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Car reviews - Honda - Prelude - Si

Our Opinion

We like
Styling, performance, 4WS manoeuvrability, front-seat comfort, exquisite engineering
Room for improvement
Expensive parts and servicing, hard ride, cramped rear seat, no ABS brakes on earlier models

Honda logo18 Jun 2003

By MALCOLM LIVERMORE

HONDA first introduced four-wheel steering to Australia with the Prelude 4WS in late 1987. The Prelude was aimed at buyers looking for a high quality front-wheel drive luxury sports coupe and who could afford the premium price.

The Prelude's interior provided space and comfortable seating for the driver and front passenger. The rear seating area offered limited knee and head room and, for adults, was comfortable for short trips only.

The standard equipment list from 1990 for the Si included four-wheel steering, electric windows, cruise control, AM/FM radio, alloy wheels and an electrically operated glass sunroof.

In late 1990 the Prelude was upgraded with revised grille, bumper bars and rear lights. A package including anti-lock brakes and leather trim was made an option for the Si Coupe.

The Prelude Cita was available from August, 1991, until the release of a completely new Prelude in December, 1991. The Cita added air-conditioning and a CD player as standard equipment.

The 2.0-litre, fuel-injected engine has double overhead camshafts, 16-valve cylinder head and a power output of 106kW. The all-aluminium engine is tilted back to allow a lower bonnet line.

A five-speed manual transmission was standard with an option of a four-speed automatic. The automatic transmission had sport and normal shift modes and a locking torque converter.

The Prelude used Honda's independent double wishbone suspension system, coil springs and anti-roll bars at the front and rear.

The rear wheel steering is operated by a clever mechanical steering linked to the front steering rack. It steers the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels at low angle steering wheel inputs. As more steering lock is applied, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels to assist turn-in, resulting in a car which is more manoeuvrable at low speeds and easier to park in tight spots.

Fuel consumption in city and suburbs will vary between 9 and 11 litres per 100 kilometres, and 8 and 10 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway.

The Prelude's engine does not lack flexibility or outright power but most of the power is produced at higher rpm. This means the gearbox has to be used for best performance.

Engine, transmission and chassis durability of the Prelude is very good. Anti-lock brakes and four-wheel steer do add some mechanical complexity to the Prelude but Honda has the ability to develop new technology that remains problem free.

The Prelude combines good all-round performance, high equipment levels and high quality.

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