The Honda NSX is both searingly quick when you want it to be, and comfortable and quiet when you don’t. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound as exciting as a wild-looking supercar should
The Honda NSX comes with a turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 that’s assisted by three electric motors – one driving the rear wheels and an extra two driving one front wheel each. Together, they produce 581hp – that’s enough to blast the NSX from 0-62mph in less than three seconds. That’s a smidge faster than the Audi R8 and more than a second faster than the hybrid BMW i8.
Helping the Honda NSX serve up such blistering acceleration is a slick nine-speed automatic gearbox. When you floor the throttle it changes gear lightening fast, yet it takes on a smoother, more relaxing nature when you’re cruising along.
With a light touch on the accelerator, the Honda NSX will return more than 25mpg. Do you really care, though? No, thought not…
Speaking of cruising, when you’ve finished having fun, the NSX will deliver impressive fuel economy – for a supercar, at least. Go easy on the accelerator and it’ll return around 26mpg compared to Honda’s claimed 28mpg.
Another thing the NSX brings to the supercar party that few alternatives can match is its silent low-speed running. Stick it in Quiet mode and the petrol engine shuts off altogether at under 30mph, engaging the electric motors instead. This setting lets you creep along almost silently for short distances. Accelerate hard, however, and the petrol engine fires up to lend a hand.
The Honda NSX comes with selectable driving modes that govern what it feels like to drive. Go for Quiet mode to make long motorway slogs as relaxing as possible – it muffles the sound of the 3.5-litre V6 and puts the adaptive suspension into its most comfortable setting. In this mode, the NSX soaks up bumps and potholes impressively well for a low-slung sports car and it’ll even cruise along at slow speeds using just the electric motors – ideal for creeping through sleepy suburbs in the wee hours.
Go for Sports or Sports+ mode and the NSX’s suspension becomes firmer and its engine louder. The steering feels heavier, too, and the pedals more responsive which makes it the perfect mode for enjoying an impromptu backroad blast.
Go one step further – into Track mode – and the Honda NSX turns into a serious performance machine. The electric motors and petrol engine deliver instant bursts of acceleration and the four-wheel-drive system is geared up to launch you from corner to corner as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, even in this hardcore track-focussed setting, it doesn’t feel quite as nimble as the Audi R8 (the Honda NSX’s complex hybrid system means it’s significantly heavier than the Audi) and the raspy V6 exhaust note can’t match the volume of the R8’s magnificent V10 engine.
Around town, however, the Honda claws back some points. You get a good view out thanks to the low dashboard, large side windows and thin door pillars, so it’s surprisingly easy to manoeuvre for such a sporty car. Rear visibility is pretty good, too, but if you want rear parking sensors they’re a rather expensive optional extra.
Unfortunately, you can’t get the NSX with automatic emergency braking, but then it’s a similar story with most high-performance supercars. You do get plenty of airbags as standard, however, to help keep you safe should the worst happen.