£120,000 Price range
20 - 30 MPG
The new Honda NSX has been nearly ten years in the making and follows in the footsteps of the legendary old model. It rewrote the supercar rulebook by combining lightening performance with everyday usability.
The new car aims to build on that theme by offering a variety of customisable settings and a hybrid drivetrain, but it faces tough competition from the likes of the Audi R8, McLaren 570S and Porsche 911 Turbo.
As with any supercar performance is key and the NSX gets a 575hp 3.5-litre V6 that is boosted not only by two turbochargers, but also three electric motors. As a result the 0-60mph dash takes a barely believable 2.9 seconds on the way to a heady top speed of 191mph.
Meanwhile, the hybrid drivetrain offers up several driving modes allowing the NSX to transform from quiet cruiser to full-blown racer at the touch of a button.
The NSX’s interior caries over the theme of functionality. Honda has worked hard to make the car easy to see out of and it comes with an intuitive infotainment system, with a dashboard layout that will be familiar to any current Honda owner. From the inside only the superbly supportive sports seats and small boot signal that this is no normal Honda.
Pictures here are of the Acura NSX – the Honda NSX’s Stateside sister.
The leather, carbon fibre and aluminium combine inside the new NSX to create a very modern and highly functional cockpit.
The infotainment system will be familiar to Honda CR-V owners and is very easy to use. Information about speed and revs is displayed on a TFT display in the middle of the instrument binnacle, while analogue dials provide info on the cars fuel level and engine temperature.
The NSX’s cabin is not trying to be exclusive or special like some of it’s rivals and instead focuses on feeling premium and having everyday usability. The problem is that the Audi R8 also uses the same interior philosophy and as a result has one of the most stylish and highly-functional dashboards out of any supercar.
Honda NSX passenger space
You sit very low inside the NSX, yet all-round visibility is quite good – better than in an Audi R8, if not quite as good as a Porsche 911. There are no back seats – instead you get a nice view of the engine bay through a thick pane of glass.
Honda NSX boot space
The nicest way to describe the NSX boot space is ‘poor’ – you won’t fit a set of golf clubs, as you could in the old model – and it also lacks the front load bay of the old car. At 113 litres in size it’s less than half the capacity of a Volkswagen Up’s boot.
Driving was the most important aspect of the old NSX – balance and lightness were the dominating adjectives used to describe how it drove. That’s something that has been lost in the new model, which is weighed down by large batteries and a complex four-wheel-drive system. As a result, it weighs more than 1,700kg – nearly 500kgs on top of the dainty old model and 200kgs more than the BMW i8.
It offers a range of things that the first NSX can’t, though, chiefly four different driving modes to choose from – Quiet, Sport, Sport Plus and Track. They’re selected via a rotary dial in the centre of the dash – the same as you get in the McLaren P1.
In quiet mode it uses only the electric motors at speeds of up to 40mph running, as you have probably guessed, in complete silence. After that the petrol engine kicks in, without the jerkiness that is characteristic in some hybrid supercar. All-electric range is not confirmed, but is expected to be around 1.5 miles – considerably less than the BMW i8’s 22-mile range.
Sport gives you livelier steering, perfect for town driving, but lightness that makes the car feel nervous and fidgety at high speeds. It’s the most accessible driving mode and is focused on urban driving, hence the over-light steering.
One step further is the Sport Plus mode that adds heavier steering and a rev counter that appears on the central TFT display. In this mode the NSX is very easy to drive fast, but the overall balance is towards understeer which to inexperienced drivers is great, but for some it may worsen the driving experience.
Track is the most aggressive driving mode of all and, as the name suggests, is only really usable on a race circuit. Such is the transformation that after a few laps on a race track the NSX will ruin its tyres. But, in terms of performance, it’s a match for all its pre mentioned rivals – with huge grip and breakneck acceleration out of corners. The optional carbon-ceramic brakes offer huge stopping power and won’t fade even after numerous laps of a race track.
However, in the pursuit of fast lap times, the NSX has lost a big part of what makes a supercar desirable – being fun to drive. Unlike some rivals big smoky slides are out of the question. The traction control system can be completely switched off but then, instead of giving you full control, the NSX becomes unruly to drive.
The new NSX is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine that’s aided by two turbochargers to produce around 500hp – sending power to the rear. Meanwhile, situated in both front wheels is a small electric motor. They combine to offer 72hp – essentially making the NSX all-wheel-drive. The third electric motor is found in the gearbox, where it boosts performance at low speeds and fills in the gaps while the turbo spools up to speed.
All the technology works together to provide 575hp, a top speed of 191mph and 0-60mph in just 2.9 seconds – faster than the McLaren 650s (which carries an £80,000 premium) and every Porsche 911 currently on sale. Yet the NSX can still return fuel economy of around 30mpg.
In a bid to improve the aural experience, Honda engineers have run a pipe from the engine intake to the interior to create a race-car sound, but in a world of screaming V10 Audis and whooshing McLarens, the NSX is just too quiet.
Easier to enjoy is the nine-speed DSG gearbox that is fast and matches the gears perfectly to the speed of the car. Drivers can change gear via the steering-wheel-mounted paddles, but the sheer amount of gears can get confusing.
The new NSX, just like its predecessor looks outgunned by it’s closest rivals, but as we’ve learned from the original, it takes time for people to appreciate a true masterpiece. The case may be similar with the new NSX – it doesn’t excel in any way at a glance, but give it some time and that balance and simplicity of the original car might start shining through.