Autoblog was not all around for the literal initial generate assessment, but as they say, it really is superior late than never ever. Get a vacation down memory lane in our latest retro initial generate.
“Designed to be an aggressive athletics coupe with outstanding dealing with, the Prelude is meant to charm to motorists who will appreciate its large stage of general performance and refinement,” the press launch for the 1997 Honda Prelude reads.
And that is just the initial sentence. Paragraphs and pages of complex specifics follow, all explaining why the Prelude’s new fifth-generation design was much outstanding to the now exceptional earlier car. Possibly Honda product or service planners knew it at the time, or possibly they didn’t, but this was to be the final of quite a few generations of Prelude. The audience was to be no different than ahead of. The Prelude would stay a dear two-door, aimed at potential buyers seeking anything entertaining, but more experienced, attractive and distinctive than a Honda Civic Coupe.
Top-quality dealing with with sophisticated dealing with technology performed a pivotal aspect in previous Preludes. For illustration, Honda’s 4-wheel-steer procedure debuted in the Honda Prelude in the late 1980s. This new Prelude was no different in its pursuit of front-wheel-generate perfection, specially, the Prelude Type SH.
To remedy a front-wheel-generate car’s all-natural inclination to understeer when powering out of corners, Honda released the Lively Torque Transfer Technique (ATTS) for the new, assortment-topping Prelude Type SH. It is no lame brake-centered torque vectoring procedure, either. No, ATTS steers the car and raises the quantity of torque likely to the outside wheel to counteract that inclination to understeer. It is somewhat advanced, too. A battery of sensors collects all the necessary highway and car data, then a personal computer establishes how a lot torque should really be utilized and how a lot a lot quicker the outside wheel should really rotate as opposed to the within wheel. Torque is despatched through a differential to a planetary equipment established in the Minute Manage Unit (this is the magical piece that multiplies the rotational speed) and then again through the differential to the outside wheel. The MCU is able of boosting the outside wheel speed by 15%, and the car is in the end able of sending up to eighty% of the generate force to that outer wheel.
There’s a lot of generate force to send out to those people wheels, too, since our 1999 Honda Prelude SH examination car is packing a two.two-liter obviously aspirated 4-cylinder superior for two hundred horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. It has five hp more than the 1997 and 1998 design several years, and oh yeah, it completely has VTEC. Redline isn’t as large as most VTEC-equipped Hondas, but this a single nonetheless goes to seven,four hundred rpm. What it loses in revs, it would make up for in torque, as it is a bit more substantial in displacement than other large-po Honda 4-cylinders.
Shifting is finest taken care of by on your own with a five-speed handbook transmission — the restricted ratios continue to keep the electrical power on boil when shifted in close proximity to redline. There was a 4-speed automatic transmission out there, but to this working day, you drop five horsepower and the car’s soul when buying it. It also couldn’t be merged with the SH’s ATTS.
Even non-Type SH autos delight in magnificent dealing with since Honda used a 4-wheel double-wishbone suspension design and style. It was revised for the fifth-gen car, and introduced dealing with, journey and other strengths to the Prelude — Honda pointed out the design’s “almost universal use on large general performance and racing autos.” Touché. A person less evident gain is a decreased hood line and cowl, due to the fact there is no need to have for a tall strut tower up front. Remaining capable to see more of the highway in advance is somewhat awesome. Who’d have thunk it?
From the driver’s seat, it is one hundred% standard Honda operating equipment. A primary and conveniently readable instrument cluster stares again a much cry from the retro, digital landscape of a dash on the fourth-gen Prelude. By extension, it really is also less interesting. Honda lists (too quite a few to recount right here) strategies it went about lowering sounds and vibrations in this generation of Prelude, but there are relatively couple luxuries, even in the Type SH. It has a sunroof, but the only seats out there were being cloth and are manually operated. The essentials like cruise regulate, handbook climate regulate and electrical power locks are present, but the fourth-generation car could be designed more lavish, and perhaps Honda at the time was keeping again some niceties to preserve a case for buying the aging Acura Integra.
