A year ago, we were all but certain that Honda's Prelude was about to join the ranks of the dearly departed. Like so many sport coupes, its sales were slow, and there was informed speculation of the Prelude's impending demise, even within American Honda, speculation that was magnified by Honda's typical tight security concerning future products. Well, it's a year later and we're pleased to say that all the speculative doom-and-gloom, our own included, was wrong. There's a new Prelude for 1997, fifth generation in this popular series, roomier, more powerful and more technically sophisticated than generation four. In a word, better.