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Honda NSX: Retro Road Test

Honda NSX: Retro Road Test

Honda NSX: Retro Road Test

This is Honda’s take on the Ferrari 328 (and later, the Ferrari 348). The Japanese firm reckoned it could do what the Italians were doing, but better – making a more reliable, practical and faster car for a lower price tag.

Read another Retro Road Test on Motoring Research

The result was the NSX, launched at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show and on sale in the UK early in 1991. It featured an ultra-stiff, lightweight, all-aluminium chassis, while F1 champion Ayrton Senna was on hand to assist with development.

What are its rivals?

What are its rivals?

As well as being a Japanese alternative to the Ferrari 348, the NSX also took on the ever-popular Porsche 911. It sold in much smaller numbers than the Porsche (and even the Ferrari), so there are fewer in the classifieds today.

Which engine does it use?

What engine does it use?

Initially, the Honda NSX was powered by a 3.0-litre quad-cam 24-valve VTEC V6. However, later models, such as the one tested here, saw displacement increased to 3.2 litres. When this change was made in 1997, power was boosted to 280hp and a new six-speed manual gearbox was introduced. The 3.2-litre NSX could hit 62mph in 5.7 seconds and was good for 168mph.

The lesser 3.0-litre was still available, but only with the oft-lambasted four-speed automatic gearbox.

What’s it like to drive?

What’s it like to drive?

To someone more used to the easy driveability (and blandness) of modern supercars, the NSX is incredible. It feels like a supercar should – how we’d want a supercar to drive if we could go back to a time when manufacturers weren’t pandering to ever-more-stringent emissions and safety regulations.

The engine is out of this world. It wails like a nymphomaniac on acid. You hit the redline at 8,000rpm, but before you get to that point the VTEC variable valve timing kicks in and you surge down the road in a much more satisfying way than a modern turbo engine could manage.

The steering, with its variable power assistance, is incredibly precise. It’s such a satisfying car to drive fast, with every inch of grip being felt through your fingers. You can’t forget that this is a mid-engined supercar, which will no doubt bite if you go beyond its (and your) limits, but it’s also surprisingly friendly.

Reliability and running costs

Reliability and running costs

This was the NSX’s trump card when it was new – and it’s still the case today. It should be fairly bulletproof, certainly by supercar standards, while servicing shouldn’t break the bank either. You might want to budget for rear tyres, however – they tend to only last for around 6,000 miles or so, and cost around £150 each.

Officially, Honda quotes NSX fuel economy as 22.0mpg. But enjoy the VTEC and you’ll be visiting petrol stations just as often as you would in a Ferrari.

Could I drive it every day?

Could I drive it every day?

While you’d be mad to run a Ferrari of this era as a daily driver, the Honda NSX is a slightly more sensible proposition. The interior, while on the bland side, is hard-wearing, and it feels like you could cover longer journeys in comfort.

But – and we often trot out this caveat in the Retro Road Test – it would be a shame to use an NSX every day. It didn’t sell in huge numbers when it was new (people weren’t prepared to stump up the high asking price for a Honda) and it’s even rarer today. Even the latest, facelift models (such as the one tested here) are now more than 12 years old – and difficult to find in the classifieds. If you buy one, perhaps also get a Jazz for daily duties – the NSX will feel even more special at weekends.

How much should I pay?

How much should I pay?

A budget of £40,000 will get you a good choice of NSXs – making it a performance bargain in our eyes. Yes, there are faster, newer supercars out there, but there’s very little on the market that feels so special for the money. Push your budget for a good one and it’ll be a sound investment.

What should I look out for?

What should I look out for?

While the NSX is fairly robust, consumables can be costly, so try to find one that’s had work already done. Cambelts need to be replaced every eight years or 72,000 miles at a cost of around £2,000, while a new clutch can set you back £1,500.

It’s worth looking for signs of crash damage. Check panel gaps and, of course, the more history a car has, the better.

