Honda NSX Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Friday 8th December


What is it like to drive?

Fiendishly clever on paper, but actually quite simple in reality. In fact, supercars with nearly 600bhp get little easier to drive. Prod the gearbox into Drive and off you pop, with nary a care about all of electrification beneath you.

A drive mode dial in the middle defaults to Sport, which actually puts most of the car’s settings in their softest. Flick it left and the car goes into Quiet, a mode that uses electric power as much as possible and is great for trundling quietly through town spooking pedestrians who expect a car like this to make a complete racket.

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Flick the dial right and you’ll go into Sport+, which stiffens up the steering and suspension and keeps the engine active at all times, with the gearbox sticking to its lower ratios. Hold the dial all the way to the right and you’ll go into Race with the stability control deactivated.

In all modes it’s a composed car, with enough firmness to provide the sharp reactions you want, but a suppleness that ensures your teeth stay unrattled. Sport+ is what you want on a fun piece of road, though, and with full engine and electric power this is an outrageously quick car, with a relentless surge of speed as the electric motors fill the gap of any turbo lag from the V6. It could get you into just as much trouble as conventionally powered rivals.

While not quite as four-wheel-driven as an R8 or 911 Turbo, it’s still pretty surefooted, even in sodden conditions, and your confidence builds very, very quickly. It’s a supremely capable car that invites commitment but doesn’t shut its driver out. There could be more steering feel, but the oddly shaped wheel is supremely tactile. Crappy plastic paddleshifters aside.

Now, rather like the BMW i8 with which it shares thinking, the engine could sound better. Much better. When rivals use V8s and V10s, a gritty, slightly industrial-sounding V6 simply can’t hope to match them for drama.

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But the NSX’s six gets more interesting as the revs build and there’s real encouragement to hang on for the redline, while at lower speeds there’s turbo chuffs and motor whine to keep you occupied. The future won’t be as aurally pleasurable as the past, we know that. But it’ll have a pretty arresting soundtrack all of its own. And thanks to the gearbox’s nine speeds, you’ll cruise at a very relaxing 2,000rpm on the motorway.

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