Honda surprised everyone at this LA Auto Show by showing up with the thinly veiled Prelude hybrid concept for the first time in the United States. And although nothing about the car’s changed since it showed up at the Japan Mobility Show, a chat with a PR representative— coupled with social media reactions to posts of the Prelude—shows that these nostalgic names really, really resonate with the public. They resonate so much, that it’s only a matter of time before Honda officially confirms the Prelude for production. Does Honda have more old-school names in store for us as it beefs up its hybrids and electric vehicles? One can only hope.
“Right now, we’re just figuring out what markets the (Prelude) could be sold in, and where it could be made,” said Honda spokesperson Chris Martin. “Since the Civic Coupe’s discontinuation, we see the Prelude filling a lot of segments in many places."
Gallery: Honda Prelude Concept
That’s very interesting to say, even though I’ll admit that maybe I’ve been a little cynical about the new Prelude Concept. As pretty as it is, it to me, feels like a refreshed version of the old Civic Coupe. It's not a bad thing, but the Civic Coupe died in part because of low sales. And yet, a pleasant restyling and familiar name has renewed interest in a once-unpopular body style. Why? Is it nostalgia? It could be, according to Martin.
“People ask us all the time if we’re going to bring back some of these nameplates; Element, Integra, Prelude….and they’re strong nameplates, so why not?” Acura did it with the transition from ILX to “Integra,” and it’s become one of Acura’s strongest-selling models, he said. No one liked the ILX, but everyone loves the Integra, even if there's not a ton of daylight between the two; both were powered-up nice versions of the Honda Civic.
Likewise, the Civic Coupe may have flopped, but given the strong reception to the Prelude, maybe we could see a return of the sporty compact coupe. Adding hybrid power this time around will cut emissions too, which many buyers want, even if it means it won't be the sportiest car in the Honda lineup.
“At this time, we don’t have any coupes in our U.S. lineup, as Civic buyers trended more toward the hatch version, and that could create some white space for Prelude in the future if we see enough demand for this sporty coupe here,” Martin later said in an email.
Will we see other nameplates return? It’s not clear quite yet, but I think a boxy EV crossover where you can hose out the floor could be a fun use of the name Element. One thing’s for sure though—it sounds like Honda truly does see the return of the Prelude in our future.