Should I buy one?

Should I buy one?

Yes. We enjoyed the late-facelift model tested here, and its rarity means it could make for a good investment. That said, many find older examples, with their pop-up headlights, more appealing. Go for whichever floats your boat – but we would advise avoiding the automatic gearbox. The manual is really slick and much more desirable.

With prices starting at around £30,000, the NSX strikes us as a bit of a steal. It feels so much more special than its price tag suggests, and it should be a fairly easy car to run, too. Buy a good one and you’re not going to lose money on it.

Pub fact

Pub fact

Senna’s involvement with the NSX came about when a team of engineers were out testing their new supercar at Suzuka in Japan. The F1 champion was there with McLaren, and was encouraged to take the Honda out for a few laps. He did, and despite Honda making the NSX as stiff as rivals, Senna reported that it was too soft.

Engineers went back to the drawing board, made the NSX 50% stiffer and tweaked the chassis to make it better to drive – something they’d continue to do throughout the car’s life.

Honda Civic Type R – 2009

Honda Civic Type R is this summer’s hottest used car

Honda Civic Type R – 2009The most heroic used car you should be looking at this Bank Holiday weekend is the Honda Civic Type R, says Glass’s – and it’s probably better secondhand than it ever was when new, adds the automotive data provider.

The second generation Civic Type R, sold between 2006-2011, “was never quite in the front rank of hot hatches (when new) but it makes a really strong buy used”, said Glass’s used car editor Rob Donaldson.

“The dramatic looks have aged well, performance is on a par with rivals and Honda build quality means that it should rack up high mileages with few difficulties.”

In naming the Honda Civic Type R its used car hero for August, Glass’s reckons the Brit-built Japanese car’s outstanding value, quality and ability help nudge it ahead of the Volkswagen Golf GTI on the used market.

It’s also cheaper than the Golf GTI secondhand: Glass’s says the best buy, a 2009 car in Championship White, can be bought with 75,000 miles on the clock for £6,000 – that’s £1,000 less than a comparable Golf GTI.

All Civic Type R are well equipped, adds Donaldson, “but if you can find one, the GT model adds a few worthwhile extras like climate and cruise control, and folding mirrors.”

The only downside to its hot hatch hot weather hero choice for August is an unyielding ride, but the otherwise excellent driving experience, purposeful styling and a good looking Recaro interior all make up for it.

Glass’s Honda Civic Type R hero worship comes as Honda of America confirms there’ll be an all-new Civic Type R in 2017 – just two years after the current champ went on sale.

Honda Civic Type R – 2009

Honda Civic Type R is this summer's hottest used car

Honda Civic Type R – 2009The most heroic used car you should be looking at this Bank Holiday weekend is the Honda Civic Type R, says Glass’s – and it’s probably better secondhand than it ever was when new, adds the automotive data provider.

The second generation Civic Type R, sold between 2006-2011, “was never quite in the front rank of hot hatches (when new) but it makes a really strong buy used”, said Glass’s used car editor Rob Donaldson.

“The dramatic looks have aged well, performance is on a par with rivals and Honda build quality means that it should rack up high mileages with few difficulties.”

In naming the Honda Civic Type R its used car hero for August, Glass’s reckons the Brit-built Japanese car’s outstanding value, quality and ability help nudge it ahead of the Volkswagen Golf GTI on the used market.

It’s also cheaper than the Golf GTI secondhand: Glass’s says the best buy, a 2009 car in Championship White, can be bought with 75,000 miles on the clock for £6,000 – that’s £1,000 less than a comparable Golf GTI.

All Civic Type R are well equipped, adds Donaldson, “but if you can find one, the GT model adds a few worthwhile extras like climate and cruise control, and folding mirrors.”

The only downside to its hot hatch hot weather hero choice for August is an unyielding ride, but the otherwise excellent driving experience, purposeful styling and a good looking Recaro interior all make up for it.

