Decades ago supercars had a rather simple formula; bonkers styling, insanely impractical and absolutely unreliable. In 1989, at the Chicago Auto Show, Honda revealed their idea of a supercar and the world took notice. The Legendary NSX was thus born.
It was Honda’s answer to the Ferrari and Porsche back then and it blew its rivals out of the water. Styled by Pininfarina, developed by the legend Ayrton Senna and built by Honda, it was a match made in heaven. It ticked all the right boxes stylish, fast, reliable and most important of them all affordable.
NSX was a fan favourite. Over its life cycle from 1990-2005 it sold in large numbers. Car enthusiasts around the world absolutely loved it and it’s hailed as one of automotive world’s greatest.
Fast-forward to 2016 and Honda finally revived the name, the all-new 2017 Honda/Acura NSX.
The brand new NSX had a troubled birth. In the earlier stages of its development it was supposed to have a V10 engine mounted in the front. Then as the world took an economic down turn, the whole idea was scrapped. When the project was back on, the engineers decided to give it a 3.5L V6 from the Acura TLX sedan with 2 additional motors in the front for steering. But due to the ever increasing performance benchmarks by the rivals, the R&D team decided to turbo charge it. The engineers found it almost impossible to cool the turbos on a transversely mounted engine. Hence the whole car had to be redone, this time, the engine mounted longitudinally. All this meant Honda spent an awful lot of money on it before it even took shape.
Installed exclusively on the NSX, the new twin turbo 3.5L V6 makes 500 horsepower and a motor mounted at the back to fill the gaps when the turbos spool up. The result is a combined power output of 573bhp and 569 LB-ft of torque.
Then there are two other motors on the front, one for each wheel combined with Honda’s super geeky levels of software witchcraft, this car has the most complex torque vectoring system in the world.
Hence on paper, the new NSX sounds like a sweet deal. More complicated tech than the current generation hybrid hyper cars (Laferrari, P1 and 918) at a fraction of the price.
Take it to the real world and we have a problem.
Days have changed. Supercars from Ferrari, McLaren or Porsches are no more the unreliable, impractical nightmare they used to be, in fact they are as reliable as any mainstream cars. So the only places the NSX could redeem itself is pricing and performance.
The NSX is a bargain considering the tech it brings on the table, but unfortunately at over £143,000 (U.K) it wasn’t the cut price supercar most people were expecting.
Let’s get the best alternatives in line:
1. Porsche 911 turbo:
At just over £126,000 (U.K) the all new face lifted (991) 911 turbo not only under cuts the NSX in price, but absolutely destroys it in a drag race. And don’t think things would be different on the track due to the Honda’s clever hybrid trickery, the 911 laps the Cadwell Park at 1:40.22, the NSX takes a whole 5 seconds more.
2. Nissan GTR:
The Nissan GTR starts at just about £78,000 (U.K) and upwards and even the poverty spec GTR with 530bhp would match the NSX’s 0-60mph time and would lap the Laguna Seca in 1:36.35 while the NSX does it in 1:36.36. And this is particularly impressive considering the fact that the R35 GTR is now almost 10 years old.
And did I tell you that both the 911 and GTR comes in 4 seat configuration while the NSX is 2. The GTR even has a massive 315L boot capacity that could make your neighbour’s Honda accord jealous.
If you’re one of them who has the argument that neither the Porsche nor the GTR has the styling or the supercar flamboyance the NSX has, then you have yet another alternative, the astonishingly good McLaren 570s. It would maul the NSX on the drag strip and the race track while looking like Miranda Kerr of the car world.
Don’t get me wrong, the NSX is a properly good car and it does tick all the right boxes like its grandfather. It’s just that the opponents have grown a bit too strong. Its troubled reincarnation meant keeping the cost low was impossible and that, to me, is its greatest drawback. Not just the price, the awfully long development phase of 10 years meant the rivals blew past the performance estimations Honda had while developing the car. It has nothing to offer that would convince you to pay more for a Honda than a Porsche or McLaren.
11 long years, that’s how much petrolheads around the world had to wait for the return of the NSX but in the end it wasn’t worth the wait, it was just “a hero bit too late.”