Honda NSX supercar reborn as a 550bhp hybrid with a twin-turbo V6 and three electric motors; on sale in late 2015
16 January 2015

The all-new Honda NSX was revealed at the Detroit motor show this week, some 25 years after the launch of its iconic predecessor. The new, second-generation car has been developed in the US and will be produced in the new Performance Manufacturing Centre in Marysville, Ohio.

Although the new NSX is built around a lightweight structure and has a mid-mounted V6 engine, that is where the resemblance to the original, all-aluminium NSX ends. The new model has a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain driving all four wheels and a new multi-material structure with an ultra-stiff carbonfibre floor.

The heart of the NSX’s powertrain is a 75-degree, twin-turbocharged V6, which drives an all-new nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. On top of this, the NSX’s ‘sport hybrid’ system incorporates three electric motors. 

Honda hasn’t officially revealed the powertrain’s power and torque outputs yet, but it is expected to produce a system total of about 550bhp.

The V6 has a dry-sump lubrication system and ‘compact’ valvetrain designed to allow the motor to be mounted as low as possible in the body, helping to lower the car’s centre of gravity. Honda says the nine-speed DCT is capable of “synapse-quick” shifts and executes rev-matching downshifts.

One of the three electric motors is housed between the engine and gearbox and is said to support “acceleration, braking and transmission shifting performance”. 

The other two motors are mounted on the NSX’s front axle. Each motor drives an individual wheel, not only delivering “instantaneous torque”, according to Honda, but also providing dynamic torque vectoring. 

Each motor drives a front wheel and can apply differing levels of torque, “enhancing acceleration and braking performance”. This set-up can also deliver “zero-delay launch and braking performance”, the company says. Agile Handling Assist (AHA) uses “subtle application of brake torque to further enhance response and dynamic stability”.

The NSX has four switchable chassis modes. Quiet mode allows the car to be driven on battery power only for short distances. The other modes - in an ascending order of dynamism - are Sport, Sport+ and Track. Honda claims the latter “reveals the full spectrum of the NSX’s capabilities”.

During the NSX's development, chief engineer Ted Klaus told Autocar that the complex electronics would be tuned to only intervene if they improve the driving experience. In particular, he highlighted the possibility of using the electric motors to deliver instant throttle response, or to allow silent all-electric drive. "The NSX must stay true to the role it created, of being an everyday exotic," said Klaus. "That means we must only use the new tech to support the driver to live with the car every day, and to give the driver a car with a depth of abilities that they can peel away with familiarity, as they get to know the car.

"The technology gives us a chance to create a car that is focused on being agile, precise and linear in its responses like never before. We are looking to do more than chase numbers on paper - as with the original NSX we wont have the most powerful car in the category, for instance, but we believe the human element is more important than that. Whatever we do, the driver must be at the centre of the experience, not the car."

The structure of the new NSX is described as a spaceframe design that is constructed from ultra-high-strength steel and aluminium. The floor of the structure is made of carbonfibre and the cabin features “ultra-thin” A-pillars.

The NSX also features a “world-first [aluminium] casting process that combines the benefits of both cast and forged components”. The body panels are made from a combination of aluminum and sheet moulding composite.

At 4470mm long, the NSX is about 40mm longer the original, as well as 130mm wider and 45mm higher. The front track is a significant 145mm wider and the rear track 75mm wider. The car’s shape was aerodynamically refined in Honda’s Ohio wind tunnel.

Under the skin, the NSX’s T-shaped battery pack is mounted down the car’s centre tunnel and behind the seats. Suspension is by aluminium  double wishbones all round and the car rolls on 8.5x19in front and 11x20in rear wheels. 

The braking system features carbon-ceramic discs with six-pot calipers on the front and four-pot calipers at the rear.

The Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911, Audi R8, Ferrari 458 and McLaren 12C are among the competitors that were used benchmarks by the development team, according to Klaus. “We’re looking for the excitement of the 458 at the price of the 911, and we think the hybrid technology can help us achieve that,” he said.

