Torque of town

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Steve Grant

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

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