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Behold: the new Honda NSX
The Honda NSX is back. And just like the
original this is not just a sledgehammer supercar clone, but a fascinating,
intriguing contemporary take on the genre.
OK, this is only a concept, unveiled at the
Detroit Motor Show – and for geographical reasons it’s also called an Acura.
The real thing is three years off. That time gap allows the engineers to be
maddeningly non-specific about some of the details (like, er power, or indeed
engine size). But the designers are promising it’ll look very much like this.
Good. It’s sharp, dramatic without being
flashy, and refreshingly compact – actually shorter than the original. It’s
edgier than the original too, as the passing years dictate. But it’s still got
a few sly nods to its father, like the rear lights, and the overall
Under the skin, there’s a high-revving V6
engine, mid-mounted. That feeds a double-clutch transmission. So far, so
predictable. But there’s more: it’s a hybrid.
Calm down at the back. It’s not the sort of
hybrid that’ll throw a wet blanket over your inner tyre-melter. As Honda’s boss
Takanobu Ito, says: “The NSX will enhance dynamic driving abilities without
getting in the way.” And he should know. He was an important engineer on the
first NSX, and he’s driven the decision to make a new one.
So there are two little electric motors at the
front of the car, one for each wheel. That means independent drive to each
wheel, and the ability to tighten or loosen the car’s cornering line for very
effective torque vectoring.
Meanwhile another electric motor is embedded in the gearbox to enhance
the V6’s power.
It’ll be able to reclaim braking energy like
any hybrid, so it’ll be efficient on fuel. But it’ll also have extra
performance and supernatural cornering. In fact Ito said they’ll very likely
make a racing version too.
Weight distribution should be good, with the
engine and battery pack both mid-mounted. And in line with NSX principles of old
(it was the first aluminium sports car), they promise overall weight will be
Of course the new NSX enters a very different
world than the one the first one entered in 1990. Back then Ferraris were
dramatic but a bit flaky – unreliable, heavy to drive and a bit evil-handling.
The NSX made the Italians pull their socks up and build cars you could rely on,
and use daily. So the new car has got some very hard competition.
But one virtue of the original car is even
more relevant today: it was light and efficient, and concentrated on power to
weight rather than absolute power. That’s what the new one will do too, albeit
by different and rather 21st century means.