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Honda NSX

Friday 15 July 2016

Honda NSX

The new NSX seems to be at the cutting edge of automotive technology, but is it a great supercar?

An awful lot. The NSX has been in the works for some time, but has only recently been pushed through. Underneath, it’s a high-tech car. Mated to a twin-turbo V6 engine are not one but three electric motors. They provide almost instantaneous acceleration on a par with the Porsche 911 and Audi R8.

Not only that, but there’s all manner of scoops and vents that make the NSX as stable at high speeds as possible. Add in four separate driving modes (we’ll come to those later) and you’ve got a package that seems, on the face of it at least, to be at the very cutting edge of sports car technology.

Looks & Image

The NSX is an out-and-out sports car, and appears to have the looks to match. Ducts and air intakes certainly make it stand out from the crowd, while heavy creases on both the bonnet and boot break up the car’s panels. There are also LED lights at the front and rear, and a full clamshell boot that opens to reveal a decent-sized boot and that all-important engine.

Inside, there are two deeply padded bucket seats that sit down low in the car. Thanks to the low-slung seating position, it’s a comfortable place to be. The steering wheel has plenty of adjustment which makes finding the correct driving position even easier. There’s a large central screen that displays all of the car’s infotainment, while a TFT screen behind the wheel allows the driver to view fuel levels, battery charge and speed.

Dominating the centre of the car is a large rotary dial for selecting driving modes, located just above the push-button gear selector. Although good looking, it is in the position that most will reach to adjust the stereo’s volume. Given that driving intent is at the core of the NSX, placing this selector elsewhere might have made a little more sense.

Space & Practicality

Of course, a two-seater sports car is never going to be a strong choice when it comes to practicality. That said, the boot is large enough for a set of golf clubs or two medium-sized weekend bags, but that’s about it. In the main cabin, a glovebox compartment can store around four small water bottles – but there aren’t any cupholders to put them in once opened. 

On the plus side, both doors are wide and allow easy entry to the cabin. The seats are also supremely comfortable. However, in terms of load-lugging the NSX isn’t great – but then it’s not designed to do that. All the areas important for driving – seating position, steering wheel adjustment and gear shift paddle weights – are spot-on, which is everything you want in a high-performance car.

Behind the Wheel

Here’s where the NSX really shines. Firstly, there are four driving modes to choose from: Quiet, Sports, Sports+ and Track. The first of those four modes is just that – quiet. That means that when pulling away, the car stays in
all-electric mode with the petrol engine chirping into play soon after. It remains quiet even then, thanks to some clever shielding of the exhaust note and a system that can cut down to just two of the four exhaust pipes available.

Jump to Sport, and the car begins to tighten up. Throttle response is improved and the entire car firms up. Sport+ is an extension of that, while Track puts the NSX into full attack mode and allows the traction control a certain degree of slip, meaning that it will happily go into an oversteer situation should it arise.

In every mode, the NSX rides impressively. On track, it manages to be firm and controllable, while out on the road it deals well with bumps and potholes without ever losing its agility through the corners.

The NSX is also impressively fast, with the turbochargers and electric motors providing plenty of usable torque. This makes the NSX a relaxing car to drive quickly. Thanks to the car’s powertrain, it produces 500bhp – enough to reach a top speed of 191mph.

The steering, meanwhile, has a good weight to it and allows precise adjustments. Thanks to a steering rack that changes with speed, it is confidence-inspiring when travelling quickly, avoiding the sometimes frantic steering that comes with some sports cars.

Pedal weights are spot-on too, with the brake – which was linked to optional carbon ceramic discs in our test car – neither too sharp nor too spongy. The nine-speed dual-clutch automatic also shifts seamlessly in full auto mode, but is impressively responsive in its manual setting. The car will hang on to gears right through to the top of the rev range should you want it to, and the paddle shifters have a good weight to them when you do eventually want to shift.

A launch control system is also fitted to the NSX, and it’s one of the simplest versions we’ve seen. While in Track mode, simply hold the brake with one foot while flooring the accelerator with the other. Lift the brake, and it’ll rocket forward without the merest hint of tyre squeal. Honda engineers haven’t yet given out official figures, but they hint that the sprint from 0-62mph can be reached in under three seconds. It certainly feels that quick.

Value for Money

At £130,000 without options, the NSX certainly isn’t cheap. That said, it’s no more or less expensive than rivals such as the Audi R8 V10 and Porsche 911 Turbo. However, for that money, you do get quite an array of technology, from the trio of electric motors to the torque vectoring drive system.

It’s also an accomplished car for both road and track, able to conquer the weekly trip to the shops just as easily as a lap of the Nurburgring. The NSX is a true daily driver, albeit one with supreme performance.

There’s no doubting that the NSX carries a considerable price tag. But given how well it drives, as well as how it looks, it certainly seems worth the money. 

Who would buy one ?

Someone who wants to get the most from their car every day. Like mentioned previously, this is a car that will be adept at the day-to-day tasks that ordinary cars undertake, so long as you don’t need to carry more than one passenger. 

Some elements may put off buyers of traditionally premium products – some materials in the cabin aren’t quite as good as those offered by others – but for the most part, the NSX is an exciting and interesting package.

The NSX has a theoretical range of around 400 miles, which also makes it an excellent long-distance cruiser. If you’re looking to be able to travel a long way, then go for a spirited drive at the end of the journey, the NSX is the car for you.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Honda NSX
Engine: Twin-turbocharged V6 with three electric motors, together producing 500bhp and 406lb/ft of torque
Transmission: 9-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 2.9secs, 500bhp, 191mph top speed
Economy: 21mpg (claimed)
Emissions: 290g/km (claimed)

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