crisp, subtly athletic styling mixed with a little more edge than a Honda Accord coupe and a little more luxury than a two-door Civic. This is also where we get the introduction of the Si, with a hot rod (for the time) 2.0-liter inline fourbanger putting out a whopping 110 hp.

1988prelude

MotorTrend has a great little history of the car for further reading, and I think this section is particularly important:

The third-generation Prelude is where things really pick up technologically. It debuted for the 1988 model year with then-revolutionary four-wheel-steering, beating other Japanese manufacturers’ nascent 4WS systems to the punch. Whereas the forthcoming 4WS systems from Mitsubishi and Mazda functioned with solenoids and programming to change the angle of the rear wheels, the Prelude’s rear-steer was purely mechanical, lending a bit more reliability to the complex system and bringing cost down.

These are great little cars and I often see one in slightly rusty condition when I go jogging through my neighborhood. Do I hope it’ll have a FOR SALE sign on it one day? A little, yeah.

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96prelude Vtec 1200x783
Photo: Honda

The fourth-generation Preludes are my absolute favorites, offering both a VTEC H221 2.2-liter four-cylinder with 187 horsepower and optional rear-wheel steer. It also looks the business, with its scowling headlights offset by small vents. It also has one of the best C-pillars of the era.

If you were a rich teen girl in the 1990s who was a little bit of an asshole two things were true: 1. I was probably attracted to you and I wouldn’t admit it. 2. You probably drove this car.

1999 Honda Prelude Sh
1999 Honda Prelude SH.

There are people who love the final (for the moment) generation Prelude. It looks great, undoubtedly, though I’ve always been disappointed that the rear-wheel steering was replaced with a sort of early torque-vectoring system called ATTS on the SH models. You could still get a manual transmission and the H22A’s power was kicked up to 195 horses.

The Sixth Generation (Hopefully) Prelude

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Photo: Honda

So what’s this thing? It looks the part, with its mostly grille-less nose, blacked-out b-pillar, and lack of too-tough cladding or anything stupid like that. Is this thing for real? Let’s have Honda’s CEO Toshihiro Mibe explain it:

Honda has always been committed to creating sporty vehicles. And the word “prelude” means an “introductory or preceding performance.” This model will become the prelude for our future models which will inherit the “joy of driving” into the full-fledged electrified future and embody Honda’s unalterable sports mindset. The Prelude Concept is a specialty sports model that will offer exhilarating experience that makes you want to keep going forever and extraordinary excitement you never felt before.

In order to offer the “joy of driving” only Honda can realize, we are diligently progressing with development, so please keep your expectations high for this model.

Yeah, that means they’re either building it or they hate us. I don’t believe they hate us.

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Photo: Honda

I am legit excited about this, if you can’t tell.

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S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
8 months ago

If they actually make this and it’s reasonably affordable, then I think this could be the first EV that I could actually see myself owning. Up until now, I still haven’t been able to force myself to actually be excited over any current EV offering when they’re nearly all just small SUVs or luxury sedans that I couldn’t even dream of being able to actually afford.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
8 months ago
Reply to  S13 Sedan

I hate to break it to you amigo but unless you consider $50,000-60,000 to be reasonably affordable this will not be.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
8 months ago

I suppose that’s better than it could be but yeah, that’s still well out of reach for me and likely most everyone else who would be their target audience

Jeff Hager
Jeff Hager
8 months ago

I’ll be waiting at the Honda dealership when an EV coupe (a 2 door not a squashed SUV) shows up. Or if the EV MR2 beats Honda to the punch, I’ll be at the Toyota dealership.

Tim Cougar
Tim Cougar
8 months ago

I’ve been waiting for an attainable, semi-sporty electric coupe. The Dodge Charger concept had me excited, but this has me ecstatic. Honda, build it!

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
8 months ago

The second/third generation, imho, is where those hit the sweet spot. The fourth and fifth: they just got bloated looking and lost all their appeal to me.

This new one might grow on me but, right now, it doesn’t hit the mark for me with the shape of that nose.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
8 months ago

Thank you for showing a freaking pic of the back! I looked through like 6 articles this morning and they all had the same 2-3 pics that only showed the front and profile. Then I finally found one of the rear, and it’s great! I do not like the faux grille thing on the front, but I love the rest. The blue lines down in the lower grille and on the rear diffuser are interesting. It’s a very simple, clean design like the preludes of yonder year, now I just have to hope it’s affordable and has a RWD option! Though I am holding my breath for neither of those things.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
8 months ago

Not a huge fan of the weird beak thing it has going on but overall the styling is way nicer than most modern stuff, at least in my opinion. Good stuff!

Between this and that new Mazda concept (which looks amazing) I have hope that maybe there’s a positive swing in design coming!

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
8 months ago

I just hope they keep the “Prelude” name. Nice and simple. I’m so tired of cars coming with your choice of alphabet soup or word salad.

Derek Miller
Derek Miller
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

This headline gave me heartburn today: “Lexus reveals LF-ZC, LF-ZL concept EVs in Japan”

davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
8 months ago

YESYESYES

Honda – “Joy of Driving”
Toyota – “Forever Sport”
Mazda – “Love of Cars”

I like where this is headed!

