Future classic: Honda NSX

| 12 Feb 2019
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Honda NSX

Having big boots to fill has become a recurring theme on this page, and fewer cars carry a greater weight of expectation than the re-imagining of Soichiro Honda’s life’s work.

The original NSX was the firm’s first supercar, the crowning achievement of a man who started a fledgling company selling motorcycles in the late 1940s, and who by the end of his life had created a machine capable of taking on the world’s greatest performance cars.

Given its cult-hero predecessor’s Japanese roots, it’s perhaps surprising that the new NSX was designed in America to serve as luxury wing Acura’s halo model.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Honda NSX
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Honda NSX
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Honda NSX
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Honda NSX

Thankfully, it was under the supervision of a team that worked on the original project, and as a result the new car stays true to its ethos – down to the dark, subdued cabin and restrained exterior styling, which features none of the lairy spoilers or butterfly doors of its rivals, yet still manages to look hugely special.

The first car was known for its technological brilliance, and the latest is no different. This petrol/electric hybrid has a spaceframe chassis, carbonfibre floor and body panels of plastic and aluminium, all in the name of saving weight.

The subframes are also aluminium, and carry double-wishbone suspension with trick dampers that stiffen progressively across three modes: Sport, Sport+ and Track.

At its heart lies a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6, a nine-speed ’box and three electric motors – one paired with the engine, at 47bhp, plus a 36bhp unit driving each front wheel.

Their main purpose is not to turn the NSX into an eco-warrior, but to boost performance. Those up front add all-wheel-drive capability, and combine with the V6 to produce 476lb ft of torque – their instant delivery resulting in brutal acceleration.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Honda NSX

The new car weighs 400kg more than its predecessor, but its performance is remarkable: 60mph in 3.3 secs, the quarter-mile in 11.4 secs and 191mph flat-out.

Yet the new car’s greatest achievement is how easy it is to access that pace while using the car every day, just as its genesis was equally superb under the direction of Ayrton Senna’s twinkling penny loafers as it was being driven to the shops.

That first NSX was a pioneer, proving that Japanese technical nous could rival the character of the old masters, and that a supercar needn’t be flashy or fragile to be brilliant.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Honda NSX
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Honda NSX
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Honda NSX

The new car carries that same torch, and suffers some of the same problems. Namely, that £142k seems a lot of money for something without a Prancing Horse or a raging bull on the front.

As a result, this car is rare: Honda reckons there are just 30 examples on UK roads. And that suits us just fine.

There was a time when an early NSX could be bought for £15,000; if history repeats itself, we’ll be watching the classifieds very closely.

Images: Will Williams


FACTFILE

  • Engine 3493cc V6 hybrid; 573bhp @ 6500-7500rpm; 476lb ft @ 2-6000rpm
  • Transmission nine-speed auto, AWD
  • 0-60mph 3.3 secs
  • Top speed 191mph
  • Mpg 28.3
  • Price £142,355

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