THERE might be better ways to celebrate a birthday than driving the Honda NSX but I can’t think of one.
I’m still cooling down from hot laps and rampaging road time with a car that’s a brilliant engineering achievement, super quick but also super composed, beautifully made and with the supercar credentials to take the fight to Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and the Audi R8.
Now, if only Honda Australia had managed to do better than a $420,000 bottom — the wrong word entirely — line.
So far, only four people have paid deposits for an NSX in Australia. That number will definitely grow but some are already questioning whether the car is just a toy for tech heads, an Apple-style automotive icon for dotcom millionaires in the US.
Those same questions came to mind on first sighting the born-again NSX, alongside the original Japanese supercar from the early 1990s. By the time I’d finished driving and was blowing out the candle on my birthday cake I was convinced.
The worst thing about the NSX is its Honda badge. Not far ahead of the price ...
It means the NSX is a “challenger” to the supercar establishment, even though its mechanical package puts it into the hypercar class.
It combines a 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo and three electric motors — one on the crankshaft to eliminate turbo lag and one turning each front wheel for all-wheel drive acceleration and cornering balance — that make it stonkingly quick.
Total outputs are 427kW/ 646Nm, the top speed is 308km/h and the 0-100km/h sprint takes just 2.9 seconds.
The car has a twin-clutch gearbox and a surprisingly hefty 1776kg to move.
But the impressive thing is the integration — all the components communicate with each other, meaning the NSX is not only super-fast but also super-easy to drive. There is even a rear camera for parking.
The price is high for Australia, only fractionally lower than the starting price for a Ferrari 488 or Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 and more than double a Nissan GT-R. However, it comes fully loaded with carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fibre exterior pack including the roof and carbon fibre interior kit that sits well alongside the leather-trimmed dash and seats.
Honda was so committed to getting the NSX right that it binned the original comeback plan and car, which had a frontmounted V10, and went again with the petrol-electric package. Even rival designers admit is a head-turner that’s heavily influenced by the F22 fighter jet, retaining continuity with the F16-inspired original.
ON THE TRACK
Not surprisingly, Honda provides the opening NSX experience in the relative safety of a racetrack, Estoril in Portugal, where the car will easily twist the speedometer past 220km/h in a couple of places.
The really stunning thing about the car is its ability to attack the track. You can brake late and hard for every corner, staying on the brakes up close to the apex, knowing the car is ready to pivot and go. And go and go.
It is not the slightest bit nervous, there is only the tiniest front-end squirm at the limit