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
8 months ago

Alfa – “Forever in the Shop”

10001010
10001010
8 months ago

For me it’s the 3rd and 5th generations styling-wise though I was always a touch disappointed performance-wise.

R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
8 months ago

Is the Mini SE not a 2/3 door mainstream EV for sale in America?

SaabaruDude
SaabaruDude
8 months ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

Came here to ask this. Perhaps our definition of “mainstream” is too broad?

MrLM002
MrLM002
8 months ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

I wish they would have sold the Mini SE convertible in the US, I looked into buying one, importing it, and having it federalized, but federalization is apparently not feasible for one automobile and I didn’t want to be limited mileage wise under show and display laws.

R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
8 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Sawzall?!

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
8 months ago

At first glance I thought it was a new Toyota Crown model. It looks…fine, I guess? I wish I could care more about this but I can’t imagine buying one of these over one of the ICE alternatives if it makes it to production, as you just know this will be $50,000+ even before Honda dealerships get a hold of it and slap on those 15k ADMs.

If I’m buying a coupe I’m already making a sacrifice/compromise when it comes to practicality and the last thing I’d want to do is make an additional compromise by going BEV on top of that. I could be talked into an EV sedan, particularly with some of the bonkers leases out there right now.

But a coupe? Meh. This would be competing with the M240i/M2, V8 S650 Mustangs, and the new Challenger/Charger which we just found out will be available with the Hurricane straight 6 pushing 400+ horsepower. I’m just not enough of a Honda fanboy to choose this over any of those…and if you specifically want an EV the new Doges will offer one of those as well.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
8 months ago

On the heels of the Crown Estate stories, I thought Toyota first too. And the greenhouse feels more like an Integra concept to me than Prelude too.

I can’t imagine they’d be pricing it at the level of those vehicles and they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t make sense closer to 86/BR-Z money. But then I also wonder then which wheels it would drive – front, rear, all? Will anyone care about a FWD EV coupe? It wouldn’t have 4-wheel steering for a nod to 4WS; but 4W-E or something?

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
8 months ago

Oh there’s no way in hell this is going to be priced in the high 20s/low 30s. The only new EV you can get around that price currently is the Leaf and Honda is extremely late to the EV game. Their technology is way behind the 8 ball.

If we’re lucky this will start in the 40s, but I imagine it’s going to wind up where seemingly every reasonably equipped first gen EV does around 60. Suggesting this will be a Toyobaru rival is wishful thinking, and even if it was priced around there it will likely outweigh those cars by at least 1000 pounds.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
8 months ago

Not under $30k no, but closer to Toyobaru prices than the $60k range. I’m thinking about it from the Prelude nameplate, which while not cheap didn’t play that high in price. 20 years ago a ’93 ranged from $17-23k, adjusted for inflation that’s $36-49k.

It’s all speculation anyway, rumors of different nameplate revivals have been popping up for years with Honda especially. If it’s looking like $60k they’re better off with some kind of S2000 connection.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
8 months ago

> If I’m buying a coupe I’m already making a sacrifice/compromise when it comes to practicality

Not necessarily. It’s like saying you’re sacrificing practicality when you buy an Escalade instead of a school bus.

I have an old roadster and it doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything because I don’t need e.g. a back seat for passengers or children.

DadBod
DadBod
8 months ago

I drove a 2nd gen in high school, this is a perfect mid life crisis buy for me

Chronometric
Chronometric
8 months ago

I love it but it will not happen. Coupes today are niche vehicles. EVs are niche vehicles for mainline manufacturers. An EV Coupe is niche squared and will not have a viable market size.

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
8 months ago

My only note is that it looks more like a Toyota with that front end and the overall coupe style further reads like just another GT86 variant. That said, this could be a viable replacement for a CRZ.

Peter Andruskiewicz
Peter Andruskiewicz
8 months ago

Definitely, the headlight shape with the grill seems to be completely aping the new Prius and Crown, but in a less elegant way.

Steve P
Steve P
8 months ago

The nose reminds me of a 2010 Insight sedan in a bad way.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
8 months ago

I generally do not give a crap about electric cars,but this is something i would actually buy. I am a bit worried that the weight of the batteries would go on accord with the driving experience though.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
8 months ago

I like it, but I hope they don’t CRZ the thing and let down both the normal consumers and enthusiasts with something that looks far different than what it is.

MrLM002
MrLM002
8 months ago

Matt: ‘We need more cars with electric door handles, that way when you have a dead 12v battery you can’t get anything out of your car without getting a jump.’

My policy is simple: If I need electricity lock and unlock a car door then I’ll never own that car, and I’ll rightly hate on that car.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
8 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Agreed. My stupid Chevy Cruze only opens the trunk via remote, there is no keyhole, and there is no button on the inside, and I freaking hate it!

