I saw the New Honda Prelude Concept in Person, and It’s…Interesting
I’m going to front-load that I’m a long-time fan of the Honda Prelude, so this topic hits close to home for me. My mother had a 1992 Prelude S from the time I was born, so I grew up squeezing myself into the back seat and admiring these fun little sports coupes. In addition, I’ve owned a second-gen Prelude 2.0SI, a fourth-gen Prelude Si, and the pinnacle of US-delivered examples, the fifth-gen Type SH. All that said, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the new Prelude concept car.
The new Honda Prelude Concept uses some new yet familiar design cues
Let’s just get this out of the way early. It’s certainly not new for automakers to borrow design cues from others. This is especially true in the case of a groundbreaking design shift that gets all sorts of attention. For example, the new Toyota Prius.
Yes, this is me fully acknowledging that the new Prelude has a woefully similar front end to the enthusiast-loved new Toyota Prius. When I got a chance to view it in person at the LA Auto Show, I was hoping that seeing it in person would convince me that it’s not so similar, but it is. It’s almost unsettling how similar they look.
It goes deeper than that, though. Moving to the side of the new Prelude reveals a smooth, fastback-esque roofline that isn’t entirely dissimilar to that of the fourth-gen models. That being said, a quick glance at the side profile takes your brain to the new Nissan Z or a Toyota GR86. The roofline is also fairly similar to that of the new Accord, which aligns with the model’s heritage, considering the Prelude has long been based on the Accord platform.
Still, though, I’m not too sure it’s something I’m here for.
The electrified elephant in the room
Honda is open about the fact that this new take on an old friend will feature a hybrid drivetrain. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does lead me to believe that our chances of seeing one with a manual transmission are slim to none. That alone is one of my biggest points of contention with the new Prelude.
Sure, Honda has indeed made manual hybrid vehicles in the past. The issue is that the most recent hybrid/manual offering, the Honda CR-Z, is now pushing a decade since its last production year. 2015 feels pretty recent, but a lot has changed since then. It doesn’t help that halfway through Honda’s press release about the Prelude’s LA Auto Show appearance, it quickly transitions from Prelude talk to the company’s upcoming full EV release, the Prologue.
What I’m getting at here is that it’s hard to get excited about the Prelude concept. With cars like the GR Corolla, GR86, and Nissan Z filling a hole in my ‘90s manual-sports-car-loving heart, I’m struggling to get amped up about a hybrid coupe that isn’t likely to let me row my own gears.
Here’s your chance, Honda. Prove me and all the other skeptics wrong! Give us the manual transmission and, if it’s not asking too much, maybe an all-wheel drive offering? You know, since it’s going to have an electrified drivetrain, anyway.