Did you read the first drive on the Honda NSX yesterday? Did the impressions of the new hybrid supercar, a decade (and counting) in the making, leave you a little underwhelmed?
I sympathise. I drove the car myself yesterday, but you didn’t read my words on it because, well, Honda had some bizarre embargo nonsense which meant that some American writers were allowed to say what they thought before the rest of the world could even admit to having been behind the wheel.
I can’t say that I enjoyed the same length of time with the car as our friends across the pond; they had two days on the road, I had a couple of laps of the high-speed bowl at Honda’s Tochigi R&D facility, complete with nervous engineer in the passenger seat. But I already know this: Honda has indeed created something pretty special with the NSX. If you want astonishing technology in your supercar, it’s right here - and, if they don’t play silly games with the exchange rate, potentially at a lower price than seems credible.
What concerns me is how Honda is pitching the NSX as the same “everyday supercar” that revolutionised its area of the market back in the nineties (indeed, project director Ted Klaus used that very phrase). It’s not that it’s an impossible mission, or even a questionable goal altogether; it’s just that back when the original car was launched, the idea of a supercar that didn’t try to kill you on any wet B-road was something of a novelty. And now it’s not.
Even the Porsche 911 Turbo would have been a relatively hairy creature back in 1990. These days? I’m less certain. It’s a frighteningly fast weapon, for sure, but even if it does have a nasty side beyond its limit, that extremity is so far beyond most mortals that it’s not going to be an issue.
Contrast, too, the Ferraris of the day. The 348 had a pretty lively reputation; now the 458 and 488 are applauded for combining accessibility with the razzmatazz. Dang it, even a Lambo Huracan has rear-view mirrors you can use.
So if you’re looking for a reason why the initial reception for the NSX has been a bit lukewarm instead of foaming at the mouth, I think this is the crux of it. Try to sell it to me on its hybrid tech, Honda, and it may find its home. Punt it out there as the natural successor to the supercar people can use every day and it could get lost in the crowd.
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