New Honda NSX aims for Ferrari 458
More details on upcoming Honda supercar as TG.com speaks to NSX chief
Why do we claim this? The head of NSX development, Ted Klaus, was maddeningly tight-lipped about the upcoming supercar's performance goals - refusing to divulge any specific numbers - but he did tell TG.com that the development team spent a week near Los Angeles testing the car's likely rivals.
And those cars were: the Ferrari 458 Italia, Audi's R8, the Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 and Corvette Z06. "We drove them on the road, around the canyons and on the racetrack. We need to understand the current state of the sportscar market and what constitutes ‘driving pleasure'," he says.
‘We have targets, but I can't say that now." When pressed about a possible 400bhp+, he quickly quips back, "remember I told you, we have our sights set on the Ferrari 458 Italia. The customer typically looks up to Ferrari - but the price is definitely up, so we're trying to make that performance accessible."
So then, seeing as the 458 Italia produces some 572bhp, the GT-R some 542bhp, the C6 Corvette Z06 just over 500bhp and the R8 blasting off from 420bhp, that puts the next NSX in 500bhp territory. Of course, this is an estimate, and in fact, not the performance goal Ted and his team are aiming for. No, they don't care about 0-62mph times and horsepower; for them, the juice is in the overall lap time around a given circuit, and the size of the driver's smile. Oh yes, there are echoes of the same noises we heard when Toyota began work on the GT86...
"For me personally, those outcomes [performance times] are outcomes from making a wonderful car. Lap times bring together all these elements. If the lap time difference between an expert drive and a less expert driver are very close together, and the sense of enjoyment and accessibility of the car is good, I say this gets closer to the NSX target." Ted seems like a proper car guy, and this is encouraging news.
"Don't forget, the original NSX didn't look so good on numbers, but then everyone drove the car and it became a new interpretation of the sportscar," he adds.
Right now, the development car - doing enough testing mileage to warrant maintenance - is being tested by internal Honda drivers, but once everything is a little more concrete, and the platform technology has been firmly established, they'll involve ‘outside drivers'. Remember, Ayrton Senna helped develop the original NSX, so we can expect more from the world of Formula One to step into the new supercar. "We're not ready to announce that yet," he says, "but we're testing in a special Honda track in the north of Japan that recreates the Nordschleife".
So how far off are we? The finished product is scheduled for 2015 - and everything is on target for that date - with first deliveries headed for North America, then Europe, then Japan and China. There'll be a convertible version soon after - "we'd be foolish to develop NSX without an open-top version" - and it'll be more efficient than the new 911. Price wise, Ted confirmed he's aiming "certainly within the range of the R8", a range that starts from just under £93k for the base V8, to £123k for the V10 S, Again, expect a tag of around £100k.
"Initially we will not seek to meet all the demand, because there is value in making the product rare," he tells TG. "We are planning much less volume than the Porsche 911, perhaps more in line with the Audi R8". Again, there's the Audi R8 that pops up - more so when we talk about interior. "When you sit inside the new NSX, you will think the Audi R8 doesn't have this same level of quality. The key is the craftsmanship of the interior." And what about that simply jaw-dropping exterior? "There won't be any more concept versions, just the actual version, and that car will look even better on the outside, believe me," he says with a smile.
We can't wait. Full details and spec will be announced in the future, but for now, what do you make of this ‘spirit' of the new NSX Ted's creating? Let us know below...