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Ford GT vs Honda NSX: FIGHT!

  1. So, here we are in the aftermath of the first supercar supernova of 2015. At the Detroit Motor Show, Honda finally, finally showed us the production version of the long-awaited NSX hybrid supercar, set to appear by the end of the year.

    Not to be outdone at its home show however, Ford pulled a bit of a blinder too; to much surprise, it rolled out the brand new GT supercar, an evolution of Jeremy’s favourite blue-collar supercar from the last decade, and a car that can trace its bloodline all the way back to those lovely GT40s from the 1960s.

    So, two brand new supercars jostling in the circa-600bhp playground, both scheduled to land by early 2016. And both, you’ll have to admit, look bloody amazing.

    They are however, two very different ways of going about the whole supercar business. In the red corner, we have a complex, petrol-electric hybrid with processing power greater than Top Gear’s collective knowhow is able to comprehend. In the blue corner? Um, a big blue Ford with a powerful turbocharged engine and lots of aero.

    No doubt both will square up against each other for real next year, but how does the fight pan out on paper? TG rounds up everything you need to know about both supercars here.

    Seconds out, round one…

    Pictures: Manufacturer

  2. Powertrain: Honda NSX

    Like the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918, the new NSX is a hybrid, and it’s quite a complicated setup. At its heart sits a twin-turbocharged V6, most likely a 3.5-litre, powering the rear wheels. And any relation to the upcoming Honda unit for McLaren’s 2015 Formula One car is purely coincidental, we’re told. Sure, Honda.

    Then there are three electric motors; one each on the front wheels, and another mounted at the back to fill in the torque gap during the spool phase for the turbochargers.

    This is all harnessed - somehow - by a nine-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. So it’s not rear- or front- wheel drive, but rather ‘Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive’, according to Honda.

    Total power? Somewhere very north of 550bhp.

  3. Powertrain: Ford GT

    Ford has also opted for a race-derived, big-hearted 3.5-litre V6 engine, based on the architecture of Ford’s IMSA Daytona Prototype endurance racer. We’re promised a wide power band and “impressive time-to-torque” characteristics.

    There are two turbochargers, an all-new port/direct fuel-injection setup for better engine response, a low friction roller-finger-follower valvetrain (woohoo!) and a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox sending everything to the rear wheels.

    Total power? Somewhere around the 600bhp mark. Game on.

  4. Chassis: Honda NSX

    Honda has made it clear that everything - engine, motors, battery pack - have all been ‘optimised’ to keep the vehicle’s mass low and centred.

    There’s fully independent, all-aluminium front and rear suspension, six-piston front and four-piston rear brake calipers with carbon-ceramic discs, and many modes that adjust the engine, motor, transmission and chassis response - it ranges in hardness from Quiet (electric only), Sport, Sport+ and Track. Even the engine’s sound level can be adjusted.

    As a final cherry, Honda has built in a launch mode into the new NSX, just like the Nissan GT-R. With all that grip and power, you’d better hold on tight…

  5. Chassis: Ford GT

    Ford has opted to use carbon fibre for the “ultra-stiff’ chassis components, and has gone for a torsion bar and pushrod suspension setup, with an adjustable ride height. There are 20in wheels hiding carbon ceramic brake discs at all four corners, too.

    And like the NSX, we’re told the Ford GT will be offered with different driving modes.

  6. Body/Aero: Honda NSX

    Where the first NSX was built purely from aluminium, this second generation NSX uses a space frame design constructed of aluminium, high-strength steel and ‘other advanced materials’. The floor is carbon fibre - to take up ‘bending and torsional forces’, and the body panels are built using a combination of aluminium and sheet moulding composite.

    As for that body - now in its final, production-ready guise - we’re told everything has been carefully positioned for total air-flow management for downforce and systems cooling. Using Honda’s wind tunnel in Ohio, this production version boasts new bonnet and wing vents, modified side air intakes (to collect air for the engine) and an ‘optimised’ rear spoiler to provide rear downforce.

    It measures up at 4.4m long, 1.9m wide and just 1.2m high - all marginal differences from the concept.

  7. Body/Aero: Ford GT

    Ford is promising one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any production car. A big stake, but it’ll do it via lots of lightweight elements; there’s a carbon fibre passenger cell, aluminium front and rear subframes and carbon fibre body panels.

    Aero’s been pushed to the fore, too: there’s aircraft inspiration about the GT’s teardrop shape, a curved windshield to reduce drag, and active aero components including a rear spoiler that deploys reactively, able to adjust height and pitch angle to match conditions.

  8. Interior: Honda NSX

    Honda tells us the new NSX has been developed ‘from the inside out’; as such, everything focuses on the driver.

    There’s a TFT display that changes according to the driving mode selected, a power button nestled in the centre console, a handcrafted leather dash panel, and super-thin A-pillars for better visibility.

  9. Interior: Ford GT

    Just two seats - naturally - accessed by upwards-opening doors and bolted directly onto the carbon fibre cell. These fixed seats are, um, fixed, and you adjust the pedal box and steering column to fit around you.

    Speaking of which, there are no stalks on the column, all functions being moved to the steering wheel - an ‘F1-style’ wheel - together with a digital configurable instrument cluster.

  10. Honda NSX vs Ford GT

    Neither manufacturer has confirmed any performance figures, but we’d wager good money on both having 0-62mph times a fraction over three seconds, and top speeds nudging 200mph (the Ferrari 458 - long the benchmark for this sector - posts 3.4sec and 202mph for those metrics).

    So, which one gets your vote? Keep your answers clean and coherent below, please.

    TopGear.com’s big fat guide to the 2015 Detroit Motor Show

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