Glass’s Honda Civic Type R hero worship comes as Honda of America confirms there’ll be an all-new Civic Type R in 2017 – just two years after the current champ went on sale.

2015 Honda Civic Type-R

New Honda Civic Type-R confirmed for 2017

2015 Honda Civic Type-RThe all-new Honda Civic Type-R will launch in 2017, Honda has confirmed – less than a year after the roll-out of the new UK-built 10th-generation Civic hatchback.

It means that, unlike with today’s car, hot hatch fans won’t have to wait years for a new high-performance Civic to arrive.

The quick launch of the new Civic Type-R means it is likely to go on sale little more than two years after the launch of the current 306hp turbo VTEC model. This would bolster the collectability of the latest model.

According to Honda North America, the new Civic Type-R is likely to be just as thrilling as the existing ninth-generation model: it’s described the car as “radical” in confirming it will launch in the U.S. in 2017.

Honda North America’s expose of model plans for the new Civic Type-R also underline the fact it will be derived from the Euro-spec five-door hatchback, so once again be built in the UK.

The production version of the new Honda Civic will make its pubic debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show at the end of September.

What will the new Civic Type R be like?

2017 Honda Civic

The new 10th generation Civic is built upon an all-new platform that, unlike the recent few Civics, returns to fully independent rear suspension. This will delight Honda purists who believe the firm’s cars should always come with the most well-engineered suspension possible.

An independent rear is certain to enhance the hot new Type-R as well.

The current cars has some trick engineering to overcome the compromises of a solid rear axle: standard adaptive dampers up the skill levels and allowed the engineers to offset the suspension’s more restricted pool of abilities. But it would undoubtedly be a better car with more finesse if it had a fully independent rear end.

A stiffer architecture will be a further boon, as will the fact Honda engineers seemingly are developing the Type-R from day one, rather than adapting an existing platform to create one.

It’s likely Honda will use a version of the current 2.0-litre VTEC turbo engine though, rather than develop an all-new one. This motor was created fresh for the current Type-R and it’s thus not necessary to make another all-new one.

Indeed, perhaps this is why the engine has so much power in today’s Type-R: Honda was future-proofing it with the all-new 2017 Civic Type-R in mind…

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback

New 2017 Honda Civic hatchback: official

2017 Honda Civic HatchbackThe new Honda Civic hatchback has been officially revealed by Honda North America after earlier being scooped by the firm setting sail across the Atlantic.

The Swindon, UK-built five-door is the first hatchback to be sold in the U.S. and it seems the firm is getting rather excited about it – rushing out details of the new car ahead of its European colleagues who developed and will build the car.

The official studio images confirm the new Civic hatchback will be little-changed from the striking concept car revealed at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show; Honda’s even showing the new car in a similar matt grey paint finish (sadly sans the lime green detailing of the concept).

Honda North America’s anticipation stems from the fact this 10th generation Civic, in saloon and Coupe guise, is the reigning 2016 North American Car of the Year; it’s expected the new five-door hatch will be similarly impressive.

To be launched in autumn 2017 – hence the boat-loads of new Civics now headed across the Atlantic – Honda North America has confirmed further details about the new Civic hatch.

It’s to be offered with just a single engine initially: a new 1.5-litre direct injection turbo, producing either 174hp or 180hp – the extra 6hp comes on Sport models, which have a high-flow centre-exit exhaust (as featured on the Geneva Motor Show concept car).

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback

Pair it either with a six-speed manual or a so-called “sporty” CVT: Honda says the latter will deliver class-leading fuel economy. European cars will also get an upgraded version of Honda’s 1.6-litre i-DTEC turbodiesel.

Following criticism of the down-specced suspension on the current model, the new Civic hatch returns to independent suspension front and rear, with fancy liquid-filled bushings. The bodyshell is stiffer, to further aid ride and handling, and the electric power steering is promisingly described as “sport-tuned” with variable ratios.

