Acura, Honda’s upscale division, introduced the NSX Concept at the 2012 Detroit auto show, promising that it forecast a coming successor to the brilliant, dearly departed NSX sports car. Then, at the 2013 edition of the show, Acura showed a more detailed second version, with a fully realised interior.
When is this car going into production? That is something to which Honda has not quite committed. “In only about two short years from now”, Mike Accavitti, Acura’s vice president of national marketing operations, said at the Detroit show. But as anyone who follows the gestation of would-be supercars knows, “about” can have remarkable elasticity, and details about the next NSX remain scarce.
We all know, however, what the old NSX was. Upon its introduction in 1990, it revolutionised the sports car market. Here was a sleek, mid-engine, all-aluminium supercar at a time when Ferrari and Lamborghini were still building with heavy-gauge steel. The original NSX was quick, despite initially having only a 270-horsepower, 3-litre V6 engine aboard. It handled brilliantly, too, slashing through corners as if its tires were chemically bonded to the pavement. Despite all that, the NSX, which was marketed in the UK and Asia as a Honda model, could be comfortably driven every day because the cockpit was roomy and the ride was not punishing. And since it was a Honda, it introduced an X-factor into the old supercar calculus: reliability.
The NSX remained in production through the 2005 model year. There are those who still contend that it should have become a perennial model like the Porsche 911, being constantly updated instead of replaced. There are even more who believe it was a betrayal when Honda did not have a successor ready when the first car was finally killed off. This is, after all, the car that forced Ferrari to build better Ferraris.
All Honda will tells us about the next NSX is that it will look something like the concept car. That, and it will feature a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain that uses a direct-injection V6 and three electric motors to improve speed and cornering. Called the Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, it calls for an electric motor for each front wheel, with the third helping with the rear wheels. All this will be coordinated by lots of computers that help vector power for better cornering, as well as a new dual-clutch transmission.
“How much total power will the new NSX have?” Next question, please.
“How much will it cost?” Even Honda probably does not know that yet.
What is known is that most of the development work is being done in the United States by engineers recruited from around the planet. And we know that when the new NSX goes into production, it will be at a plant in Ohio, where Honda has long operated.
Given the propensity of “only about two short years” to stretch to three, if not four, a supercar buyer may require the thrill of a next-generation NSX right now.
Ferraris are too common and Lamborghinis too crass. For the millionaire with a sophisticated sensibility, the mid-engine supercar of the moment is the McLaren MP4-12C. It comes from Britain’s McLaren, which has a racing heritage only slightly less glorious than Ferrari’s, and is the follow-up to McLaren’s legendary, 618-horsepower, 240mph, road car of the 1990s, the F1. Consequently, unlike so many other exotic cars out there fighting for attention, this one has serious pedigree.
It backs up that heritage with astonishing performance and particularly well-applied high technology. In general specification, the MP4-12C competes with the Ferrari 458 Italia and Lamborghini Gallardo: smaller than V12-powered monsters like Lamborghini’s Aventador, but better handling, more responsive and more fun on a racetrack or the right road.
This is, after all, the car that forced Ferrari to build better Ferraris.