HONDA NSX (NC1)
A brilliantly engineered – and rarely seen – tech pioneer
AS THE SUCCESSOR TO HONDA’S GAME-CHANGING ’90s supercar of the same name, the 2016 NSX received a mixed reception upon its launch. Rather than bringing the original NSX recipe up to date, the new offering added turbochargers and hybrid assistance to the mix, ingredients that many believed went against the purist principles of the earlier models.
Before its arrival, however, the reborn NSX had already been through numerous revisions behind closed doors, with initial plans beginning once the NA2 version had gone off sale way back in 2005. You may have seen grainy trackside Youtube videos of a V10-powered, front-engined NSX prototype being tested in 2008, but this concept was ditched not long after amidst the global financial crisis, with Honda scrapping all non-essential projects. When new CEO Takanobu Ito took the helm in 2009, he sought an NSX that was ‘clever, with a focus on dynamic development’. That car would be the mid-engined, hybrid-powered NC1.
Honda’s engineers settled on a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 assisted by a trio of electric motors – two on the front axle and one between the engine and transmission – enough for a combined 573bhp and 476lb ft of torque. While the ‘holy trinity’ of Ferrari Laferrari, Mclaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder had brought hybrid assistance into the spotlight for hypercars a few years prior, it was all but unheard of in the more attainable supercar sector at the time, making the NSX a curious and unique machine.
Although it can operate in silent, full-electric mode, the hybrid assistance is primarily for torque fill. The result is acceleration to rival that of the very quickest supercars, drive sent to all four wheels for a 2.9sec 0-62mph sprint. Despite being a first-generation hybrid supercar, the NC1 – much like the original NA1 and NA2 in their heyday – is exceptionally well refined, perhaps slightly to its detriment. Compared with competitors such as the Mclaren 540C and Porsche 911 Turbo S the NSX does lack some character. The steering is quick and precise but doesn’t provide an awful lot of feedback, and the powertrain is not the most musical, either. However, the expert integration of the V6 and e-motors along with the car’s engaging dynamics make it a worthy consideration – one that could be a future classic, too.
While not particularly useful for those looking for a used bargain, values have stayed relatively steady since production came to an end in 2022. The low take-up for the model no doubt helps – just 2908 were built in total, with 150 of those allocated to the UK, making it considerably rarer than most of its European rivals. Consequently there are usually just a handful to be found in the classifieds at any given time.
Prices began at £149,950 from the factory, but today they range from £100,000 to £130,000. And whatever you pay you’ll almost certainly be getting a very lightly used example: mileages in the 20,000s or even 10,000s are uncommon, while many have barely gone beyond delivery figures. For this very reason it’s hard to gauge the true reliability of the NC1 just yet, but as long as you’re aware of battery degradation over time, its Honda engineering should stand you in good stead.