It will be big, too: class-leading volume includes the best rear legroom and the biggest boot in its sector. Those in the back will even enjoy the option of heated rear seats.

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback

Honda’s current dreary infotainment system will get a big lift with a new Honda Display Audio system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The new Civic hatch has been jointly developed by Honda in Europe and Japan, says Honda North America: the Swindon, UK plant will be the only one in the world producing it. And Honda U.S. enthusiasts can’t wait for it to arrive.

“The Civic Hatch has been a staple for Honda in Europe, but has long been the forbidden fruit for Honda fans in the U.S.,” said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda Division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

“Now, we’re bringing this sporty, stylish and versatile Civic Hatchback to North America, as we amp up the performance of our incredible Civic lineup with each new Civic model.”

More news on the European-spec new Civic hatch is expected in coming weeks: it will make its motor show debut at Paris next month.

New Honda Civic (2017 U.S.)

New Honda Civic hatchback revealed in U.S. export surpise

New Honda Civic (2017 U.S.)Honda has revealed the production-spec new Civic hatchback in a surprise official scoop as the first Swindon, UK-built export-spec five-doors set sail for the United States.

Looking all but identical to the concept model revealed at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the production Civic hatchback boasts the same bold lines and edgy, eye-catching graphics: it seems the concept was closer to production-spec than we first realised.

The distinctive centre-exit exhausts of the concept are missing – these may come on the mooted new Civic Type-R version – but the distinctive wrap-around tail lights and bold rear bumper design remain.

New Honda Civic (2017 U.S.)

The bulges in the front and rear wheelarches and greater form in the side panels will, along with the more rakish profile, contrast strongly with the current blocky and upright design – this new Civic is likely to find much more favour with customers.

Civics are being exported from Swindon now in readiness for the 10th generation models’ autumn launch because Britain is now the global production hub for the new five-door Civic. A £200 million investment in Swindon secured the plant’s future to build the all-new model.

It’s described as one of Honda’s most comprehensive new model developments ever.

The European version of the new Civic has still to be officially revealed, however: it’s expected to be uncovered in September ahead of the new car’s 2016 Paris Motor Show debut. But it’s unlikely to differ greatly from the U.S. version revealed here though – that’s the whole point of producing a single design at a single location for global markets.

New Honda Civic (2017 U.S.)

Philip Webb, head of cars at Honda UK, said: “Our factory in Swindon will export the model to other key markets around Europe and the rest of the world.”

And UK sales of the new UK-built car? “Production of the hatchback for the UK market will commence towards the end of 2016, with sales beginning in the first quarter of 2017.”

Honda creates ‘Sonic Civic’... just because

Honda creates ‘Sonic Civic’… just because

Honda creates ‘Sonic Civic’... just because

Sonic the Hedgehog is 25 years old this year (yes, really) – so Honda has created a little birthday present for the spiny blue mammal by creating it a one-off Civic.

Unveiled during San Diego’s Comic-Con event, the Sonic Civic is based on a US-spec turbocharged Civic sedan, and features vinyl wrap showing the anthropomorphic hedgehog crouching over the rear wheel. Shame it’s front-wheel drive…

Talking of wheels, the front and rear ones are different colours. The red rears represent Sonic’s infamous shoes, while the gold fronts mimic the gold rings he chases in the game.

We haven’t seen any pics of the interior, but Honda tells us it features bespoke front and rear seats with Katzkin Blue Leather and custom Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary embroidered logos.

Luggage space is hampered, as the boot is filled with a very 1990s sound system – consisting of two subwoofers, a pair of amps and a 32-inch TV for gamers to play retro Sonic games.

“What better way to showcase the incredibly sporty performance capability of the 10th generation Civic than by pairing it with gaming industry’s ultimate athlete – Sonic the Hedgehog,” said Honda’s US PR manager, James Jenkins.

