25 years ago Honda gave the world the NSX, a car that set the term ‘the useable supercar’. In a time when fast cars were unruly, fearsome and very tricky to drive fast, the NSX was to set a supercar DNA that so many manufacturers now follow. Borro headed out to Portugal to discover if the new NSX can still mix it with the big boys.
Give your parents the keys to supercars such as the Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo, Ferrari 458 or McLaren 570S and they will soon be happily driving along the road. Modern supercars are very easy to drive and this is thanks to the original Honda NSX, a car that rewrote the rule book on how a supercar can drive. Here we are in Portugal for the launch of the all-new Honda NSX to see if it can again disrupt the competition.
From the outside, there is no denying the beautiful lines of the car, it is quite frankly stunning with a sexier form than the angular Audi R8 which most will compare it to. It feels very futuristic much like the original R8 did when it was launched.
Inside, the cabin is nice, but there is no escaping that this is a Honda and while there are some nice touches, ultimately some buttons feel a little below par in a car at this price point. The seats don’t height adjust, but the position is good and you are sitting so low it’s not a real problem. Just like the original, the scuttle is low and coupled with the super thin A-pillars the visibility is impressive. But the large dash area does give off bad reflections on sunny days that can be annoying when driving.
The car has four modes: Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track. After a long day at work when you just want to get home, quiet really does fit the bill. Sport is for regular road use and the setting the car automatically defaults to, Sport+ makes everything come alive and the engine sound suddenly gets very serious. Interestingly this mode uses the battery power more than Track mode and Track mode just tightens everything a bit more and allows you to play around more on track sliding the car out of corners. If you are feeling really confident, everything can be turned off.
I mentioned battery power. This car is a hybrid but not in a sense that you can drive 100 miles in EV mode. The small motors aid the way the car accelerates, slows and steers. On track the car sucks itself into corners and then will launch out of the apex just as quickly as any supercar can. The 3.5-liter V6 twin turbo is mounted very low as are the batteries so the center of gravity is impress and this really helps when pushing the car hard. The trade-off is weight, the NSX weighs 3,803lbs but unlike the Nissan GT-R you never feel that weight on track, direction changes and braking are effortless and communication is surprisingly good given all the trickery at work in this car.
The car is ferociously quick off the mark thanks to the small electric motors, it certainly feels like it is on the cusp of 60mph in 3 seconds although Honda is not too concerned about providing official figures. But the car will go on to a top speed of 191mph, plenty!
The ride is very impressive, both on a mixture of public roads and the race track, when you do finally find the grip limit, the car is very forgiving and drifts can be easily held as the car progressively breaks away.
At $167,700 the NSX is well into league of some serious competition. Priced more than a base Audi R8 but less than its old school rivals the Porsche 911 Turbo and Ferrari 488GTB the biggest problem will be brand image. Right now there is no natural stepping stone through the Honda range up to the NSX like there is for Audi owners. What Honda really needs is an impressive year in Formula 1 to reignite that engagement with the brand they used to have.
Honda has made a fantastic usable supercar and if the Honda badge doesn’t put you off, you will be rewarded with one of the finest sports cars on the market.
Tim Hutton has been involved in the automotive industry for 17 years, creating ideas and content for premium brands. When not writing about cars, you will find him driving them all around the world. Having learned to drive at seven in a racing car, gasoline is very much in his veins.
Image Credits © Honda 2016