Before The Honda Prelude Returns, Here's A Classic Review Of The Fourth Gen

The Honda Prelude Concept has reignited interest in the historic nameplate, even if the automaker hasn’t officially announced what regions to offer a production version of the show car. Motorweek capitalizes on the spike in enthusiasm for this sports coupe by looking back to the TV show’s review of the fourth-gen model from March 13, 1992. Let’s see how the Prelude stacks up against its sports coupe competition of the time.

Host John Davis starts by complaining that many new cars look alike, and over 30 years later, we don’t think much as changed with regards to new vehicles (as far as our comments section is concerned, anyway).

He doesn’t lump the fourth-gen Prelude into this category of cookie-cutter machines. The model receives praise for the wedge-shaped crease on the hood leading to the nose’s center. The rear earns a comparison to a Jaguar XJS.

MotorWeek tests the up-level Prelude Si with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder with dual overhead cams, rated at 160 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. This one has a four-speed automatic transmission rather than the standard five-speed manual gearbox.

To put that figure into perspective against competitors at the time, a 1992 Toyota Celica GT-S made 135 hp and 145 lb-ft from a 2.2-liter four-cylinder. A 1993 Mazda MX-6 with a 2.5-liter V6 produced 164 hp and 160 lb-ft.

On MotorWeek‘s track test, the Prelude reaches 60 miles per hour in 7.8 seconds and covers the quarter-mile in 16.3 seconds. Not wildly impressive by modern standards, but right up there with the rest of the segment for the time.

Gallery: Honda Prelude Concept

The current Civic Si is the closest equivalent to the Prelude today in the Honda lineup. The automaker doesn’t officially list 0-60-mph times. However, Edmunds finds it reaches that speed in 7.2 seconds, and Motor Trend puts the figure at 7.4 seconds. 

This Prelude also has the optional rear-wheel steering system, making it more agile in the corners. It adds $2,320 to the price, but MotorWeek praises this tech for helping the coupe get through the slalom better than most front-drive performance vehicles.

This review isn’t so keen on the Prelude’s full-width instrument panel. It puts the speedometer and tachometer in front of the driver. However, the digital fuel gauge and coolant temp are in the middle, and the clock is basically in front of the passenger. The setup is reminiscent of the dashboard-spanning screens we see on premium vehicles today but using the tech available 30 years ago.

At the time, this Prelude went for $22,320. Today, that’s the equivalent of $49,298 once you factor in inflation. For comparison, we tested a 2024 Acura Type S for $52,595 in June 2023. Another similar model is the 315-hp Honda Civic Type R, priced at $44,890 after the $1,095 destination fee and before any options.

Unfortunately, we don’t know whether Honda intends to revive the Prelude nameplate quite yet. The concept uses a hybrid powertrain that would likely slot the new model somewhere between the Civic Si and Type R in terms of power. Until that happens, we have decades of Preludes to remember.

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