Driving - Dynamics & Handling - Ride & Comfort - Drivetrain & Performance
the saying goes, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating".
The Prelude drives as well as it looks. Often criticized by the
those not yet fortunate enough to drive one as a 'poser' or 'hair
dresser's' car. These descenters are often made to eat their words
as they are shown the only side of the Prelude they'll ever see
while racing it, the rear.
Dynamics and Handling
The extremely low centre of gravity is often evident when the Prelude is
parked next to another car. The height of the bonnet and roof is markedly
lower than most high-performance cars. The result is a car that is almost
telepathic in the way it communicates with the driver. The steering
is so direct and the feedback so wonderfully tactile, it's
that every bump doesn't wrench the wheel from your hands. There is almost
zero bump steer and understeer is only induced at near lunatic speeds.
Initial turn in is almost kart-like in its responsiveness. With just 2.4
turns lock to lock the Prelude may take some getting used to at first as
the car wants to dart off at
In high-speed corners, and driven to 8/10s (80%), the Prelude feels like
a rear wheel drive thoroughbred sports car. Push it to 10/10s (100%) and
some of its front drive characteristics come into play (ie understeer).
Closser to the limit however, the front will begin to push towards understeer
will all front drive cars). Most modern rear wheel drive cars are no better
in this regard as most of them are engineered to produce 'safe and predictable'
understeer at the limit, even the awesome Porsche 911 Turbo will invariably
understeer at the limit unless the driver is absolutely brutal with the
right foot. Ease off the Prelude's throttle and the front simply tucks
back in. While all this
is happening, the 4WS system is working invisibly, eliminating roll-oversteer
by reducing the front to rear slip angle and thus assisting the rear in
keeping up with the cat like reactions of the front.
Lifting-off too sharply on the limit will cause the rear to come around
and will eventually send you off the road traveling backwards. However,
chassis, you only need to apply power and a bit of opposite lock to bring
it back under control and heading out of the corner. Or just apply opposite
lock and a touch of power for some rally style fun. The Prelude will reward
drivers of all skill levels, however, be warned, 7/10s (70%) should be
the most an untrained and inexperienced driver should push. This is a thoroughbred
sports car and Honda only intended experienced drivers to explore the spectrum
of the Preludes performance envelope. The Prelude can and will spit you
off the road if you're pushing it to its limit and aren't skilled enough
to deal with the unexpected, which often comes in the form of misjudged
entry speed, misjudged corner radius/angle, change in road surface - all
of which will force you to lift off the
throttle, and pitch the Prelude into snap oversteer. Be ready to correct
the slide by turning into the direction of travel, applying just enough
power to transfer weight to the rear wheels and scrub off speed to carry
the car through the corner. Sounds scary? Welcome to the real world of
real sports cars. This isn't a sedan with two doors chopped off, the Prelude
is a purpose built sports car with the intent of entertaining the driver
and rewarding the experienced driver.
Ride and Comfort
What I just described might make you think that this is a no compromise
sports car, like the Lotus Elise. To the contrary, this is a grand tourer.
The ride is remarkably smooth for a car with its handling prowess. Noise,
Vibration and Harshness (NVH) is kept to luxury car levels.
Drivetrain and Performance
The Engine pulls strongly from 3000rpm onwards. Passing 5000rpm, you will
hear and feel the secondary intake tract open up - ensuring the B20A6 powerplant
gets the air it needs to produce its maximum power.
Launching is easy, dial up 4000rpm and simply let out the clutch. Balance
the traction with the throttle and your off to 58km/h @ 7000rpm (elecronic
cut-out). Grab second gear with the gloriously smooth, short-throw gearbox
drop straight into its power band and hurl you along to 100km/h in less
than 9 seconds. Not bad for a car manufactured in 1988 and with just 2
litres and 4 cylinders. Heel toeing is a must when entering a corner -
and the Prelude's well designed foot pedals and accurate synchromesh makes
it so easy. Third gear is required at 100km/h where the Honda is spinning
madly at 7000rpm. You'll need fourth at 147km/h and fifth at 196km/h on
your way to the 231km/h top speed (given a very long straight stretch of
road (ahem, track). Listen to my B20A6 being put through its paces with 7000rpm shifts in 1st and 2nd gears. I'm sure you'll agree that its quite an aural delight.
And when you're not in a hurry, the cruise control works brilliantly keeping
you at the desired speed and making sure you're not contributing to the
speed tax officer's (Police) income. Air conditioning makes sure you're
never hot or flustered and the glass house cockpit maximises your situational
If you're ever presented with the opportunity, I urge you to drive this
venerable sports car. It will leave you wondering why most manufacturers
have taken what seems to be a backward step in sports car design.