“As the fan-favourite game and character celebrates his 25th anniversary on the scene, we hope that all Sonic fans – those who remember playing years ago and those who continue playing today – rejoice in his all-new ride, as much as we enjoyed creating it.”

We’re not sure Sonic would have chosen a Honda Civic as his ride, but you’ve got to admit – it looks kinda cool.

Honda Fireblade

Buy a Honda Fireblade for £99 a month

Honda FirebladeHonda is offering its high-performance Fireblade Black Edition superbike on finance for £99 a month, in a three-year, 5.9% APR PCP deal.

The offer is for the 16MY Black Edition special and is open to those who can find a £2,614 deposit for the £12,199 superbike, which Honda dealers will bolster with a £1,000 contribution.

> More advice on Motoring Research

The 36 monthly payments are based on the rider covering 4,000 miles a year (it’s 7p a mile extra if you do more), with a final payment of £6,329.

The Black Edition was revealed at the opening round of the British Superbike Championship earlier this year, and now Honda BSB rider Jason O’Halloran has scored a victory on his CBR1000RR Fireblade at Snetterton, Honda reckons it’s a good time to roll out the special offer deal for the summer.

Black Edition extras include a 27mm higher smoked screen, Gilles brake lever and Galfer front wavy discs. It also gets a colour-matched seat cowl and carbon fibre hugger. Not bad for £99 a month, particularly when compared to what £99 a month will buy you in the car world.

Basic Suzuki Swift or a monster-performance Honda Fireblade? You decide…

Honda NSX

Honda NSX costs £137,950 and is sold out for two years

Honda NSX 2017Honda has revealed the new NSX will cost £137,950 in the UK, with deliveries starting in the autumn – but eager buyers keen to get into the Porsche 911-challenging super sports car face a long wait: the UK order bank is currently full for TWO YEARS.

Even Honda BTCC driver and three-time champion Matt Neal hasn’t so far been able to jump the queue, despite offering to pay list price for the new 581hp Honda!

UK prices were revealed at the European media launch of the new NSX, where Honda UK MD Philip Crossman told us interest in the car has been extraordinary. “It’s a real halo car for the brand. Both us at Honda UK and our dealers are looking forward to doing lots with this car to boost our profile.”

Built in Ohio, United States, the new Honda NSX has been four years in development and arrives 25 years after the original model went on sale in the UK. With clever F1-like drive systems, it is hoped the hybrid sports car will do for Honda what the R8 did for Audi.

Although Honda has confirmed the price of the new NSX, other information is preliminary ahead of final European homologation being completed. Honda expects the new NSX to officially average more than 28mpg though, with current CO2 listed as 228g/km – easily escaping the top-rate tax band.

Its ability to run on electric power alone may also offer benefits in the city, should future regulations be introduced to tackle air pollution.

Check out Motoring Research’s first drive of the new Honda NSX

Honda NSX 2016

2016 Honda NSX review: the world’s most high-tech sports car driven at last

Honda NSX 2016Japanese car companies owned the 1980s. They produced great cars that dominated major markets like the United States. Why stop there, though? For Toyota, it was the Lexus LS400 that socked it to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. For Honda, it was the NSX that, frankly, made contemporary Ferrari products look old-fashioned and slightly embarrassing. A brilliant clean-sheet design famously approved by Ayrton Senna, it was the sports car that made supercars blush. Now, a quarter-century on, Honda’s revived the NSX name to do the same again.

Honda NSX 2016

What’s more of the same?

NSX means New Sports eXperience. Launched in 1989, the original was a landmark. Ferraris today wouldn’t be so good if it weren’t for the NSX. McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray was a die-hard fan and admits the NSX was the benchmark when designing McLaren’s icon. What made it so good? Being a fast, dynamic and dramatic supercar – but also offering unheard-of levels of quality, usability and ergonomic intelligence. The supercar world is defined by the NSX: what came before it, and what came after it.

