Car Reviews Coffee Break

Car review: Honda NSX

There may be very few nameplates in the motoring world as evocative as the Honda NSX. Those three letters have long been synonymous with a supercar that upended expectations of a category of vehicles where it was previously assumed everyday usability couldn’t possibly be combined with nigh-on heart-stopping on-road performance.

In the real world, the closest that many of us actually got to clambering behind the wheel of the revered original NSX – which ceased production in 2005 – was in the Gran Turismo series of videogames, when a generation of kids (and big kids) got to see what the fuss was all about.

The first NSX certainly enjoyed no shortage of the mystique and mythology that has long shaped the imagery of the most legendary supercars. It was inspired by the F-16 fighter jet, designed to give the Ferrari 348 a fright, and honed with the benefit of input from the late three-time Formula One champion, Ayrton Senna.

So, what’s changed with the new model?

A lot has altered in the years since the last original NSX rolled off the production line. We’ve seen Honda continue its sporadic involvement in F1 – albeit announcing lately its intention to again leave the sport at the end of 2021 – and when the second-generation NSX finally launched in 2015, it quickly became evident that this was no like-for-like replacement of the first iteration.

For one thing, the new NSX was both designed and developed in America, in contrast to the original’s decidedly Japanese origins. A particular signal of the second-generation NSX being a product of the 2010s, though, was the decision to fit it with a complex hybrid power system, combining a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine with three electric motors. One of that trio helps the engine to drive the rear wheels, while the other two drive a front wheel each.

So, you get the manageability of all-wheel-drive, which lives up well enough to the previous NSX’s mission of being an “everyday” supercar. That’s handy, given that the performance numbers are as “OMG” as one would expect: 573bhp and 476lb ft, resulting in a more-than-fly-killing 191mph top speed and a sub-three-second 0-62mph time that gives the likes of the Audi R8 and McLaren 570S plenty to think about.

A car that you might respect more than love

How does that tilt for both pin-you-to-your-seat briskness and day-to-day usability work out in practice? Well, it works out just fine. The adaptive dampers are just one great example of how the NSX balances such competing priorities, having been calibrated in a 2019 update to boost comfort in their softest setting, while still leaving scope for greater control in Sport+ and Track modes.  

Having said this, you’d need to have spent a decent amount of time with the pre-’19 second-generation NSX to notice much difference to the driving experience. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing – while the latest NSX remains as dazzlingly capable as ever, it still doesn’t feel quite as involving as its obvious rivals when you’re snaking your way down those mazy B-roads.

So, what about the price tag?

Again, there’s both good news and bad news to share here. Despite the Honda badge it shares with city runabouts, the new NSX won’t leave you with much change from £150,000 when purchased new, although that will at least help to ensure all-important exclusivity. After all, how often did you see even the original NSX on the roads back in the ‘90s?

The more encouraging news, however, is that you may be able to slash that price considerably if you’re happy to go with the pre-2019 facelift model – which, as we’ve stated, barely differs in terms of the quality of its driving experience anyway.

We recently saw a 2017-registered model, for example, on sale for just £129,999 at Reynolds Motor Group, which has a sound reputation as a source of used cars for sale in Southend-on-Sea – and we’re sure you’ll find no shortage of similarly great deals out there for such a great ‘real world’ supercar.