It’s a sign that Honda is coming out of its self-induced coma
THERE’S something brewing in Ohio— other than weak coffee and lousy beer, that is.
Carsguide has gleaned from a source close to the company that in July Honda sent several of its top test drivers and engineers to Honda of America’s R&D centre in Ohio for no less than five years.
Ohio has a huge proving ground and is the place where nearly all US-focused strategic models are developed— and this is where the hotly anticipated next-generation NSX, which is due in 2015, is being evaluated. There’s more. Our source says that for such a high-powered team to be there means more besides the NSX. Two more things in fact, in the form of sports coupes, due in 2017.
Both of these will be smaller and cheaper than the flagship NSX, one employing a hybrid powertrain, the other a direct injection turbo.
We are told Honda bosses want to create a highperformance sports car to fill the sizeable gap between the NSX and the ageing 660cc Beat mini-car— which, in any case, we don’t get.
Five years ago, Honda shelved an obscure project referred to internally as the ‘‘ small NSX.’’ At that time, the V10-powered NSX was in the final stages of development and the ‘‘ small NSX’’ was just one of several other advanced R&D ideas in the design room.
When the financial crisis hit, all sports car projects were suspended— very unwisely, as Toyota’s runaway success with its 86 has shown.
But now not only is the NSX well on the way but that smaller NSX is also, which brings to mind a successor to the high-revving S2000. Could the new coupe be an S2000 successor, if not as a roadster precisely, then in the price bracket that the now long-dead roadster occupied?
As you can see in the artist’s impression, the new mini-NSX will use some strong edgy design hints from its big brother. Initial reports suggested the new car may get a rear-wheel drive setup, in line with its mid-engined layout. Our insider says a more likely result will be ‘‘ anAWD configuration, using the wellknown SH-AWD system, much like that on the next NSX’’.
It turns out that dealers of Acura (as top-end Hondas are called in the US) have put the hard word on Honda bosses saying that they too want a flagship car like the NSX to stave off the aggressive Hyundai onslaught, which is killing it over there.
Honda has at least five potential engines including direct injection turbos such as the 660cc, 1.0-litre, 2.0-litre, 2.4-litre and 3.5-litre V6. Our bet is for the turbocharged 2.4 also fitted to CR-Vs.
Honda has decided to recoup much of the development costs by sharing parts across sports cars.
So while the wheelbase and track will be unique to each vehicle, they will share some major components including drivetrains. And with a midengined-AWD combination due in 2015, the new mini-NSX looks set to recover some of the company’s lost sports car prowess with sharp lines, great handling and a price tag of between $50,000 and $60,000.
Taste and tease: Artist’s impression ofhow the Honda might look with extravagant S2000 lines