NSX returns


Honda has revived the NSX nameplate for their latest ‘supercar’, though like the first NSX, there will be people who say this new NSX, a hybrid, does not have the gutsy performance that supercar drivers want.

The new NSX was shown at the North American International Auto Show this January, and like the first NSX uses aluminium in the chassis, suspension and body panels, to be a lightweight, and yet very strong.  This extensive use of aluminium has its drawbacks however.  One was raced in Australia in the Bathurst 1000 many years ago and had an accident in practice.  Despite there being racks to straighten the chassis, aluminium does not ‘work’ as well as steel, and they could not get the car completely straight.

New Honda NSX. New Honda NSX.

Confirmed for global production within three years, this new NSX retains the mid-engined layout and V6 engine power of the original – which debuted in 1990, but adds a version of Honda’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system.  The system will first be launched in 2013 in the MDX SUV, but the NSX gets the Sport Hybrid powertrain featuring an ‘electric’ version of the SH-AWD system.

A 230 kW 3.5 liter V6 combines with a 30 kW electric motor to drive the rear wheels through Honda’s first seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while two independent 20 kW plus motors are positioned at the front axle – each with adjustable torque control that delivers negative or positive torque to the front wheels during cornering.

Presenting the vehicle in Detroit, Honda Motor Co president and CEO Takanobu Ito – who led the development of the original NSX – said the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system made the new model “the ultimate expression of Acura’s (American Honda’s) idea to create synergy between man and machine.  Like the first NSX, we will again express high performance through engineering efficiency.”

CEO Takanobu Ito also said, “Since production of NSX ended in 2005, we have strived to create a worthy successor.  Yet many global changes have affected the automotive industry since that time.  Our vision is to achieve performance that is up to the challenge of racing.  So, while we created this NSX concept for our customers, you might see NSX on the racetrack as well.”

The new NSX is significantly wider, with a wider wheelbase, but is slightly shorter overall.  At this stage, no performance figures were available, but the new NSX will suffer from the same lack of aura as the old one.  When you open the doors of your garage, your next door neighbor doesn’t say, “Wow, you’ve got a Honda!”  (This of course is one reason why they sell in America as an Acura – similar to the Toyota/Lexus marketing.)