The regular NSX, aluminium-bodied as it was, was never a heavy car, but the R still came in some 120kg lighter, at merely 1230kg – lighter by a bit than today’s Toyota GT86, which is no bad going given the materials of the day and the fact that it’s powered by a 3.0-litre V6.
That sits in the middle, and drives the rear wheels through a wonderfully mechanical-feeling five-speed manual gearbox.
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017: updates, pictures and live video
The opportunity to test all of those on Goodwood’s hill is limited when you’re in a convoy being led up for display purposes – especially in somebody else’s precious classic supercar. I’m led up, slowly, by BTCC driver Matt Neal, leading a train of Type Rs in the latest Civic, relatively gingerly. I can tell you the gearshift in the NSX R is terrifically positive and mechanical, the steering wonderfully direct, and the cornering balance firm, stable, agile. But I can’t tell you what the NSX R is like when it comes alive.
Until, that is, Neal passes onto Goodwood hill’s final straight, which runs up to and past the finish line, and on to a holding paddock. And, finally, he lets the Civic loose.
It’s a mark of how far things have come that the latest Civic would, I’m convinced, leave an NSX R for dust on a circuit. But as Neal disappears, I’m aware one small window in a car I will probably never drive again has opened up.
By today’s standards an NSX R’s 3.0-litre engine, officially still only making 276bhp even though it was blueprinted, is piffling. But by gum: give it the lot and the sound, the response, the smoothness and everything wonderful about Honda’s naturally-aspirated engines comes to life. It's not a long experience, but it doesn’t need to be, to know that the NSX R is one of the all-time greats.
Video: we drive Honda's 2017 360bhp BTCC Civic Type R racer