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Detroit show: Honda’s NSX reborn

Back in action: Honda is back in the supercar game with the reborn Acura NSX revealed at Detroit.

Honda unveils Ferrari-fighting NSX and confirms global rollout inside three years

10 Jan 2012

HONDA has made a stunning return to the supercar arena with the unveiling in Detroit this week of a menacing near-production concept that previews its forthcoming new-generation, green-tinged NSX.

It emerges seven years after its mid-engined V6-powered predecessor ended production, and five years after the premiere of a front-engined V10 concept that delivered more than 500hp (373kW).

The reborn NSX is a different animal to both but one that borrows heavily from the past.

Shown in Detroit under the Acura brand and confirmed for global production within three years, the post-GFC NSX retains the mid-engined layout and V6 engine power of the original – which debuted in 1991 – and continues to rely heavily on aluminium and other lightweight materials.

As expected, it has also 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.

However, as Honda foreshadowed at the Tokyo motor show in November, the shorter, wider and lower new NSX will use a so-called Sport Hybrid powertrain featuring an ‘electric’ version of the SH-AWD system.

A 230kW 3.5-litre V6 combines with a 30kW electric motor to drive the rear wheels through Honda’s first seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while two independent 20kW-plus motors are positioned at the front axle – each with adjustable torque control that delivers negative or positive torque to the front wheels during cornering.

15 center imageLeft: Acura ILX and RDX.

The electric motors draw from a high-performance lithium-ion battery pack.

Honda promises the hybrid system, which will appear first on the forthcoming redesigned 2013 MDX SUV but with a reverse layout (front engine/rear-mounted electric motors), will “create supercar acceleration while offering outstanding efficiency” in the NSX.

The Japanese manufacturer is also adamant the handling performance will be unmatched by previous all-wheel-drive systems.

Presenting the vehicle in Detroit, Honda Motor Co president and CEO Takanobu Ito – who led the development of the original NSX – said the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system made the new model “the ultimate expression of Acura’s idea to create synergy between man and machine”.

“The NSX will make the driver one with the car to enhance dynamic driving abilities without getting in the way,” he said.

“Like the first NSX, we will again express high performance through engineering efficiency.”

The concept car presented in Motown rides on a 2575mm wheelbase and measures 4330mm in overall length, 1895mm in width and 1160mm in height.

By comparison, the original rode on a 2523mm wheelbase and was 4404mm long, 1811mm wide and 1171mm high.

The reborn NSX was shown with 19x9-inch front and 20x10-inch rear wheels, with 255/35R19 and 275/30R20 tyres respectively.

The model will be brought to market by an engineering team lead by Honda R&D Americas and manufactured in the US at a yet-to-be-named facility in Ohio.

Mr Ito said he first became involved with Acura about 25 years ago, leading a team of young engineers developing the body of a new supercar that would become the NSX.

“It was the biggest engineering challenge of our lives,” he said at the show.

“Through our approach to create a lightweight supercar with an all-aluminium body, the Acura NSX became an icon.

“Its key attribute was its power-to-weight ratio, which helped provide a fun-to-drive experience to anyone who got behind the wheel.

“Since production of NSX ended in 2005, we have strived to create a worthy successor. Yet many global changes have affected the automotive industry since that time.

“In this new era, even as we focus on the fun-to-drive spirit of the NSX, I think a supercar must respond to environmental responsibilities. To achieve this, the vehicle I share with you today will have two very important traits.

“First, it will have advanced technology that enhances fun-to-drive handling and performance.

“Second, it will express our own core values … to create and sustain a world where people can enjoy life. So we will again express high performance through engineering efficiency and that’s something unique to Acura DNA.

“Our vision is to achieve performance that is up to the challenge of racing. So, while we created this NSX concept for our customers, you might see NSX on the racetrack as well.”

The NSX was shown alongside two other Acura cars in Detroit: a concept version of the entry-level ILX luxury compact sedan and a prototype of the 2013 RDX crossover.

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