Those of us who remember when the original Honda NSX, as it was then and will be in Europe and the rest of the world, was born can still recall the amazement that it caused; here was a car with stupendous performance, fine-tuned with the help of none other than the late Ayrton Senna, available at a price that looked seriously competitive. That it set new standards for technology in supercars is undoubted; it genuinely did raise the bar. The NSX also made the traditions supercar makers such as Ferrari and Lamborghini take a long, hard look at build quality; only Porsche, long known for its attention to detail, came out unscathed. Now, the sheets have come of its replacement, the 2015 Acura NSX, and the reaction it has garnered is no less astonishing than that afforded the original.
Innovation in Engineering
Parent company Honda has been very keen to stress that the Acura NSX is, like its forebear, suitably technically advanced, and the powertrain itself is one like no other on Earth. Displayed in bare bones form at the recent Geneva show, the layout brought astonished looks from all, as it utilises a concept that is truly breathtaking. As with most new supercars the new NSX will be a hybrid; however, it is a hybrid with a major difference.
A mid-mounted V6 will power the rear wheels, and the expertise that Honda has in producing super-reliable and powerful motors is undoubted, while the front wheels will be drive by two electric motors; one for each wheel! Described as ‘Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive’, this is a unique and intriguing system that promises much in the way of excitement.
Switchable Four-Wheel Drive
The beauty of having the front wheels independently powered lies in the way Honda has thought about the potential of the Acura NSX; using complex electrical systems the front motors are monitored allowing for braking force an powering torque to be distributed between the two wheels. This is a technological tour-de-force that is unrepeated elsewhere in the motoring world, although others have tried similar techniques. The car will therefore, allegedly, possess quite sensational handling qualities that should put it up with the very best of its rivals.
We’re not forgetting, however, that it’s not just how a car drives that gives it prowess, it’s also how it looks; whereas the original NXS was either, according to your taste, quite sensational or rather bland, the smooth, purposeful lines of the new model drew gasps of admiration when it was first shown to the public; it is not best described as pretty – few supercars are – but it certainly looks the part and is cleverly conceived.
Power and Grace
One of the benefits of using a hybrid combination is that it allows for different modes of running; the Acura NSX can, like some of its rivals, run on the electric front wheels only for limited periods, and on the petrol engine alone too. The driver will be able to choose when to use all power in one go, at which point it should present a quite considerable amount of thrust. Given the show model as a guide, the NSX is a more compact design than its main rivals – presumably the McLaren MP4-12C and Ferrari 458 – and is also likely to be pitched at a price that is attractive: we should see it go head to head with those in the $110,000 bracket, so a little more than a Porsche 911 yet considerably less than much more exotic machinery. It is, though, a hike in division over the original NSX, yet the advances it brings to the table should easily eclipse that.
Who Will Buy It?
Honda/Acura has a strong following both in the USA and elsewhere, as well as quite a high-profile motor racing programme. Indeed, the NSX should hit the market sometime in 2015, at a time when Honda resumes its legendary Formula One partnership as an engine supplier to McLaren. It is not to be overlooked that F1 cars now use turbocharged V6 engines. Positioning a high performance sports car with a legendary name and such a strong history in direct contention with the Porsche 911, for example, may seem like a risky strategy, but you can expect the Acura NSX to sell in strong numbers, especially to those who were equally enticed by the original.