“The NSX has never been about a set of figures on a piece of paper,” he added. “As with the original, the eventual power figure won’t grab headlines, for instance, but the qualities that you can’t write down, such as driver involvement and pleasure, are the ones that will matter. As engineers, we like numbers, but I’m acutely aware that if we build this car against a set of criteria that has been written down, we will lose our sense of focus.”

The order books for the new NSX will open in the summer and the first examples should be delivered towards the end of this year. The likely price has yet to be revealed, although the UK allocation of cars has already been reserved by eager customers.

Officials have confirmed to Autocar that a right-hand drive version of the NSX will be made, with the aim to have that model on sale before the end of 2015. Just 1419 examples of the original NSX were sold in Europe between 1990-2007, from 18,700 sales globally.

Sources have already suggested that a Honda NSX convertible will likely be made.

Honda's president, Takanobu Ito, has also hinted a racing NSX will be made. Speaking at the launch of the original concept car at the Detroit motor show in 2012, he said: “It is a car that is up to the performance of racing and, while this car is for customers, you might see it racing as well. Since 2005 we have strived to make a successor but global change has had a colossal effect on the industry in that time. Even a supercar must respond to environmental responsibility. This car is about high performance through efficiency."

The Honda NSX will be badged as the Acura NSX in America. Acura is Honda's upmarket brand, much as Lexus is for Nissan.

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Comments
27

22 July 2014
So glad the NSX is coming back. I would also like to see a new Supra!

22 July 2014
Purely on looks, I am interested. Obviously this new NSX has a lot of hype on it's shoulders, needing to live up to its predecessors. Then again , the original gave Ferrari performance for half the price. If this delivers 458 Italia performance for just £75k, it's done well. I genuinely hope this NSX is good and successful; hopefully it will encourage Honda to really go back to what it did best. Making excellent sports cars. New Integra Type R and S2000 next please!!

22 July 2014
Osteopathica wrote:
Honda to really go back to what it did best. Making excellent sports cars. New Integra Type R and S2000 next please!!
Paul Bearer wrote:
I would also like to see a new Supra!
I agree with these comments. A new Nissan 180SX would also me a real breath of fresh air. I see this as an R8 rival, perhaps because their shapes are not dissimilar. It's definitely a promising concept and could be a real alternative to a 911 or R8.

22 July 2014
Is that this new NSX seems to have fantastic, striking design. So now there is absolutely no excuse for the pig-ugly current Civic. Lets hope future Honda's draw some design inspiration from this NSX...

22 July 2014
and I'm sure it will live up to expectations. But I also wish Honda would sort out the rest of it's range. The FR-V was a great concept and much better looking than the Fiat Mutipla but where's its replacement? The HR-V was ahead of it's time but why wasn't it replaced years ago? Honda just left it to Nissan to re-invent the small crossover and now they are playing catch up with the new 'Vezel'. The new Jazz looks a bit of a dog but will reserve judgement until I see it in the flesh. Will the Accord ever be replaced? - I know it's a diminishing segment of the market. I must be the only person who actually likes the current Civic, especially the Tourer and hopefully the forthcoming Type R will be a return to form.

23 July 2014
The new NSX's strength will be more on the tuned 4WD handling performance rather than outright power, although I'm a bit concern whether 400bhp is actually enough to challenge Ferrari 458 or Mclaren MP4 12C around a typical track (even the basic Nissan GTR churns out about 530+bhp).

23 July 2014
NSX or i8? Similar in price and layout but different execution and approach. If Honda can be on par with BMW it will be a magnificent achievement. Significantly better? I'll be grinning so much the top of my head might fall off!

23 July 2014
If it's light. However being a hybrid it's unlikely to be, and at that price it's probably not going to be all carbon fiber....

23 July 2014
its going to have much more than 400hp, the v6 itself would already be close to 400 and what about those other three electric motors?

23 July 2014
It looks excellent. Yes a new Integra Type R would be most welcome! Now where's my lottery ticket

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