Honda NSX 2016

How has this second-generation NSX project come together?

The project was again born in Japan, but this time Honda’s US team have led development, based in Ohio. Ted Klaus has been the man in charge for the project’s four-year development. He’s an active racing driver, a chassis dynamics guru and the most enthusiastic, approachable steely-focused leader you can imagine. He’s the new Mr NSX – and tells us the first Mr NSX said to him “I hope you struggle the way I struggled with the original NSX”. You sense he has; you also sense he’s happy with the solutions his team came up with…

What do we have here then?

Coming four years after the concept NSX, the production version is different in every way, but to all intents the same. A mid-engined two-seater, it has a healthy 581hp – more than any Porsche 911 on sale, more than any McLaren Sports Series model – and like the original in its day, is going in big on tech. It has two turbos, three electric motors and four-wheel drive. So while the £137,950 list price is a lot for a Honda, it’s not a lot for what’s almost certainly the most technologically advanced sports car there’s ever been.

Honda NSX 2016

Describe to me how it looks

It looks taut, tight, very much function-first. Like the Audi R8, it’s a sports car with supercar looks. The complex aero design dominates, with the front end dominated by grilles and air intakes and the floating rear C-pillar clothing more air intakes, air filters and air channels. It’s a 3D design, with plenty of depth and carefully-formed detail. Visually, it’s as complex as F1 used to be in the late-noughties. It’s very different to the original NSX but, it seems, no less appealing. On the Portuguese launch roads, it was as much of a traffic-stopper as any new Ferrari.

Honda NSX 2016

Very low, very wide: it’s a proper supercar

It’s 1.2 metres tall and looks painted to the road: its stance oozes attitude. When you get in, the sill looks like it’s rubbing on the tarmac (and seats are mounted well inboard). This all means the centre of mass is as low as the Senna-pleasing original. But it’s also wide, much more so than the original. It’s nearly two metres across and way wider still when you factor in the mammoth door mirrors. Question is, will this width count against it on the road?

So, it has a V6 and THREE electric motors. How does that all work?

The drivetrain is fiendishly complicated. Called Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (or Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, for a bit less of a mouthful), In the middle is the twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6, rated at 507hp. A 48hp electric motor is directly mounted to it (it works a bit like the original Honda Insight), with twin 37hp motors on the front axle. The middle motor is there to boost the torque holes in the power delivery (and minimise turbo lag) and the front motors both give instant acceleration (it’s these that actually launch the NSX off the line during acceleration) and also, via torque vectoring, help stabilize the car when fast-lapping.

Honda NSX 2016

That’s epic complication

It is, but Honda doesn’t want it to feel so. The development goal was to make it the most intuitive hybrid powertrain in the supercar segment. Honda says it first got the base car right before taking it further with the electric tech. The engineers say they’ve tried to take all the artificiality out and use the positives of electric motors – their clean, powerful and instantaneous response – to enhance the driving experience. Certainly on the track, you don’t feel it’s a disconnected e-driver and, as we soon discovered, aspects the sense of positive, planted, surging drive you feel from the front e-motors when you do get it right is glorious.

Honda NSX 2016

What’s this about it being an EV?

The NSX is a hybrid, one that offers low-speed electric-only running. It’s bizarre, pulling away as a silent EV, but cool. City users will love the clean-breathing vibes coming their way. It’s considerate with the engine on, too. In Quiet mode (the most relaxed of the four modes, you can also choose Sport, Sport + and Track), exhaust valves are closed most of the time to keep noise levels socially acceptable. It doesn’t even have a starter motor whirr. Just like the Insight, the Direct Drive Motor is used to start the engine, so it just ‘comes on’ when you press the starter.

Go on, pub bragging rights: what’s the 0-62mph time?

