Honda's Prelude Reboot: A Toyota Prius-Porsche Taycan Mashup? - story Go to full screen story Fullscreen

Honda's Prelude Reboot: A Toyota Prius-Porsche Taycan Mashup?

Set to hit the road by 2026, we go over why the design of the upcoming Prelude is a missed opportunity for Honda

by Amrit Balraj on July 10, 2024, 07:30

For five generations, the Prelude was one of Honda’s most technologically advanced models, known for its agile handling and performance features from the 1970s through to the ’90s. Now, after more than two decades, the iconic nameplate is making a comeback, in a brand new avatar with a new hybrid heart. However, the web is abuzz owing to some of the design choices that Honda has made with its upcoming sports car. The front end appears to have borrowed cues from the new Toyota Prius and Crown. Looking at the rear, things once again look oddly familiar. The tail-end of the sixth-gen Prelude features a narrow light bar and strategically placed model and brand name, that appears to come straight from Porsche’s design studio. But why did Honda make these design choices when they had the opportunity to start from a clean slate?

  • Honda unveiled the Prelude concept last year at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show, after 23 years.
  • Like the original, the new one will also be a 2-door coupe. Although Honda has declined to call it a ’sports car’.
  • The Honda Prelude is scheduled for a 2026 release.

Confusing: But Is The New Design A Homage To Honda Or Porsche?

Honda's Prelude Reboot: A Toyota Prius-Porsche Taycan Mashup? storyboard - image 185573

Beyond the Prius-like front end, the rear of the Prelude seems to share some very distinct similarities with the Porsche Taycan. Even the cursive font used by Honda carries an uncanny resemblance to the Taycan font. Strangely enough, this cursive font is one that Honda used on the Prelude in the ’90s. But the combination of the light bar along with the placement of the model brand, and model names are the controversial bits that make it appear like a Porsche.

We wonder, is Honda taking inspiration from the Porsche brand or simply copying their homework? After all, design plays an important role in instilling brand identity and image in the subconscious mind of potential customers. Is this a subtle strategy being employed by Honda here to reproduce Porsche’s premium experience? This seems unlikely but, it could be Honda’s admiration of Porsche which translated to a design homage.

In Honda’s defense, we also have to consider design trends and the fact that light bars seem to be making a comeback. The Macan EV, the Cayenne, the new Audi A8, and even the Lincoln Continental feature full-width light bars on the tailgate. Maybe we are witnessing the winds of change, as features seen on high-end models eventually trickle down to everyone.

Are We Witnessing The Death Of Creativity In Design?

Honda's Prelude Reboot: A Toyota Prius-Porsche Taycan Mashup? storyboard - image 185571

Back in the day, you could instantly distinguish a car from a brand. For example, there was no way you could confuse a Volvo with any other brand’s model. The boxy profile was unmistakable. In the past, Honda even borrowed some Volvo design cues for the tail lights on its CR-V. In the old days, it was not about: whether one car was prettier than the other, it was about distinct brand identity which was expressed through design. Cars these days are manufactured to appeal to a global audience, using only the most efficient manufacturing processes. According to data shared by automotive data scientist Jökull Solberg, about 40% of cars sold in 1996 were monochromatic (black, white, silver, or grey). Twenty years later, that figure had risen to 80%. This paints a grim picture, are we barreling toward a future where automobiles are losing their visual charm?

In isolation, there’s nothing wrong with the way the Prelude looks. The reception from the automotive world has been warm since everyone loved the original Prelude. However despite some unique details like the blue accents and use of carbon fiber, the lack of originality when it comes to the overall aesthetic makes us wonder if this revival will live up to the expectations of JDM fans or if it’ll be another forgettable comeback like the more recent 4-door Acura Integra. Perhaps the way it drives could be some saving grace. While we know that it will feature a hybrid powertrain, specs like horsepower numbers remain under wraps. We presume that the upcoming Prelude will feature a hybrid system, akin to the recently unveiled Honda Civic Hybrid. A price point between the $30,000-$40,000 bracket would help it take on the likes of the Mazda Miata, Toyota GR86, Subaru BRZ, and even the entry-level Nissan Z.

Amrit Balraj

Amrit Balraj

Features Writer Read full bio