Honda Acura NSX
October 26, 2017 -- Honda’s Acura NSX combines internal combustion and electric thrust for blistering off-the-line starts, a top speed of over 300km/h and a choice of drive modes, from Quiet to Sport, Sport-Plus and Track.
You’ve just banked the Euromillions lottery cheque and you’re off to buy a supercar. Excitement mounts as you relish the choices.
It could be a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, a McLaren, an Aston Martin or maybe a Porsche. There are top of the range Mercedes, BMWs and Audis. But a Honda? That surely is never going to fit the bill, with its image of worthy good value but boring.
That’s the mountain the Honda NSX has to climb. It has to be at least as beautiful as the competition, ridiculously fast, and also show the traditional competition a thing or two about technology.
To be fair to Honda it is no stranger to this game. In 1989 its original NSX shook up the supercar world with its dramatic styling, performance and innovative engineering. The latest iteration builds on this reputation. It has fabulously beautiful styling and an engine that puts it at the forefront of engineering, not least because the specification includes the buzzword “electric”.
The NSX’s V six-cylinder twin-turbocharged 3.5 litre petrol engine produces 500hp, but its three electric motors boost this to 580hp. The 0-60mph (0-100km/h) sprint comes up in a 3.3 second blur. The petrol engine is located in the middle, just behind the driver’s head. There’s an electric motor attached to the engine. There are electric motors driving the two front wheels for four-wheel drive.
So this is a petrol-electric hybrid. The electric motors help the traditional engine to provide more power while at the upper edges of performance, but also limit fuel consumption in everyday use. In Europe, Honda claims the NSX will get the equivalent of 28.2mpg (10.0 l/100km).
The electric mode gives you quiet starting and silent takeoffs. You can opt for a more ear-shattering reaction when you press the start button to remind the neighbours of your good fortune. After pressing the starter there’s a button between you and the passenger to engage drive. You can select various modes, including “track” or Launch Mode Control.
As you quietly drive along country roads you can hear the technology murmuring behind you as the 9-speed gearbox does its business. The ride is harsh, but that’s no surprise. The cockpit-like cabin wraps around you. It’s a civilised cinch to drive down to the shops.
But find an empty road and floor the accelerator and its personality changes and the murmur becomes a startling, high pitched roar as the car leaps forward. As illegal speeds appear very quickly, you will be searching for a track to find out how fast it really is. The handling is amazingly precise and the stick-like glue road-holding more go-cart than car.
The NSX certainly fulfils all the criteria you would require for a supercar, and the hybrid angle surely gives it a lead in technology. As you do the rounds of Ferrari, Lamborghini etc, with 180,000 smackers burning a hole in your back pocket, you would have to have a strong personality to resist their traditional charms. But if you’ve got unlimited resources, why not buy one of each? Problem solved. (Story: Neil Winton)