Honda seems reluctant to quote an exact 0-62mph time, oddly. It will only say sub-3.0 seconds and that it’s ‘faster’ than a Porsche 911 Turbo. As that does 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds in ultimate Turbo S form, it seems Honda’s betting on 2.8 seconds or better. “It’s down to the magazines to get their own times,” says Klaus. Come back to us later this summer when Honda UK gets its cars (and make do for now with a 191mph top speed, plus that McLaren-beating power figure)…

Honda NSX 2016

‘It’s not about numbers, it’s about response time,’ says Honda

Honda’s reluctance to quote a 0-62mph time contrasts with its happiness to talk about the sub-100m/s response time of its electric motors. Good for corners, where eye-blink responses are so crucial. This tells you plenty about what Honda’s tried to achieve here – create an ultra-dynamics sports car that uses its tech to enhance and genuinely electrify the driving experience, allowing it to offer an experience no other rival without all this gadgetry can match.

Honda NSX 2016

Come on then: first responses after driving it?

We drove it on track first: straight into the deep end (we later learnt this was intentional, part of Honda’s plan to show off how user-friendly it is). Of course, it’s wildly fast, with the ultra-responsive, gloriously vocal and free-revving engine delivering monster pulling power. But more than that, it’s the confidence you have in the NSX even when pressing on hard on an unfamiliar track with the chief engineer sat next to you (yes, really). I was up to speed within a lap, and beaming by the second from the glorious dynamic display the NSX was putting on. At the end, I was convinced it was a serious sports car, even if I wasn’t quite sure how it had done it…

That complexity again?

It certainly takes time to get under the skin of the new NSX. On track, you learn to brake late, get the nose planted onto the apex and then go hard on the power – the feeling of front-end bite is tremendous, as if the entire front axle has become energised, with the immediate torque steering the rear without ever threatening to spin you like a top. All the mid-engined excitement, none of the drama – once you learn how to use the systems to your advantage, that is.

Is it a similar story on the road?

Honda NSX 2016

Road driving quickly reveals the NSX’s excellent agility, high levels of grip and reactivity, its easily-epic speed and the unique lag-reduced acceleration of its mid-mounted engine. It’s straightforward to steer it quickly and neatly on unfamiliar roads and thus easy to trust it, willingly press on harder and discover what a friendly high performance sports car it is. Again, mid-corner bite from the lithe front end is terrific (thank you, torque vectoring), giving confidence to plant the throttle early and then feel that hint of stabilizing, heroic power-oversteer. What other supercars make you feel like so much of a driving god within two hours? Just avoid Sport + mode on the road. Sure, this gives you max thrust from the electric motors, keeping the batteries permanently charged ready to dish out F1-like energy boosts, but it also makes the ride too firm, steering too solid and, critically, the accelerator far too sensitive. Configurable modes are coming, hints Honda…

Crunch time: with all that electronic stuff, does it feel artificial?

The NSX doesn’t feel artificial to this writer. It uses technology to great effect, helping it do things it wouldn’t otherwise be able to do: the driver senses this through glorious, heroic dynamics rather than simply being passengers while an ultra-clever robot car does its thing. Saying that, you have to be mindful of this technology – it will only do its magic if you learn how to exploit its e-drive front end, its instant-response drivetrain, its ultra-grippy chassis. But to me, this isn’t artificial, because it’s giving an experience that’s impossible without this tech, and giving so much driver satisfaction when you get it right. Gripe about artificiality with the initial steering and brake pedal response, not the NSX’s dynamics.

And the engine?

Honda NSX 2016

Despite being a hybrid, the V6 engine dominates. It’s the right sort of vocal, with a throaty throb with hints of Porsche 911 thrum to it. There’s a lot of turbo whistle and wastegate chatter (with a cool overlay of electric whine when you lift off) but the yowl of the engine is ever-present, particularly when howling to its 7,500rpm redline. It’s not quite traditional Honda-ultra-high revs, but the engine-centre-stage focus certainly is (it’s all ‘real’ noise too, courtesy of exhaust flaps and sound-channeling pipework into the cabin). It also enhances the hybrid-drive mode: in town, it’s often a surprise to have the engine noise silenced and electric drive take over – not something antisocial sports cars generally do.

