We get behind the wheel of the new Honda NSX to see what it can do on the road and the track
Intelligent use of other, lightweight, materials, could reduce the Type R’s kerbweight yet further. “There are places weight could be cut out,” says Robinson. “We are Honda so cost [of exotic materials on the regular car] is a consideration, but for a limited edition? Why not?”
The regular NSX was benchmarked against a Porsche 911 Turbo, Ferrari 458 Italia and Audi R8 V10. “We also benchmarked a Porsche 911 991 GT3,” says Robinson, “but only for steering feel, that’s all. The GT3 is a very track focused car. But for a Type R, of course, it could be a direct competitor,” he said.
If the front-drive mechanisms were to be ditched, Honda has some experience of the NSX in rear-driven form only. “There is a maintenance mode,” says Robinson, who likened enabling it to enabling cheats on a PlayStation games console – press up up, down down, left two right two, etc – in which form ABS and all electric motor assistance is switched out. Robinson says the handling and steering are slightly odd, because the latter, particularly, is calibrated to work in conjunction with driven front wheels. But he concedes “it’s a drift machine”.
A rear-wheel drive NSX will even be racing at this year’s Pikes Peak hillclimb; one of two new NSXs that’ll be taking part with official Honda backing.
Robinson will be driving a near-production NSX, with just a roll cage and fire retardant to make it compliant with the regulations. But Robinson’s brother James – a principle powertrain engineer with Honda himself - will also be racing another, albeit altogether different, new NSX.
James Robinson’s heavily modified car will be shorn of the hybrid powertrain system, so will only be rear driven, and though it will retain the 3.5-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, it’ll be making rather more power than standard – and will feature electric superchargers to fill the torque gap at the bottom of the rev range. Thus super- and turbocharged, it will, says brother Nick, make considerably more power than the 500bhp of the standard engine.
Robinson (Nick) also confirmed that Honda had worked on active aerodynamics for the NSX project and that although the standard car does without them, they could fit the ethos of a Type R project.
Finally, Robinson also confirmed that a convertible-roofed version of the NSX is likely to follow the coupe to market. The body is exceptionally rigid, and losing the roof panel would make precious little difference: fitting the optional carbon fibre roof to the standard NSX saves 5kg but makes no discernible difference to torsional rigidity. “I’m not that convinced by a convertible myself yet, but [technically] it’s possible,” Robinson said.