Honda’s Prelude to return as a hybrid

Honda’s cherished coupe set to return as a sixth-generation hybrid

The Prelude is an iconic model for Honda, and the sportscar nameplate appears to be part of a revival strategy for the Japanese brand.

Although Honda had several compact EVs on display at this week’s Tokyo mobility show, the most interesting vehicle was its Prelude Concept.

From the late 1970s to the late 1990s, Prelude was Honda’s front-wheel drive coupe. It targeted buyers who wanted the distinguished presence of a coupe, with often dramatic styling, at a fair price, supported by Honda’s esteemed mechanical build quality.

Prelude became a forgotten part of Honda’s portfolio as crossovers and compact SUVs replaced front-wheel drive coupes during the 2000s and 2010s. However, this new concept attempts to revive Honda’s presence in the affordable sportscar market.

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More prototype than concept

It might have ‘Concept’ in the name, but this latest chapter of Honda’s Prelude story looks very production-ready. The design does not have outrageous surface elements, typical of most concept cars.

Each styling detail and body panel looks like something which could easily be mass-produced, with the Prelude Concept’s overall shape and detailing presented as a well-balanced design, ready to pass crash safety testing.

Although the Prelude Concept looks production-ready, Honda has been reticent about its powertrain. The only confirmation is that it will be a petrol-electric hybrid. Scrutinize Honda’s current product portfolio and the most relatable petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, is that of Accord, with a 204hp peak power output and 46mpg economy.

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Are there PHEV options?

The likelihood of a plug-in hybrid version of the Prelude Concept is low, as Honda doesn’t have an equivalent powertrain technology deployed in its Accord range, which is a similar size.

A possible plug-in hybrid powertrain for Prelude could be from the CR-V e:PHEV. Honda’s plug-in hybrid crossover is good for 181hp, 262 lb-ft of torque and an impressive 51 miles of pure electric driving range. The CR-V e:PHEV overall combined driving economy is notable, too, at 149mpg.

For the CR-V e:PHEV’s powertrain to work in a Prelude application, it would require enhanced performance. Honda would have to increase the CR-V e:PHEV’s rating from 181hp to make its plug-in hybrid powertrain valid to potential Prelude customers, if it wishes to position the sixth-generation version as a true driver’s car.

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