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Detroit show: Honda’s unveils production NSX

Full of confidence: Honda says its Ferrari-fighting new NSX offers “pinnacle supercar performance” with instantaneous acceleration and exhilarating driving dynamics.

Australia waits as Honda presents production version of reborn NSX supercar

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Honda logo13 Jan 2015

THREE long years after announcing its return to the supercar arena with a menacing near-production concept that stole the 2012 Detroit motor show, Honda has unveiled the final showroom version of its new-generation, green-tinged NSX.

Emerging 25 years after the debut of the original “paradigm-shifting” model, and 10 years after its predecessor ended production, the reborn NSX remains faithful to the concept car and subsequent prototype versions in looks and much of the mechanical configuration.

Honda’s factory in Marysville, Ohio, in the United States – the sole manufacturing plant for the vehicle – will be tooled up for right-hand-drive production and will begin accepting “custom orders” for the North American market (where it is sold as an Acura) and other major destinations in the second quarter, with the first customer deliveries expected later in the year.

Honda Australia is hoping to launch the vehicle in 2016 as a much-needed boost to its brand image and showroom traffic, which has taken a hit in recent years without the lure of dedicated sportscars and amid intense competition in the marketplace.

The Japanese brand’s sales were down 16 per cent in Australia last year to less than 33,000 units – a long way from the near-term 60,000 annual volume it has targeted, and which it last achieved in 2007.

The mid-engined layout and V6 engine power of the original NSX remain, and the vehicle continues to rely heavily on aluminium and other lightweight materials.

But this is a much different animal.

Full powertrain and specific output and performance data is still being withheld, however the V6 is an all-new 75-degree DOHC unit with twin turbochargers, driving through an all-new Honda-developed nine-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Expect the total system output to be around 410kW.

Honda says the engine employs a race-inspired valvetrain and dry sump lubrication system to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible, and that the DCT delivers “synapse-quick” gear changes and rev-matching downshifts.

As previously confirmed, the new NSX has arrived with a version of Honda’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, which was a feature of the 2007 NSX concept before the development program was officially cancelled a year later due to the global financial crisis.

An integral part of this is a ‘Sport Hybrid’ system featuring three electric motors. A rear direct-drive electric motor, housed between the engine and gearbox, is said to support acceleration, braking and transmission shifting performance, while the front wheels are driven by twin independent high-output electric motors “which deliver instantaneous torque response and dynamic left-to-right torque distribution” (torque vectoring).

The production version is slightly bigger in all dimensions to the 2012 concept, riding on a 2610mm wheelbase and measuring 4390mm in overall length, 1915mm in width and 1200mm in height. Front and rear track is 1655mm and 1615mm respectively.

The production model’s extra length and width, with a slightly more cab-forward package, reflects the need to accommodate the new longitudinally mounted bi-turbo V6 and the nine-speed DCT.

By comparison, the 2005 NSX rode on a 2350mm wheelbase and was 4425mm long, 1801mm wide and 1170mm high. Front/rear track was 1510mm/1540mm.

Presenting the production car in Detroit overnight, Acura general manager Mike Accavitti said: “Our commitment was to create an all-new NSX that is true to the heritage of NSX – a supercar that delivers a new driving experience, one where every part of the vehicle is respectful of the smartest part of the car, the driver.

“The soul of a car is the emotional connection it makes with the driver. With the NSX, that connection will be intense and immediate.”

Described as a “clean-sheet design”, the new NSX was developed by a global team based at the company’s R&D centre in Raymond, Ohio, and according to chief engineer Ted Klaus it delivers “pinnacle supercar performance, with zero-delay acceleration and exhilarating, confidence-inspiring driving dynamics”.

Although the looks are in keeping with the concept, the final body design of the NSX has a variety of detail changes to improve aerodynamics and vehicle systems cooling including modified bonnet vents, new front fender vents, modified side air intakes and an “optimised” deck spoiler.

The body utilises a space frame design constructed of aluminium, ultra-high-strength steel and other advanced materials. The floor is made from carbon-fibre, while Honda claims world-first casting technology is employed that has enabled significant weight reduction. The body panels are made of a combination of aluminium and sheet moulding composite (SMC).

The double wishbone front and rear suspension is all-aluminium, the brake discs are carbon-ceramic (squeezed by six-piston front and four-piston rear monobloc callipers) and the alloy wheels are 19x8.5-inch up front and 20x11-inch at the rear, wrapped in high-performance Z-rated 245/35 R19 and 295/30 R20 ContiSportContact tyres respectively.

The cabin is said to boast exceptional forward visibility, simple and intuitive controls and class-leading ergonomics, particularly in the seating.

The instrument cluster features a dynamic TFT display that “responds to changes in the driver-selectable Integrated Dynamics System with pertinent graphics and information”. A dial is provided for the driver to select between Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track modes, which adjusts the engine, motor, transmission and chassis response, as well as the engine sound level.

Quiet mode enables electric-only driving at lower speeds for short durations, while dynamic vehicle responses become “increasingly sharp” from Sport to Sport+ mode and to Track mode, “where the NSX reveals the full spectrum of its performance capabilities”.

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