NSXexy? You bet.
Back to the future
At the NGK Torque office we recently celebrated Back to the Future day. 26 years have passed since Marty McFly and The Doc jumped in the Delorean to visit 2015. Why does this matter? Well 1989 introduced a few great things to the world. Including a revolutionary car from Honda that changed the supercar game for good.
To fully understand what we’re talking about, we need to take a trip – back to the future, via the past…
1989: A game-changing year
Not only was it the year that Back to the Future 2 hit the box office, 1989 was the year that Honda lifted the curtains on the legendary NSX at the Chicago Auto Show. Where once supercars were considered highly-strung, temperamental and unmanageable, Honda created a new paradigm that could not only challenge the performance of anything from Italy. More radically it promised something that was hitherto unimaginable for an exoticar. Reliability!?
Fact is though that there is a little back story to how the NSX turned out to be the ground breaker it was. While the backroom boys at Honda had concentrated on combining performance with every day driveability, they had on hand a tame expert who would help them create one of the best handing cars of its era.
Ayrton de Silva Senna. Development driver extraordinaire.
At the time Ayrton was driving for the McLaren Honda F1 team, so his doorbell was high on the list of who you might call when you wanted a little fettling done on your baby.
Duly as requested, Mr Senna took the NSX for a spin at Honda’s Suzuka Circuit. His first impressions were that the car felt ‘A little fragile’. That resulted in them going back to the drawing board and increasing the chassis stiffness by 50 percent.
The result of this alliance can be seen below as Senna and the NSX tear up Suzuka…
With the magic wand of the master waved over their new progeny, Honda launched the NSX to much acclaim and over the next 15 years continued to gently develop the car. Of course a spyder version was duly produced. As time went on the NSX was ‘breathed upon’ to produce some rather interesting variants.
Then in 2005 Honda called last orders on the NSX, citing the high production cost and low annual sales worldwide. But as a final hurrah, 5 JDM NSX-R GTs were built and sold for a cool $500,000 each!
2015: The rebirth
The good news was however that the NSX, like all good legends, refused to die. Over the years rumours came and went about a successor but with little evidence to show for them, apart from still-born red herrings.
Finally after a long wait Honda recently revealed the new generation, production ready NSX at the 2015 Detroit Car Show. As can be expected, some things have changed significantly. You could say fast forward to the future…
The 2015 model is a 550bhp hybrid with a twin-turbo V6 and three electric motors. It features a 9-speed dual clutch transmission. And for those with a green thumb, you can switch to a fully electronic function when cruising the city streets. It’s also low. In fact, the 2015 NGK has the lowest centre of gravity in its class.
On the other hand, some things remain familiar.
The chassis of course is ultra-rigid. And aluminium remains at the core of the machine, featuring both in the lightweight multi-material for the body and fully independent aluminium suspension. Yet to be put through it’s proper paces we’re all having to wait to see where it stands in the supercar bragging rights stakes. For sure it will be up there and without doubt, true to the original, it will be an everyday driver.
Maybe next time Marty and the Doc visit the future, they might just trade in the Delorean?
Of course another two interested parties might be the current drivers of the McLaren Honda F1 team. Messrs Alonso and Button. That lucky pair are faced with the enviable choice of two supercar manufacturers to chose from when selecting their next company cars.
However we have a feeling that a certain Mr Dennis would be none too happy if they pitched up in anything other than something with a “Made in Woking” plate on it…