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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Prelude has screaming engines, pin-sharp handling and bags of grip

Against It's got bland American styling, and the cabin is especially boring

Verdict Buy a well maintained Prelude, and you’ll never regret it

Go for… 2.2 VTi Motegi

Avoid… 2.0i Sport Auto

Honda Prelude Coupe
  • 1. The automatic gearbox has caused some problems and those fitted to the 2.2-litre car suffered most
  • 2. Light-coloured metallic cars are generally more popular than darker shades
  • 3. The cabin is not the most exciting place to be, but it's very solidly put together
  • 4. Make sure that the four-wheel steering system on VTi models is adjusted properly
  • 5. The boot is a fair size for a sporty coupe
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Honda Prelude Coupe full review with expert trade views

We’re going to let you into a little secret - under the rather bland styling of the Honda Prelude lies a great coupe. It should put a smile on your face every time you drive it and, because it’s a Honda, it’ll be a cold day in hell before anything goes wrong with it.

Hondas don’t make too many demands on their drivers, and this Prelude is no exception. Like the previous model, it combines an excellent ride with razor-sharp handling and loads of grip. In its most potent guise, it had 197bhp, and could go from 0-60mph in 7.5sec.

The build quality cannot be faulted, and although the cabin is not the most exciting place to be, it should remain rattle- and squeak-free. The back seats are only just big enough for adults, so it's really a 2+2, but the boot is a fair size for a car of this type.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

2.2i Motegi models are sought after: Super-granny's delight. Reliable but a bit tacky

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The smaller engine option was a 2.0-litre with 132bhp, while the top-of-the-range unit was a 2.2 VTi producing up to 197bhp. The 2.0 is refined, but a little too sedate, while the 2.2 is a typical Honda screamer - similar to the fantastic Civic Type-R engine.

There was an optional four-speed automatic gearbox available, but this was found to be potentially unreliable on the 2.2-litre version, so avoid it.

Both models came well equipped, but the top-of-the-range car - our favourite - came with additional technology, such as an Active Torque Transfer system and four-wheel steering.

A Motegi edition was introduced for both engines, adding a bodykit, lowered suspension, bigger alloy wheels and better cabin trim, and is worth tracking down if you can find one.

Due to the age of these cars, you’re most likely to find them in the hands of private owners. There are some with private dealers, but they charge a premium. Light-coloured metallic cars are generally more popular than darker shades.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Needs full history, but 2.2 VTi and Motegi are in demand

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Many cars have a complete main dealer service history. If you want to keep that up to date, you shouldn’t have to pay more than going to an independent garage. This will help protect resale value if you plan to sell the car on later. You also need to budget for minor services every 6000 miles.

Insuring a Prelude is also not going to be cheap. All have a group 17 rating, apart from the more powerful 2.2-litre, which is in group 18.

Official fuel consumption is 28.5mpg which, given the performance on offer, isn’t bad. It's easy to see that figure drop dramatically if you consistently push the car very hard, but it’s quite possible to achieve the official figure, so your fuel bills should be bearable.

Due to its somewhat boring image, the Prelude is generally better value for money than its rivals such as the Fiat Coupe, Ford Cougar and Nissan 200SX.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

2.2i Motegi models are sought after: Super-granny's delight. Reliable but a bit tacky

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Hondas have a reputation for reliability, and generally the Prelude is no exception. However, the automatic gearbox has caused some problems. Those fitted to the 2.2-litre engine suffered the most, with complete failures not uncommon. Replacing the unit is expensive.

There have been a couple of recalls for the coupe, so it’s worth checking to make sure the work has been carried out. Steering joints can weaken, and in the worst cases could fail, causing a total loss of control. There was also a problem with the ignition system, which might lead the car to stall.

You should make sure that the four-wheel steering system on the range-topping VTi models is adjusted properly, and check that the wear on each of the tyres is even. The alloy wheels are also prone to kerbing, and if an owner has been particularly careless, the front suspension could have been damaged at the same time.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Needs full history, but 2.2 VTi and Motegi are in demand

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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