When Honda brought production of the first-generation NSX to an end in 2005, after 15 years, few could have guessed it would be a decade until we got to meet its successor. The Japanese supercar was universally loved for its sharp-edged looks, all-aluminium body and brilliant driving dynamics. Nevertheless, as a last hurrah, Honda launched a more hardcore, focused R version, and in 2004 we got our hands on it.
“Anyone who has ever played the game Gran Turismo, and I mean really played it by sifting for hours through the specification sheets of the car, balancing a rigid weight reduction scheme against extra torque, a lower ride height and a couple more degrees of camber for that extra bit of turn-in through the final bend at the Grand Valley, will appreciate this car more than most,” we wrote. “In isolation, the modifications are not huge, but as a whole, they amount to a completely different car.”
The NSX went on a diet for its R makeover, losing its air conditioning system, which reduced its already low kerb weight to 1270kg. The NSX-R was distinguished further from the standard car with a lighter flywheel and shorter throttle pedal travel to boost response. Bigger brakes were fitted, too.
The improvements went on: “Its suspension is stiffer and lower, and the body has been similarly modified with the addition of strut braces and the use of carbonfibre in vital areas. The final drive has been altered to improve acceleration. And the wheels are stiffer and lighter to reduce unsprung weight, the tyres having been developed to maximise the effects of the new suspension.” The power steering system was also removed to reduce weight and increase feel.
However, the most significant changes concerned the aerodynamics, “with its new Lamborghini Diablo GT-style carbonfibre bonnet nostril and a big rear diffuser/spoiler package”.