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JMS 2023: The Honda Prelude Concept has provided excitement for the show

Is a production version on the way soon to bring back the brand’s mojo?

Are you ready for a sixth-generation Honda Prelude? PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

As a media guest of Honda at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show, I sort of knew what to expect from the carmaker’s booth during the press day. I mean, it was quite obvious with the event’s name change from the long-standing “Tokyo Motor Show.” Which is to say that I looked forward to a somewhat boring exhibit. Instead of seeing sexy sports cars, I anticipated blandly designed vehicles as the global industry tried so hard to promote sustainable and inclusive mobility.

My suspicion was turning out to be correct as I arrived at the sprawling Honda booth. Gracing the center stage was a pair of unsexy vehicles: the driverless Cruise Origin and the recycled Sustaina-C concept. At that point, I truly wondered whether a motor show could survive with dull displays in the years to come. Was this what the automotive industry had devolved into?

Ah, but Honda saved the best for last. No, I’m not talking about the HondaJet Elite II. I’m referring to the sensual two-door coupe that told aging petrolheads that one of their favorite cars from their youth might actually come back. Guys, time to root for the Prelude Concept.

Chances are very high that Honda will produce this sporty model. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Who can forget this legendary nameplate that reached the peak of its popularity in the ’90s and disappeared for good in 2001 after five generations? Who will not remember the pop-up headlights or the four-wheel steering? Its main rivals—the Mitsubishi Eclipse and the Toyota Celica—might have had more following, but the Prelude, even to this day, has no shortage of loyal fans.

And based on the positive reaction to this concept car, these fans have very good reason to hope for a new Prelude production model. At least, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe sounded serious about the idea in his speech:

I have introduced some of the mobility products that embody Honda’s dreams, which represent the Honda of today and the future. But we know our customers are expecting one more thing from Honda, and that is sports models.

At the automobile electrification business briefing we held last year, I talked about future sports models. Today, to conclude my presentation, I would like to show you one of them—the specialty sports model.

Everyone, this is the Prelude Concept.

Honda has always been committed to creating sporty vehicles. And the word “prelude” means an “introductory or preceding performance.” This model will become the prelude for our future models which will inherit the “joy of driving” into the full-fledged electrified future and embody Honda’s unalterable sports mindset. The Prelude Concept is a specialty sports model that will offer exhilarating experience that makes you want to keep going forever, and extraordinary excitement you never felt before.

In order to offer the “joy of driving” only Honda can realize, we are diligently progressing with development, so please keep your expectations high for this model.

Honda understands that the future of motoring need not be boring. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

That sounds a solid yes to me. It may be electrified, but it also shows that Honda hasn’t given up on its sporty DNA and the driving excitement that made it so successful among car aficionados when I was just starting out in the industry.

So, you see, as with other car brands, Honda has no choice but to change the direction of its business. Its offerings should now be eco-friendly, sustainable, inclusive and safe, but the company is not afraid to still play the passion and exhilaration game for enthusiasts. Because tomorrow need not be monotonous.

And yes, tomorrow can still be sexy.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.