MrLM002
MrLM002
8 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

Ik your pain. Was driving a friend’s LR3, battery died sitting in the garage with my jacket in the “trunk” and his has a metal grate separating the cargo compartment and the passenger compartment, I damn near dislocated my shoulder attempting to grab my jacket, I barely snagged it but I definitely felt it afterwards.

I don’t trust electric only trunks and frunks for the same reason I don’t trust electric only doors, and if I don’t trust them I won’t use them. If I won’t use them then I’d be better off without them resulting in a cheaper, lighter, simpler version of that car. I of course would prefer to have mechanical latches for everything but if I had to go without a mechanical latch for a trunk and or frunk I’d rather not have it in the first place.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
8 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

What’s worse to me, is that in the higher trim levels of the Cruze, they added a damn trunk release button. Who the crap thought the poors don’t deserve access to the trunk?! I hate this car with so much passion and cannot wait to dump it. Should be gone be the end of the year with any luck.

DadBod
DadBod
8 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

Did they put the button in the glove compartment? Those were the days.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
8 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

Haha had a few of those. Nice yellow button in the glove box. No, it is supposed to be on the center stack, so I just have a large space with nothing there because I didn’t get a fancy enough Cruze, or rather the original owner didn’t check that box.

Outofstep
Outofstep
8 months ago

Yeah, that means they’re either building it or they hate us. I don’t believe they hate us

I believe they hate us because I want a Honda e and they won’t give it to us. More importantly though I want a fricking PHEV or EV Element! Make it a little more aerodynamic but keep its boxy goodness and sell me one then I’ll say that they don’t hate us.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
8 months ago

I’m excited for a new Prelude, and a mainstream automaker committing to an EV targeted at the enthusiast market.
But.
Posting pictures of the OG Preludes right above the new one soured me on the styling of the car. It’s already too fat around the middle, and it is still a concept car! That won’t get better as it moves towards production state. Also, this car is yet another example of the execrable flat faux-wheel well bodylines (surely vestiges of the original sketches depicting 47″ tires with 0.01″ wheel travel…) interrupting the flow of the rest of the car. They cut into the flow of what should be a lovely character line flowing from the front bumper up into the rear quarter window.
Compare that to the last-gen Prelude and it’s lovely crisp wheel arches, uninterrupted character line flowing from the front wheel well to the taillights, and characteristic Prelude slim side profile.
Can we please relegate these miserable design trends to the garbage heap of history and get back to making well-styled cars again?

Iain Tunmore
Iain Tunmore
8 months ago

Isn’t this VERY close to just being a 2 door Prius?

Jdesigner
Jdesigner
8 months ago
Reply to  Iain Tunmore

I came here to point this out as well.

Ivan256
Ivan256
8 months ago
Reply to  Iain Tunmore

Hopefully it’s fast and handles well.

That’s what is missing from a Prius. And it would be a pretty major deviation.

D-dub
D-dub
8 months ago
Reply to  Iain Tunmore

Except the Prius is better looking. Holy hell, did I really just write that?

Donfuy
Donfuy
8 months ago
Reply to  Iain Tunmore

I genuinely thought I was looking at a Toyota coupe until I came to the comment section. Was even gonna comment that Toyota’s new design language is pretty cool!

Steve P
Steve P
8 months ago

I think it’s a little too Prius/Eclipse love child. It had better offer something unique over the Toyobaru.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
8 months ago

‘Ludes are making a comeback!

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
8 months ago

Hopefully not these ‘Ludes

Steve P
Steve P
8 months ago

Don’t tell this guy

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
8 months ago

People on ‘Ludes should not drive. – Jeff Spicoli

V10omous
V10omous
8 months ago

If you were a rich teen girl in the 1990s who was a little bit of an asshole two things were true: 1. I was probably attracted to you and I wouldn’t admit it. 2. You probably drove this car.

Did they not have V6/auto Mustang convertibles where you grew up?

Farty McSprinkles
Farty McSprinkles
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I was in high school in the early nineties. They drove VW Cabriolets in our area. We actually used to call the Cabriolets “Bitch Baskets” due to this correlation.

V10omous
V10omous
8 months ago

Oh that’s a good one too.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago

Rabbit convertibles were always like that.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I guffawed at this because I too had this thought. Well done!

Ben
Ben
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Heh, I totally knew a girl with rich parents who drove a convertible Mustang in high school. I don’t think she was an asshole though. At least in my interactions with her she seemed a little shy.

Which, looking back, leaves me with deep regrets about falling for the hot asshole girl instead of the rich shy girl. High schoolers have terrible taste in significant others. 🙂

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
8 months ago

I think it’s funny how they kinda ended up designing a Prius coupe. Even though it’s always been a FWD car, with EV, there aren’t the same packaging concerns and I sincerely hope they make it RWD. A Prelude S2000 if you fancy.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
8 months ago

What I wouldn’t do for an S2000 coupe. Or a RWD Prelude.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
8 months ago

or 4wd would also would be acceptable.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
8 months ago

This feels like the beginning of something big, like it’s leading up to something spectacular.

JerryLH3
JerryLH3
8 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

Yeah, like a pre.. uh pre… hmmmm, oh I got it! A Preamble!

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