GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE GQ -

Honda re­dis­cov­ers its tech-laden mojo. We like.

There’s so much tricked-up tech jammed un­der the NSX’S Gun­damin­spired light­weight skin that the tech­nol­ogy blog­ger GQ shared a car with at the model’s Por­tuguese launch wept, openly, ev­ery time he pushed the but­tons to switch be­tween ‘Quiet’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Track’ modes. These op­tions grad­u­ally en­gage the en­tirely elec­tri­fy­ing com­bi­na­tion of bat­tery-packed mo­tors and a good old scream­ing V6 en­gine for max­i­mum in­ten­sity. That typ­i­cally high-revving Honda en­gine is twin tur­bocharged to make 373kw, but the ge­nius of the NSX is that when you plant your foot, the ini­tial shove comes from an elec­tric ‘Di­rect Drive Mo­tor’ at­tached to the rear wheels, com­bined with a ‘Twin Mo­tor Unit’ un­der the bon­net, with one for each of the front wheels. Com­bine all four power sources and you have 427kw and 646Nm at your dis­posal, but the high­light is the way the EV torque fills the hole as the tur­bos are spool­ing up, mean­ing there’s a Tesla-like surge of ini­tial g-forces, fol­lowed by an even more stu­pen­dous shove in the back when the old-school en­gine joins in. The re­sult is a flurry of fan­tas­tic­ness that feels not un­like a small bul­let train, ac­com­pa­nied by all kinds of whoosh­ing, jet-tur­bine sounds and loud bangs as you’re fired swiftly be­tween the NSX’S nine gears. Yes, nine – first just for launch­ing, seven for driv­ing, and the ninth purely for cruis­ing. Of course, this new NSX had to be fan­tas­tic and tech­ni­cally ad­vanced, be­cause it fol­lows in the size­able foot­steps of the great­est car to come out of Honda (or Ja­pan, for that mat­ter), the orig­i­nal NSX. This leg­endary, and now highly col­lectable, Fer­rari-beater was launched in 1990 and built in lim­ited num­bers un­til 2005. Fans have awaited its re­place­ment ever since, through some fairly hum­drum years for Honda.

The pres­sure for it to be fast, and fu­ri­ous, is huge, yet Honda won’t say what the claimed zero to 100km/h time is, though it will ad­mit it’s less than three sec­onds. To be hon­est, we wouldn’t be sur­prised if it came in un­der two – it feels that fast. Bet­ter yet, the car’s su­perlight, su­per-ad­vanced alu­minium body shell is so taut (300 per cent more re­sis­tant to twist­ing forces than a Fer­rari 458, claims the PR guff) and its steer­ing so per­fectly en­gi­neered that it’s pos­si­ble to throw it around a track like a rac­ing driver, even if you’re a novice be­hind the wheel. Or a tech blog­ger. The ‘Twin Mo­tor Unit’ is the key, pro­vid­ing in­stan­ta­neous torque vec­tor­ing to each front wheel to help pull you through cor­ners, even as the car is wag­ging its tail. With colour­ful use of the lit­eral, Honda calls its sys­tem ‘Su­per Han­dling All Wheel Drive’, and, hap­pily, it gen­uinely does what it says on the sticker. Here, then, is a su­per­car that’s as easy to drive as it is to love – an ab­so­lutely bal­lis­tic and truly ground­break­ing ma­chine that com­bines the mod­ern magic of EV thrust with the Ja­panese mumbo of a Nis­san GT-R. Other than the fact that its ‘Quiet’ mode is as point­less as a gun that shoots fairy dust, it’s hard to fault (but pushed to, the styling will cer­tainly di­vide opin­ions). The fi­nal look of this NSX is the work of a bunch of Amer­i­cans, be­cause that’s where more than 50 per cent of sales will go, and its mean and ex­treme lines will no doubt be pop­u­lar with video gamers and peo­ple who think Las Ve­gas is the classi­est place on Earth. Oth­ers will ar­gue Honda can build a car that’s as good as a Fer­rari, but it can’t de­sign one that’s sex­ier. Those who like the style and have $420,000 lay­ing idle can order one now for de­liv­ery in early 2017. Not cheap, but, com­pared to com­peti­tors like the La Fer­rari or Mclaren P1, it’s a bit of a bar­gain. Honda, fi­nally, is back. And in a big way.

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