What else surprised you?

Honda’s nine-speed dual clutch transmission impresses, proving sufficiently intuitive not to frustrate in auto mode and great fun in paddleshift mode – it’s huge fun going up and down the ultra-close ratios. Brembo brakes are clean and progressive when used hard (well, the optional ceramics I drove on launch were, anyway). I loved the deeply sculpted steering wheel and thought the seats great; they’re heavily bolstered lower down but more open around your shoulders, further enhancing the broad interior’s airy feel. Speaking of which…

What’s the interior like?

Honda NSX 2016

It’s intentionally simple inside. Ultra-clear ergonomics, simple buttons and knobs, no plethora of buttons. To adjust the different drive modes, simply turn a big round knob on the dash. The most complex bit is the fully-digital dial pack, which has all sorts of gauges for revs, battery charge, oil temperature and umpteen other things I haven’t quite worked out. It’s a strict two-seater, but it’s perhaps the most user-friendly two-seater on sale.

A user-friendly supercar? Well I’ll be

What made the original NSX so great was its focus on ergonomics (Ferrari and Porsche didn’t know the word existed in the 1980s). This continues that. Forward visibility is superb: the dash is low, windscreen deep and the complex-to-make A-pillars are super-thin for panorama vision (in contrast to rear visibility: the over-shoulder view is awful). Some supercars are about intimidating the driver. Not this. Honda even claims the boot is bigger than it seems: sitting behind the engine, the 100-litre space is extra-wide so will take a full-size golf bag despite having just a third of the capacity of a Ford Fiesta.

Does that user-friendliness extend to the drive?

Here’s the really clever bit about the NSX: it’s sublimely easy to drive, a refined cruiser, ultra-settled and planted at speed, has a smooth ride and, in non-Sport + mode, the most waft-like yet controlled damping of any sports car. Instantaneous engine response gives it diesel-like drivability, the wide cabin is comfortable and high-quality and the agility you feel on twisting roads also offers stress-reducing benefits when navigating unfamiliar dual carriageways, schlepping up the motorway or heading into metropolitan cut ‘n thrust. A 911 has long held claim to be the real-world supercar: the latest NSX is here to steal its crown.

2016 Honda NSX: verdict

Honda NSX 2016

The new Honda NSX is a very ‘Honda’ type of supercar and thus an authentic successor to the mighty original. It’s as much of a technological step on as the 1989 car, but this hybrid/electric/computers-laden tech is used to add to the driving dynamics, not take anything away from the driving experience. Certainly, it does things most other more ‘analogue’ sports cars can’t do and is a unique slam-dunk because of this. If the purity of a McLaren 570S or familiarity of a 911 isn’t for you, the space-age NSX may well be.

For

  • Astonishing technological achievement
  • Driver-enhancing dynamic thrills
  • Supercar styling with super-ergonomic interior

Against

  • It takes a lot of brainpower to learn all its systems and how to get the best from it
  • McLaren won’t be worried by the on-centre steering feel
  • Here’s hoping owners put the time in to learn what an epic car the NSX may well be

2016 Honda NSX: specifications

Price: £137,950

Engine: 3.5-litre V6 with Direct Drive Motor and Twin Motor Unit

Gearbox: Nine-speed dual clutch auto

Power: 581hp (system total)

Torque: 476lb ft (system total)

(V6 engine power/torque: 507hp/405lb-ft

Direct Drive Motor power/torque: 48hp/108lb-ft

Twin Motor Unit power/torque: 37+37hp/53+53lb ft)

0-62mph: TBC

Top speed: 191mph

Fuel economy: 28.2mpg

CO2 emissions: 228g/km

Length/width/height: 4497/1939/1204mm

Kerb weight: 1763kg