1997 Honda Prelude Reviews from Australia and New Zealand

1997 Honda Prelude VTi-R 2.2

Model year1998
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2011
Most recent year of ownership2013
Engine and transmission 2.2 Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 4 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired130000 kilometres
Most recent distance185000 kilometres
Previous carSubaru Impreza

Summary:

Reliable, comfortable cruiser with VTEC YO!

Faults:

Rear tail light leak - easily fixed with silicone.

Intermittent air conditioning recently - the compressor kicks on cold when I don't change the temperature of the climate control, and only switch on or off; most likely something easy.

Shock knock - only really was loud to a picky person, was a factory recall and an easy free fix without disassembling the suspension.

Brake pads lasted 170 000 km and 15 years! The rotors were still alright when I changed them.

Clutch at 180 000km, and the friction material was still alright; it just broke from a quick gear shift.

Oil usage - If driven hard, be prepared to be filling up with oil as often as fuel LOL.

Side window frames prone to fade, but I fixed mine for free, headlights fade somewhat.

General Comments:

The Prelude is a great value for money sports touring car; I call it that as it's between sporty and luxurious. Preludes are great cars to drive daily and are very comfortable, I've driven 100's of cars, and had jobs driving cars, and getting in the Prelude is still one of the most comfortable; that is probably my favourite thing about the car, and cruise control is very handy.

The car handles pretty well considering its setup so soft. The suspension could go with being a tad stiffer to someone who is used to less body roll around corners, but the chassis feels solid and the car is very planted. On a rough twisty road the car just swallows the bumps and is hard to unsettle. It's setup to slightly oversteer on lift off, and the rear will glide as you trail brake through corners. It also is one of the best front wheels I've driven in the wet, as it has double wishbone, and the softish suspension would help.

Brakes are good when upgraded, but it could definitely go with bigger brakes for the size of the car.

Engine wise, it comes with a H22, which makes similar power to turbo engines of the era, and makes good torque once power comes in at 5200 RPM, but still of course lacks the torque of turbo cars; it's more comparable to a smaller V6 as far as torque and acceleration. The engine and cabin are fairly quiet, engine especially, until high revs, and then it's louder and throatier, and wants to keep revving to 8k.

Anywhere from 8 litres per 100km to 10-11 litres per 100km, depending on how it's driven.

I've only really had to do general maintenance like timing belt, clutch, spark plugs, leads, most oil seals and oil changes. Other than that, it's been pretty good and the most reliable car I've owned so far. Biggest let downs are the lack of torque at low revs and the amount of oil it uses. The car is driven hard most days, so will use more oil than most. H22's use a material on the piston walls that make it consume oil. My car has perfect compression and blows no smoke, unlike most Preludes, but still uses oil.

If taken care of they are great, but they wouldn't take kindly to misuse, so buy one with lowish km and good service history, and you will be good to go. Preferably change the timing belt and tensioner, as the tensioner will fail if the previous mechanic left it out, and won't last long. I've done all my own work on this car, and it's been pretty cheap, as parts are all over the net. The clutch cost $300, timing belt was $400 with manual tensioner swap etc etc.

Wrote this review really tired, but I'm sure I brought up most topics, excuse some of the bad grammar, hopefully this helps someone in the future!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd October, 2013

1997 Honda Prelude VTI-R 2.2L petrol

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2011
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 2.2L petrol Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired86000 kilometres
Most recent distance91500 kilometres
Previous carKia Rio

Summary:

An almost perfect mixture of comfort, style, quality and fun!

Faults:

Aftermarket immobiliser caused the lights to stop working in the car. Caused by faulty wiring. The dealer fixed it.

Passengers side electric window has stopped working. I still need to get this fixed.

General Comments:

I was looking for a reliable sports car with an exciting engine, and for a long while I had my heart set on the Honda S2000. However, I eventually realized that it was out of my price range. I'd never really been interested in Preludes, but I saw this one for sale for $10,000 with just 86,000k's on the clock. I went to have a look at it, and I instantly knew that this was the car for me.

It is silver, with a factory body kit and spoiler installed, five spoke Sparco rims and carbon fibre gear knob. On the hood there is a carbon fibre air splitter, which looks really cool. The previous two owners had the car serviced every 5000k's. So this car was extremely rare. Finding a fifth gen VTI-R Prelude in this condition and with this low amount of km's is not common.

The car is wonderful, and is the best car I've driven so far in my life. The gearbox is my favourite feature of the driving experience. It is fantastically notchy, and feels a bit like reloading a rifle. It really makes shifting a more involving experience.

The engine is gloriously revvy. When the VTEC engages at 5500rpm, the car is just brilliant to listen to and is quite fast. It seems to just love going higher and higher into the rev range. When it hits 5500rpm, the speed at which it subsequently revs to 7500rpm is pretty incredible, and gives the illusion of never-ending power.

The car handles brilliantly. The hydraulic power steering allows me to move the wheels with ease, but also gives me great feedback on where the wheels are positioned. I can really feel where they are on the tarmac, feels great. Despite being front-wheel drive, I think anyone would be impressed with the handling capabilities of this car.

The interior of the car is well made and fitted. The rubbers and plastics are mostly high quality, though there is some cheap plastic used for the centre storage compartment and electric window switches. The seats are supportive and adjust well, and there is a steering column adjustment also. The cloth used for the seats is of extremely high quality, and is nicer than leather in my opinion. I never feel cramped, but my head is very close to touching the roof. People over 6'2" may have problems fitting in comfortably.

The climate control is excellent; easy to use and really fantastic. The sunroof works perfectly, and adds some open air fun to the car. The boot is large, and can store three medium sized luggage bags.

Everything is not perfect with the Prelude however. While it's close to being the perfect 4 cylinder sports coupe, Honda failed in a few aspects.

Firstly, while it handles fantastically, I can't help but feel that if it was RWD, it would be even greater. It feels made for RWD drifting. Also, due to its FWD design, it feels very nose heavy, and would be better if there was more weight up the back of the car.

Fuel economy is disappointing if you don't drive it like a grandma. While it has the potential to have good fuel economy, it's hard not to want to drive the car with passion. Doing this however will destroy your fuel economy. Also, oil is expensive, as I’ve been advised to use fully synthetic. Revving the engine continuously past 5500rpm will result in the engine using a lot more oil than normal cars. While it's designed to be like this, it is a bit annoying and expensive.

The car is very sluggish at low revs. It is a heavy car, and at low revs the engine seems to struggle pulling along the mass. In fact, my Kia Rio feels faster under 3500rpm. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know, but it certainly feels faster. Also, due to the weight, it feels surprisingly tank-like, and the turning circle is terrible; I mean really bad. It just doesn’t feel lightweight and nimble, which I prefer.

It could have used a sixth gear for cruising, because it revs at 3500rpm at 110km/h.

So overall this is a great car, which is quite cheap these days. The car is comfortable, made with quality and precision, is easy to drive, and has the potential to be very economical. For those who like a bit of passion in their cars, the fifth gen Prelude delivers. The handling is fantastic and the engine is characterful and fun. It loves to scream and wail, and will get you around the country very quickly.

I also want to say that this car is just beautiful. Some may think it’s conservative or boring, but I disagree. The long nose and short, stubby bum is a classic coupe look, and I love the tear drop headlights. Jeremy Clarkson even stated that the Prelude was the best looking Japanese car ever produced (though I disagree, the S2000, NSX and LFA are better looking IMO).

If you're on a budget and looking for a combination of style, comfort and fun, I'm not sure there's much better than a fifth gen Prelude.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th December, 2011

Average review marks: 7.8 / 10, based on 6 reviews