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Australian pricing for the 2017 Honda NSX hybrid sports coupe is yet to be confirmed, but buyers who are expecting a bargain from the Japanese brand had better think again. The Honda NSXs advanced drivetrain includes a longitudinally mounted twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine producing 373kW and 550Nm behind the seats. Its teamed to a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, as well as a 148Nm electric motor intended to remove lag by delivering power immediately to the rear wheels. Both front wheels have their own 73Nm electric motor, which allows low-speed pure-electric operation (thanks to the lithium-ion battery pack nestled in the chassis). Honda claims a total system output of 427kW and 646Nm. Enticing, right? But those aren't the only big numbers that will likely be associated with the new NSX.
Honda Australia director Stephen Collins told CarAdvice at a media event this week that the local price of the new Honda NSX which is priced from US$156,000 in the US and 130,000 in the UK hasn't been confirmed yet. But he said the new model will be positioned at the very premium end and it will be very premium. When asked if he had locked down a price for the NSX yet, Collins said no. I would expect that in the next month or so we will be in a position to get pretty close to finalising the NSX price. We already know that the price has been announced in the US and in Europe, he said, indicating the new model would be similarly positioned here. Converted, the price is roughly $207,000 before you consider our small market and the cash-grabbing Luxury Car Tax.
Were getting close, he said.Weve already announced the five dealers that will be selling the car. That will start the pre-order process, Collins said.At this stage we've asked dealers not to take orders, but I am aware of a number of dealers who are holding some orders. How many? Im not sure. But that will start the formal pre-sale process. I expect we will have the cars literally on the ground, in showrooms, delivering them to customers by November.The NSX will be followed by the tenth-generation Honda Civic Type R a hot hatch with proper credentials, according to Collins, and one that will be positioned at a far more attainable level.
Our goal will be to make the Type R very good value for money. I dont know how much volume we will do, but I think it will be an absolute leader in the hot-hatch segment, he said.Collins gave little away about other sporty models from the brand presumably because theres not much to add, despite fellow Japanese brands nailing the affordable sports car brief: think about the Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ and WRX, and Mazda MX-5. Would we like more sporty cars and more sports cars in our range? Absolutely. And if there are more sports cars available to us, then we would put up our hand for those, he said. But I believe that in the medium term, NSX and Type R will start to really deliver that sportiness back to our brand, Collins said.Note: US market Acura NSX seen in these images for illustration purposes only.
Thermal, Calif. Im a full 12 laps into my time behind the wheel of the 2017 Honda NSX when the realisation strikes me: I need to figure out a new driving style in order to make the most of this all-new hybrid supercar. But once the chequered flag flew to close out the final four-lap session, my track time with the car, at the Thermal Club in a blistering hot California, had come to an end.
This is the kind of thing that can happen when testing a supercar that is loaded to the gills with technology, much of it focused on making the driving experience rewarding for the seasoned professional and manageable for the rank amateur all at the same time.
Allow me to explain.
The engineers at the Honda Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio, did not, in their own words, set out to create a track monster. Their target was to develop the spiritual successor to the original NSX, produced from 1990-2005, which featured strong engine performance, telepathic handling and solid reliability. That car proved to be so good, it raised the bar for more familiar supercar builders such as Ferrari.
This time around, even though track performance was supposedly not their intended goal, the Honda engineers targeted the Ferrari 458, one of the best supercars ever built and a car that is easy to drive at high speeds on a closed circuit. Compared to the Italians, they took a completely different approach to generating performance, but they wanted to capture that essential easygoing nature and theyve succeeded.
Despite the fact that the Honda NSX features a hybrid powertrain and a torque-vectoring AWD system, it also feels like a well-balanced and proper supercar. But there are some quirks. The hybrid powertrain sees a mid-mounted 3.5-litre petrol V6 linked to a pair of electric motors at the front, each one responsible for guiding one of the front wheels. Behind that V6, there is another electric motor, a direct drive unit that connects to the 9-speed dual-clutch automatic. (In case you havent noticed by now, the Honda NSX is a technologically sophisticated machine.)
Total system powerrolls in at 427kW, which is available from 6500rpm right up to the cars 7500rpm redline. The torque, all 550Nm of it, comes in at a credible 2000 rpm. The NSX has an automatic launch control system no special buttons to push, just press both the brake and the accelerator to the floor, wait for a signal to appear in the instrument panel, and release the brake.
With all four wheels churning and the transmission left in automatic, the Honda rockets off the line with so little drama, it almost doesnt feel all that quick. Yet it certainly is quick: The sprint from 0-100km/h takes three seconds flat. The NSX then goes on to record a top speed of 307km/h. Not too shabby.
