Got the page scanned! And also, in text, just in case (plus it can be searched).
Honda Prelude VTEC
The tortoises and the hare
by Richard Homan
Road & Track, November 1992
The new Prelude VTEC's acceleration numbers would put it in Honda's Hall of Fame (if the company had one). The car bests its impressive stablemate, the Prelude Si, which we tested in November of last year, by a half-second and then some. A small smount of this Prelude's 7.1-second dart from 0 to 60 mph can be attributed to its having a shorter 2nd gear than the Si (as well as shorter 3rd, 4th and 5th gears in the standard 5-speed manual transmission), but the rest of the credit goes to the VTEC engine advertised in the car's name.
VTEC - short and sideways for Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control - is Honda's engien mechanism in which three cam lobes act upon each set of intake and exhaust valves. At low- and midrange engine speeds, the two short-duration/low-lift lobes actuate the valve rocker arms. At higher rpm, the third lobe - longduration/high-lift - kicks in to improve the engine's upper-range respiration.
In the U.S., VTEC technology has inspired the Acura NSX and given an extra boot to the Integra GS-R. In the Honda Prelude, a 2.2-liter 16-valve inline-4 VTEC engine produces 190 bhp at 6800 rpm (the Si's redline is only 6500, incidentally), making the VTEC-version Prelude the most powerful Honda offered in the U.S.
Unlike in the Integra GS-R, where the VTEC intervention is almost imperceptible, the VTE Prelude driver has a subtle "power bump" to look forward to at about 4800 rpm where the third lobe goes to work and the smooth onrush of power continues. A spirited driver will do very well by spending much of the time in this second band of power.
I was able to get firsthand impressions of the car's high-speed character during a few foot-to-the-floormat laps at Honda's HPCC proving ground in the desert above Los Angeles. As it sits now, HPCC consists of a few air-conditioned buildings serving a 7.5-mile unbanked oval surrounding a desert tortoise conservation area. The tortises were there first, and they get priority as a number of signs around the complex diligently remind guests. On the track, however, speed was the order, and the VTEC Prelude proved that it was not only quick, but also fast, nudging its 7500-rpm redline and arriving at an indicated top speed of 140 mph. Make that a very steady top speed as well, with Honda's 2+2 coupe reaching its upper range with very little fuss and holding it, unruffled by crosswinds blowing through the Fremont Valley.
On public roads at public speeds, the VTEC Prelude proved to be an extremely pleasant companion. Its tendency when pushed it to push back; that is, the coupe exhibits a moderate does of understeer in hard cornering. Its 205/55R-15 all-season tires tend to scramble about at times, looking for traction, especially when one's driving style includes animated launches off the line and brisk acceleration out of those tight corners.
With the exception of the VTEC exterior badging, the low-volume Prelude plays its cards close to its chest. On the inside, Honda includes a passenger's-side airbag (all Prelude drivers get an airbag), 7-speaker AM/FM cassette sound system and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Bigger-than-standard-Prelude brakes (with ABS, of course) are also part of the VTEC package, which is expected to price-out at around $23,000, or just about the same as a 4-wheel-steer Prelude Si 4WS. Between the two, unless you live in San Francisco with its tight parking and Lombard Street, the Prelude VTEC is the better way to spend 23 grand. Granted, the 4WS may have better ballet moves, but the Prelude VTEC is a quick hare, and this rabbit loves to run.
Bought a '93 VTEC new, in red, just like the one shown. Even though it was rated at 190HP, it seemed clearly quicker than the 200HP 2000 Base model I currently own. However, both the '88 SI I also bought new and the current 2000 Base handle better. The '93 had more body roll and understeer. By the way, all were/are stock.