The Prelude begins up quietly, and the lack of torque down below 3,000 rpm does not inspire a lookup for more up large. Driven without the need of purpose, it is a properly pleasurable every day driver that does not disturb the passengers. The suspension is comfortably compliant, and it accomplishes its target of remaining refined in the cabin. Really, nothing about this car screams sporty to begin with.
A different car wakes up when the tach needle swings previous five,000 rpm. The staid coupe turns into a howling “aggressive athletics coupe.” Yes, Honda’s description was apt. A sonorous roar enters the cabin, expanding in volume and musicality as seven,four hundred rpm strategies. It is a uncomplicated, but rather sound, a single we could get made use of to listening to working day in and working day out. It revs swiftly, too. 1st equipment goes by in a flash. A brief stab at the gentle clutch pedal and brief pull into next equipment is fulfilling, and then the indignant bees are again. The car isn’t spectacularly brief by any measure (Automobile and Driver measured the dash to 60 mph in seven. seconds in 2019, which was around the similar as when new), but the electrical power band encourages your proper foot to continue to be down. It gets more robust and surges forward with expanding tenacity all the way until finally it is time to seize an additional equipment and start the approach about.
As an vacant roundabout strategies, it appears to be the great prospect to see what the ATTS can really do. In its place of the front conclusion washing out in a sea of screeching rubber mid-corner, the nose tucks in obediently, and the car silently passes through to the other side. Now that was peculiar. No understeer, no oversteer. A identical final result happens on every subsequent corner the Prelude Type SH is tossed into. There’s no fuss in any way. In its place of fighting the car through the corner, it conveniently picks up speed, and the outside wheel sends it through to the other side like a slingshot. The outcome is most apparent in tighter corners wherever the within front wheel would historically spin up beneath electrical power and slow you down. That just does not take place in the Type SH. It would make driving quick simpler and more satisfying, all when silently functioning in the background. It enormously lessens the negatives of driving a front-wheel generate car, but let us not provide this chassis brief.
The steering rack isn’t lightning-brief, but it is full of experience and communicates the highway problems and cornering forces proper again to the driver. There’s sufficient compliance in the structure to soak up bumps on weak streets mid-corner without the need of getting unstable, aiding driver assurance to continue to keep pushing. From a numbers viewpoint, the 63/37 front/rear excess weight distribution does not look superior. The motor sits way too much forward up front, but Honda nonetheless managed to make this car experience well balanced all around corners. The overall body roll is controlled sufficient to enable the car tackle brief transitions without the need of receiving out of kinds. Stiffer shocks would probable quell a bit of the slop, but then the satisfying journey would deteriorate along with it.
By present-day specifications, the Prelude’s electrical power and dealing with tech nonetheless retains up. That very low rpm shove from minimal turbocharged engines is certainly nowhere to be observed, but that is just a fantastic justification to continue to keep the revs up and expertise the stupid-brief throttle reaction you get up best.
The ATTS progressed both equally in philosophy and technology into the SH-AWD tech out there on most new Acuras, so a single could say that the Type SH inevitably led to the company’s current working day torque vectoring regulate. In apply, the Type SH feels like some new front-wheel-generate general performance autos with a minimal-slip differential. It is finest as opposed to other folks like the Civic Si, Civic Type R and Veloster N in its outcome. These autos are more quickly, but they all do a bang-up position of tugging you through corners a lot quicker than you normally believed you’d be likely. You do have to be patient with the Prelude’s steering — it is not anywhere in close proximity to as brief as new athletics autos — but hey, the tires can basically converse to you through the wheel!
Altered for inflation, the 1999 Honda Prelude Type SH would price all around $40,000 today. You can select up any selection of clean made use of examples for less than $ten,000, but be expecting to pay out more for a Type SH, this kind of as the various that have bought on Convey a Trailer. They will not be as awesome as this pristine museum piece, but a Prelude is multipurpose sufficient to be your every day, canyon and observe car. Uncover a single ahead of they get as pricey as other previous Hondas.
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