Hyper­car, su­per-easy

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story - PAUL GOVER CHIEF REPORTER

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

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