While the electric motors and all-wheel drive system help to propel this supercar down a straight, they also give the NSX some interesting cornering capabilities. If youre like me, youve no doubt experienced the tendency for all-wheel drive supercars to understeer when a corner is taken too quickly or you try to get on the throttle too soon while in said corner. This can make for an excruciating track experience as youre forced to either tiptoe through corners or toss it in sideways from the start and hope for the best.
The NSX also understeers in these circumstances and then it doesnt.
The torque-vectoring capability of the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system over-accelerates the outside wheels to help bend the car around corners. At the same time, the two electric motors at the front are pulling the car forward. So the NSX understeers in certain situations and then corrects itself automatically; this is the revelation that required me to consider a new driving style.
While the acceleration and the handling of the NSX are both commendable, they pale in comparison to the regenerative braking system, which is flat-out brilliant. Many of these regenerative systems suffer from inconsistent pedal feel or simply not enough stopping power. The NSX is the exception that proves the rule; the brake-by-wire system creates a remarkably consistent feel and the optional carbon ceramic brake package delivers the stopping power expected of a supercar.
The transmission is also stellar. In automatic mode, it unfailingly selected the proper gear at the proper time, never once entering or exiting a corner in too high or too low a gear. At no time did I believe I was shifting as well in manual mode as the machine could shift on its own. This was another eye-opener.
On the open road, there was the opportunity to sample the cars other three, non-race drive modes and to establish its credentials as the proverbial everyday supercar. The NSX did not disappoint here either.
The chassis, a mixed-material creation made of aluminum, steel and carbon fibre, is resolutely rigid either two or three times as much as its closest competitor, according to the engineers at Honda. This has enabled the adaptive suspension system to provide a supple and controlled ride on bumpier roads, as well as a stiffer set-up for track duty. I wouldnt describe the NSX suspension system as being quite as wide-ranging as that of the McLaren 650S the standard-bearer, in my mind but its not far off the mark either.
In quiet mode, the most docile of them all, two of the four exhaust pipes shut down and the car can travel at speeds of up to 80km/h on electric power alone. While this all-electric commuting does not last for long (less than 4 km, in fact), this mode does help give the NSX truly remarkable fuel efficiency. (Automatic start/stop is also part of the picture.)
With all the settings at their most relaxed, the Honda NSX almost becomes a completely workable everyday commuter. Of course, theres not much space for your gear in the two-seater cabin. The boot is not large, either, and its positioned perilously close to engine bay. (Pro tip: Dont leave any packs of gum back there.) But the seats are nicely contoured and supportive, the driving position feels slightly elevated and visibility forward is very good.
The way in which leather, metal and carbon fibre have been incorporated shows creativity. The squared-off steering wheel is a nice touch. But owners of far less expensive Honda vehicles will recognize the navigation system screen and some of the controls. (To be fair, the first Audi R8 featured switchgear borrowed from an A3 and some Ferrari vehicles have used Chrysler navigation systems.)
While the 2017 Honda NSX cant lay claim to the same performance levels of the hybrid hypercar trio from Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche, its important to remember that it will cost far less. For a closer comparison, one might consider the BMW i8, a similarly exotic hybrid that offers nowhere near the outright performance of the NSX.
Without question, the latest NSX is a credible supercar that is loaded to the teeth with technology. Its not much like the original in execution, but its definitely similar in terms of intent. More importantly, its a car that stays true to Hondas roots in racing even if they dont consider it a track monster.
Work has begun on a prototype that could become a new mid-engined successor to the Subaru BRZ, according to a report out of the US this week. The prototype, said to be a response to dealers looking for something special, would be worlds away from Subarus familiar image. But, then, talk of the BRZ was once viewed in a similar light. (And then theres the SVX) American website Car & Driver reports that inside sources have spoken of a project that combines a version of the current BRZ coupe with a petrol-electric hybrid system for a performance-focused all-wheel-drive application. That hybrid system is said to be based on the next-generation all-wheel-drive system that featured in the 2014 Viziv 2 SUV concept, which sees the front wheels driven by a 1.6-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder petrol boxer engine and an electric motor, while the rear wheels get one electric motor each. For this new mid-engined prototype, however, Subarus engineers are understood to have essentially flipped that design, moving the petrol engine backwards and the two wheel-turning electric motors to the front.
Above and top: Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept
Interestingly, Car & Driver reports that its inside connection said Subaru is still deciding whether to develop the system further for a coupe application, or to instead build a small sports SUV. If the latter is the case, a return to the slightly more conventional layout used by the Viziv 2 would surely be likely. Fans will be pleased to hear, though, that the insider is reported to have added: a coupe seems more likely, though.Of course, if a production future is on the cards, the reported prototypes Frankensteined BRZ design is unlikely to form the basis of the final model. According to Car & Driver, and understandably so, the BRZ was used simply because its the only appropriate architecture readily available at this stage. If this report out of the US is to be believed, we should see camouflaged test cars hit the road in the year ahead.