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Car reviews - Honda - Prelude - VTi-R coupe

Our Opinion

We like
Performance, efficiency, style, quality, handling
Room for improvement
Drab interior, tight rear space

13 Feb 2001

DESPITE what the critics say, the fifth-generation Prelude still looks striking. The teardrop headlights add character while the well-proportioned side and rear shapes recall old-school Preludes.

Inside, after years of futuristic interior design, Honda has gone for a disappointingly conventional dash.

The cabin seems airier, as the bigger glass area improves all-round vision, and there is marginally more space for smaller folk in the back. But it is still a tight fit.

Those bigger windows also mean Prelude is now easier to park. Gone is that closed-in feel of the old model.

A pleasant surprise is Prelude now offers a bigger boot, which gets even larger when the rear seat is folded. But beware of the annoying high loading lip that must be traversed when hauling heavy luggage in or out.

Mechanically, the car is basically an upgrade of the old model with the double wishbone suspension and 2.2-litre VTEC (variable valve timing and electronic lift control) engine at the heart of the VTi-R.

VTEC is able to vary the valve opening depending on engine speed to boost torque at low speed and maximise power at high revs.

The VTEC-equipped engine has been tweaked with power up to 143kW at 7000rpm and torque increased to 212Nm at 5250rpm. It loves to rev and always sounds as if it is enjoying it.

Performance is quick rather than startling but is still good for the class.

The five-speed manual is smooth although the clutch is a little light. The "SportShift" Tiptronic-style automatic is a worthwhile choice.

The ride is impressive as it soaks up bumps and sharp ridges with ease. The handling shows off the Prelude as agile and predictable in its responses, with minimal understeer.

The steering is precise and communicative.

Dynamically, the Prelude offers a far more satisfying drive than the old car and adds more refinement, a better ride and better value. It is a pleasant and accomplished sports coupe.

- Automotive NetWorks 16/06/1999

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