NSX STICKS WITH ORIG­I­NAL BRIEF

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story -

and it pow­ers out and away at any speed.

The elec­tronic pack­age in­cludes the usual driv­ing modes. In Quiet, it runs at first only on elec­tric power then, through Sport, Sport+ and Track, the changes ob­vi­ously tweak the en­gine and gear­box, but also tune the mag­net­i­cal­ly­con­trolled dampers for the road sur­face and speed, and even lift the cabin noise — piped in from the en­gine bay right be­hind — by up to 25dB.

Out­ward vi­sion is great, the sports seats hug me, the steer­ing wheel is beau­ti­fully crafted and shaped for driv­ing, the air­con is Honda cool and ev­ery­thing seems great. Then I touch the nasty, cheap, plas­tic pad­dle-shifters and won­der how they got through the net. There are also some big re­flec­tions from the top of the dash­board but I love the slim­line wind­screen pil­lars — an ex­am­ple of im­pres­sive tech­nol­ogy, these show how other brands could get the bulk out of their cars and im­prove their safety.

ON THE ROAD

The ex­tra­or­di­nary com­fort is far more sur­pris­ing than the per­for­mance, which is re­ally just a ques­tion of tal­ented en­gi­neers with the right fo­cus and bud­get, and is re­flected in the air­con, the sus­pen­sion and the steer­ing wheel — which is flat on top and bot­tom but could do with some shift lights.

The body con­trol in the car is noth­ing short of bril­liant and it rides like a limou­sine on the worst Por­tuguese roads, while still al­low­ing me to have fun and at­tack the cor­ners with­out wor­ry­ing about run­ning wide or bounc­ing off a pot­hole. It even bet­ters my pre­vi­ous bench­mark for su­per­car sus­pen­sion, the McLaren 650.

The car is heavy at 1776kg but it never feels re­motely porky on the road. It stops su­perbly with just a faint groan as the front wheels har­vest en­ergy for the elec­tric mo­tors.

The sound is ter­rific in­side and out and the nine-speed trans­mis­sion works bril­liantly in all con­di­tions. I still hate the pad­dles but I re­alise af­ter an hour that I haven’t touched them once.

That’s a trib­ute to the driv­ing modes and yaw con­trol and car­bon-ce­ramic brakes, a com­bi­na­tion that means the car can do a bet­ter job than me on gear se­lec­tion, so Honda could eas­ily rip them out.

I’m also mas­sively un­der­whelmed by the horn, which is well short of the trum­pet I ex­pect, but oth­er­wise have lit­tle to com­plain about. The boot, only one, is be­hind the en­gine be­cause the whole nose is loaded with elec­tric and cool­ing gear. It seems small at first but will han­dle golf clubs in true Ja­panese style and also carry-on bags for two.

The NSX is an epic car and when the first cars ar­rive here in Novem­ber, own­ers will have some­thing to cel­e­brate.

But it’s still only a Honda and that will be — with the $420,000 price tag — the big­gest hur­dle. Fer­rari does not make a $14,990 Jazz and some peo­ple will in­stantly dis­miss the NSX, even though it’s lit­tle short of a LaFer­rari or McLaren P1 or Porsche 918 — each of them hy­bridised for max­i­mum per­for­mance.

It’s less than half the price, and with a right-side steer­ing wheel that means it can be driven on the road in Aus­tralia.

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