Torque of town
WHEN the original Honda NSX arrived 27 years ago, it was a genuine gamechanger – a fullyfledged, mid-engined supercar with an outstanding mix of performance, reliability and everyday usability which changed the way the world viewed the Japanese motor industry.
Now, there’s the new Honda NSX hybrid supercar which, in a way, is the first of its kind. Yes, there’s the Porsche 918 Spyder with its combination of a petrol engine, electric motors and fourwheel drive but, second-hand, it would probably cost you well over £1 million, while the Honda is just a fraction of that.
With its aggressive nose, classic low and wide stance, sharply contoured surfaces and large air vents ahead of the flared rear wheelarches, the new NSX certainly looks every inch a supercar so it’s satisfying to report that it drives like one too.
It’s powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and three electric motors, which together produce 573bhp and a stonking 646NM of torque. There are no official 0-62mph figures from Honda but all that power, mated to a smooth nine-speed dual clutch transmission means the NSX is staggeringly quick.
Via a rotary dial on the console you can pick from Sport, Sport+ and Track modes, each adding differing weight to the steering throttle response and stiffness to the magnetic ride dampers. There’s also a Quiet mode which enables electric-only driving at lower speeds for short durations and keeps the neighbours happy on early morning starts.
Sport is basically the everyday driving mode where the engine switches between electric and petrol mode. And it really is imperceptibly seamless. Turn the dashboard-mounted dial to Sport+ and you get a more urgent feel and a more visceral soundtrack from the NSX’s beating heart. Now, you’re ready to rock and roll. The dampers stiffen but the ride remains comfortable.
Despite all that power, the NSX is incredibly capable and composed on the road. At speed, corners come and go with confident grace. And, because of the electric motors on the front axle which provide torque vectoring to the front wheels, you can power away without fear.
This is aided by Honda’s new and catchily named Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), which gives a lightning-quick response to driver inputs. The mid-engined layout and low centre of gravity – best in class – gives near perfect balance and, of course, every element of the NSX’s exterior body has been carefully fashioned to produce tremendous grip alongside the perfect amount of cooling.
The huge amount of technology that has gone into creating this modern marvel and keeping it glued to the road has somehow taken away some of the joy you should feel driving it. Arguably, its predecessor will put a bigger smile on your face despite being not as quick or powerful.
The new NSX is also not particularly economical fuel wise considering the hybrid powertrain.
That said, its interior is much improved. Naturally, the driver sits low down but there’s exceptional forward visibility. You may, however, prefer to pay £1,700 to add the optional satnav, CD player and front and rear parking sensors.
The sports seats are adjustable, heated and there’s plenty of head and legroom for all but the very tallest. And there’s a 110-litre cargo space.
The cabin is a nice place to be and feels well put together though the metal-effect plastic on the centre console and paddle shifts is unbecoming of a £150,000 supercar. I wasn’t particularly keen on the flush-fitting exterior door handles either.
That said, the new NSX is an astounding modern supercar which remains true to the ideals of its iconic predecessor.
TEST DRIVE HONDA NSX
Model: Honda NSX Price: £149,950 Mechanical: 573bhp, 3,493cc, 6cyl petrol engine and three electric motors driving four wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox Max speed: 191mph 0-62mph: n/a Combined mpg: 28.2 Insurance group: 50 CO2 emissions: 228g/km BIK rating: 37% Warranty: 3yrs/62,000 miles