Honda Prelude Review from Estonia

1997 Honda Prelude BB9 Si 2.0i SOHC F20A4 98kW

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2008
Most recent year of ownership2009
Engine and transmission 2.0i SOHC F20A4 98kW Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.8 / 10
Distance when acquired255000 kilometres
Most recent distance265000 kilometres
Previous carBMW 3 Series

Summary:

Got to love it

Faults:

Suspension is getting squeaky on Estonian roads. However in Estonia most roads are something that Western-Europeans haven't seen for decades in their countries :).

I managed to damage the drivers door handle simply by pulling it very fast (was in hurry).

Both rear wheel bearings replaced. It is typical for Honda to fail close to 250 000 km in Estonia (had a Civic which had the same issue). It is thanks to rough roads.

It is typical for Hondas with mileage above 250t km too have some vacuum leaks. Not sure if it's the EGR system that leaks or the vacuum lines. Sometimes the engine is low on power, but as it warms up, it gets back spicy again.

General Comments:

Engine slightly underpowered. In the upper range it does not have the typical Honda "blow-u-away" power. If it had 10 more kilowatts, it would be perfect.

For a sports car - very economic. In the city 9... 9,5L/100km. With total street hooligan behavior managed to get 10,9L/100km. On the road slightly above 7l/100km.

Gearbox has very short gear ratios. It is nice for racing, but on road it's annoying: 3500RPM at 120km/h makes a lot of noise (compared to BMW).

Reliability is excellent except for the stiff suspension, which cannot handle manholes very well (has not broke down, but already squeaks).

I push the engine to 5kRPM each time I drive to work with it. Simply cause there are few places on the road which are too fun to skip :). The engine has not shown any signs of fatigue, nor has the body get any less stiff.

The steering is shortly said "cool". It is possible to get controllable 4 wheel drift with it. Simply tip the brake pedal in a curve for second and shortly after accelerate - there it goes.

The car is very firm. Since it does not have the power of serious sports car, you can replace the fun with simply driving through every corner with speed above 50km/h. People who are inside the car for the first time get very pale when I accelerate slightly more aggressively in the corners. It tends to under-steer from some point, but it is slightly over-steering when the engine is at full throttle during cornering. The car turn radius is not comfortable for parking. Without 4 wheel steering, it's problematic.

Brakes are powerful. Too powerful for winter time - each sharper braking on snow causes the ABS to kick in. Same is with throttle response. Honda engineers have made the throttle valve cable wheel so small that it acts like a motorbike. It is good for playing with throttle in racing, but accelerating on snow is complicated.

I would conclude that it is obvious that the stability, cornering ability and brake power is meant for the 2,2L VTEC engines. The 2,0L engine is not evil enough to use them all.

German Prelude enthusiasts claim that if one swaps the inlet manifold and exhaust manifold with the ones from H23 engine (direct bolt-on), the F20A engine gets power above 110kW. And accelerates something between 8,2..8,5 seconds to 100km/h. The stock is 9,1 seconds. I am going to try this swap in the near future.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th September, 2009

Average review marks: 8.8 / 10, based on 1 review