15 October 2003

Honda’s NSX shook the supercar establishment but it’s hoping to raise the stakes even higher with its successor. At next week’s Tokyo Motor Show, Honda will slide the covers off this sleek HSC concept – the blueprint for a new model due in showrooms in 2006.

The Honda Sports Concept is a thinly veiled preview of the next NSX using a development of the existing NSX’s high-revving 3.2-litre V6 tuned to develop ‘more than 300bhp’. The engine is mounted amidships driving the rear wheels in the classic supercar tradition.

Honda’s show star mixes strikingly Italianate looks with hints of the current NSX. The front is punctuated by two gaping air intakes and bulging headlamps, while the rear has hints of Ferrari Enzo about it. Those scissor doors are ‘production feasible’ according to exterior designer Toshinobu Minami.

At 4250mm, the HSC is shorter than the current NSX, but slightly wider (1900mm) and lower (1140mm). Minami told Autocar: ‘The long wheelbase and short overhangs help interior space and stability. We didn’t intentionally create an Italian look – our remit was to make the ultimate Honda sports car.’

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Honda has not disclosed the HSC’s weight, but carbonfibre and aluminium construction is guaranteed to shave off the kilos. Also absent are performance figures, but with more power and less weight, expect 180mph and 0-60mph in 4.5sec.

One of the hardest challenges will be to repeat the NSX’s unique mix of everyday usability and supercar thrills. Traditional double wishbone suspension is likely to be retained and the show car wore chunky 245/35 ZR19 rubber up front and 295/30 ZR20 at the rear.

Settle into the cabin and carbonfibre, aluminium and Nubuck leather adorn most surfaces. Lexus-like glowing dials are dominated by a tacho red-lined at 8000rpm and drivers nudge a paddle to swap gears.

Apart from a handbrake built into the centre console and an –iDrive style system, the cabin is conventional, hinting that this concept car is closer to production than you might imagine.

Although a hit with critics, the NSX has never made a big impression on buyers: last year, just 26 Brits bought one. However, a new model with a price close to today’s £60,000 tag is designed to rekindle interest in Honda’s supercar.

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