Honda's supercar


Honda NSX, 1991, front

ACCELERATING towards the horizon in a true supercar time-warp is not something you do every day.

But on a sunny winter afternoon in the heart of the Brecon Beacons in deepest Wales I stepped back to the 1990s to drive what I firmly believe to be the best Honda car ever made, the NSX.

The NSX was a true supercar built to rival the likes of Porsche and its rear mounted V6 3.0-litre engine driving the rear wheels via a race car-like five-speed manual gearbox produced enough oomph to make a Ferrari blush.

The NSX had an interesting background with origins dating back to 1984 and the HP-X concept which set out to prove that Honda could meet the V8 Ferrari's performance and offer reliability and a lower price.

The result was the first generation NSX, built from 1990 to 2005.

This car, famed for its good looks featured a cockpit inspired by the American F16 fighter jet and was the world's first mass-produced car to feature an all-aluminium body.

The 3.0-litre V6 engine too was all-aluminium and, like the prototype, was mounted behind the driver's seat, driving the rear wheels.

This engine featured Honda's variable valve timing and lift electronic control system, known as VTEC and gave the car a finely homed edge, bearing the capability to achieve 160mph where permissible and howl to 60mph in five and something seconds.

All very well but the NSX bore the fruits of its early development portfolio, being a very easy car to live with. Firstly it is a highly practical supercar, being able to negotiate reasonably sized speed bumps and debris in the road without clocking up a monumental repair bill.

Secondly it is remarkable easy to enter and exit, despite being so low slung. And it has proved itself to be very reliable.

But what this car really delivers is driver satisfaction by the lorryload.

The example I drove, owned by Honda proved itself docile in traffic and yet could scream like a banshee when the pedal hits the metal.

And that scream, echoing round a Welsh valley transported me back to when I drove one of the first examples in the UK which proved to me that this car was years ahead of its time.

Later cars had a 3.2-litre engine and a six-speed transmission which kept it up with advances from competitors.

In 1991 you would have had to find £55,000 to buy one but they still command good prices.

There is now a new NSX on the market so time will tell if it can eclipse that fine balance of driver appeal and practicality of the original.


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