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Fed up with SUVs? New Honda Prelude aims to make coupes cool again

Expected to cost under £40,000, the Honda Prelude aims to reignite the affordable coupe market

  • New two-door sports coupe
  • Hybrid engine, front-wheel drive
  • Coming next year, expected to cost under £40,000

You’re looking at the new Honda Prelude, a two-door concept car that promises to deliver sporty looks, driving enjoyment and efficiency in equal measures. Unlike most sports car concepts manufacturers cook up as styling exercises, Honda has confirmed that the new Prelude has been given the green light for production. The car revealed in these pictures is very close to the showroom version that European customers will be able to buy next year.

What do I need to know about the new Honda Prelude?

The driving idea behind the new Honda Prelude is to reintroduce the mass-market, affordable sports coupe in the modern age. The Japanese carmaker believes there is still an audience for fun and efficient small cars today, despite the ever-growing popularity of SUVs. Chief engineer and project lead, Tomoyuki Yamagami, described the new Prelude like a “glider” – both incredibly efficient, but also “agile and joyful”.

While you could argue that the Toyota GR86 and Mazda MX-5 are already championing the same cause, legislation changes have cut short the Toyota’s production run, and neither is particularly efficient in today’s era of electrification. Honda hopes that the new Prelude will improve on both fronts, being both a mass-production model but also using a hybrid system to improve fuel efficiency.

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While technical details are still under wraps, we do know that the Prelude will pinch much of the current Honda Civic’s architecture, including its front-wheel drive layout. Under the bonnet will sit a hybrid powertrain, which we suspect will also borrow heavily from the Civic. That would mean a 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with two electric motors – a system Honda calls ‘e:HEV’. We’re fans of the Civic’s sporty nature and nippy 181bhp engine, but it’s plausible that the Prelude could introduce some performance upgrades to turn things up a notch.

There are no immediate plans for a Type R version of the Prelude, even though Yagamami hinted that the Civic Type R’s 324bhp engine would fit under the bonnet. Instead, Honda is planning future expansion to the Prelude range, perhaps to include an all-electric version once the hybrid has been “accepted by customers first”.

While we’ve only had a chance to see a pre-production concept of the Honda Prelude, we’re told that customers can expect their cars to look near-identical. The sleek, two-door coupe body will remain, with a wide stance and more than a hint of the second-generation Honda NSX supercar. The concept version is fitted with black, 20-inch alloy wheels which appear to be production-ready, and a carbon-fibre lip spoiler. We haven’t been able to take a peek at the interior yet, but we expect it to feature two small rear seats, much like the Toyota GR86.

How much will the Honda Prelude cost and when can I buy one?

As with the technical details, Honda has remained tight-lipped on the Prelude’s pricing. But, judging by the Civic-based underpinnings, a starting price of under £40,000 would seem reasonable and provide enough of a gap to the £50,000 Civic Type R above. It will arrive in European showrooms next year, following its full reveal in production guise.

Why not read about a different take on the Japanese performance car – the new Toyota GR Yaris?

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