Honda NSX

Honda NSX, front
Honda NSX, front
Honda NSX, side
Honda NSX, side
Honda NSX, rear
Honda NSX, rear
Honda NSX, side
Honda NSX, interior

WHEN the original Honda NSX arrived 27 years ago, it was a genuine game-changer - a fully-fledged, mid-engined supercar with an outstanding mix of performance, reliability and everyday usability which changed the way the world viewed the Japanese motor industry.

The bodywork and ‘cab forward' driver positioning was developed after studying the cockpit of an F-16 fighter jet, while the long tail enhanced high speed stability.

The NSX was also designed to showcase Honda technologies, many derived from its F1 programme with added input from F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna, who convinced Honda to stiffen the NSX more than intended and helped set up the rear suspension geometry to provide uncompromising traction.

A true rival to the Ferrari 348, it really was something rather special and, to this day, remains an exhilarating drive.

Now, there's the new Honda NSX hybrid supercar, in a way, the first of its kind. Yes, there's the Porsche 918 Spyder with its combination of a petrol engine, electric motors and four-wheel drive but second-hand, it would probably cost you well over a million pounds, while the Honda is just a fraction of that.

There's also the BMW i8 but it's not really in the same ‘supercar' league.

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.

The main, direct drive electric motor sits between the engine and the transmission while the Twin Motor Unit (TMU) sits on the front axle and effectively provides all-wheel drive for the Honda.

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 seamlessly 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. Naturally, there's a track mode, but that really is for the track. Sport+ is really all you'll ever need.

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.

Whether at high or low speeds, the NSX is incredibly easy to drive, perhaps too easy. 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, more importantly, 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, despite the mid-engined layout, there's a 110-litre cargo space behind the cabin.

There's a handcrafted leather dash panel, Alcantara across the top of the driver's gauge binnacle, with additional Alcantara trimming for the centre console and glovebox.

Right in front of the driver is an eight-inch TFT display, with all the digitally displayed dials and gauges you could want depending on the driving mode chosen. Other racy touches include the almost obligatory flat-bottomed steering wheel with large metal-effect paddles.

The centre console contains the seven-inch touchscreen with Honda's easy-to-use Connect system, dual-zone climate control, electronic gear selector, and a relatively roomy storage box that contains a USB port to synchronise your smartphone to the touchscreen.

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.

FAST FACTS

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

C02 emissions: 228g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/62,000 miles

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