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Honda confirms hybrid NSX supercar

Déjà vu: Honda’s last NSX concept appeared at the 2007 Detroit motor show, in the form of the V10-powered Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept.

Next-gen NSX concept confirmed to head four new concepts from Honda at Detroit

Honda logo13 Dec 2011

HONDA has confirmed it will reveal no fewer than four all-new vehicles at the Detroit motor show on January 9, headlined by “a concept version of the next generation Acura NSX super car”.

Although it has not revealed any images of its all-new NSX concept, which is expected to hit the street with hybrid power within two years, Honda’s unequivocal statement makes it clear the struggling Japanese brand has again committed to a spiritual successor for its original NSX supercar.

Honda did likewise when it revealed the V10-powered Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept five years ago at the 2007 Detroit show, but that project was formally cancelled as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures – including Honda’s withdrawal from Formula One from the 2009 season – announced in the midst of the GFC in December 2008.

Now, after being one of the hardest hit by Japan’s catastrophic earthquake and Thailand’s crippling floods this year, Honda has come out with all guns blazing by announcing it will not only use Detroit to show its born-again Ferrari fighter but an all-new compact sports sedan, a redesigned RDX crossover and a concept of the next US Accord Coupe.

Honda says the two-seater NSX Concept represents the styling direction for its next Acura supercar, while the Acura ILX Concept previews an all-new entry-level luxury compact sedan at the other end of the Acura range, due for US launch early next year.

15 center imageLeft: 2007 Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept. Below: Honda EV-STER concept.

Designed to be Acura’s new range-opener, the Civic-based ILX replaces the TSX and will offer three powertrains including the Honda premium brand’s first petrol-electric hybrid (the 1.5-litre system from the Insight and CR-Z), plus 2.0-litre direct-injection and 2.4-litre petrol fours.

Acura also confirmed it will unveil a prototype of its second-generation CR-V-based compact SUV, the 2013 RDX, while a bigger new RL large sedan flagship (sold in Australia as the Legend) is due on sale in the US next year following a New York show debut and a redesigned (accord-based) TL medium sedan will follow in 2013.

Although only the NSX is likely to be sold as a Honda outside North America, it is expected to adopt a specially tuned version of the hybrid ‘Electric Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive’ system fitted to mainstream Acura models including the RL sedan and MDX crossover, which was discontinued here in 2007 but is due for replacement in 2013.

Autocar reports that the hybrid SH-AWD will be offered in those models first with a 230kW 3.5-litre direct-injection petrol V6 paired with a 30kW electric motor that will drive the front axle through Honda’s first seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while each rear wheel will be driven by a 20kW electric motor also powered by a lithium-ion battery.

The layout – similar to the one Mitsubishi will offer in its next-generation plug-in hybrid Outlander – is expected to be reversed for use in the new NSX, which should incorporate a mid/front-mounted V6 to power the rear wheels, with twin electric motors positioned up front.

To keep the next NSX as light as possible, Honda is tipped to make extensive use of aluminium in its construction – as it did with the original – which could also employ carbonfibre-reinforced plastic.

Expect the new NSX, which reports say will enter production by the end of 2013, to be lower and wider than the original 1991 model, which rode on a 2523mm wheelbase and measured 4404mm long, 1811mm wide and 1171mm high.

Selected automotive media were given a sneak preview of the NSX concept in Las Vegas recently, when Honda said it would reposition the Acura brand as a mid-level premium marque that favours efficiency over performance over the next 18 months, rather than competing directly with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus.

Those present said the NSX prototype – which will be an exception to that rule by representing a direct rival for Nissan’s GT-R, Porsche’s 911 and Audi’s R8 – features a super-low nose dominated by a pair of futuristic five-LED headlights and a subtle version of Acura’s polarising shield grille.

While Honda’s mould-breaking mid-engined V6 supercar disappeared in 2005 after a 15-year production run, the 2007 NSX concept featured a front-mounted V10 delivering in excess of 500hp (373kW) to all four wheels via Honda’s SH-AWD system.

“Acura has a steady cadence of exciting new models coming to market and it will all begin in Detroit,” said Acura sales and service vice-president and general manager, Jeff Conrad.

“From the all-new Acura ILX at the gateway of the line-up to the pinnacle of performance with the Acura NSX Concept, Acura vehicles are being created for luxury customers who aspire to the highest levels of quality and value, with beautiful styling and the right balance of technology, performance and environmental responsibility.”

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