HONDA NSX

RISING SUNíS REBORN SUPERCAR PLOTS ASSAULT WITH BATTERY, BUT DOESNíT ELECTRIFY ALL JUDGES

JOHN CAREY

HEREíS the car that divided opinion more sharply than any other at COTY 2017. Hondaís aim with the NSX was to create a visionary supercar, something to rekindle its fading reputation for engineering, at once audacious and intelligent. And this hyper-hybrid does demonstrate that one of Japanís bravest brands, historically speaking, hasnít turned into a complete coward, technically speaking.

But while the NSX is stuffed with tomorrow technology, is this enough to make it desirable today? This, in essence, was the question that split the judges, sometimes noisily.

COTYís Technology criterion demands that innovation should bring genuine advancement.

Some argued that the NSX lacks the power, pace and passion of conventional supercars in the vicinity of its lofty $420,000 price. The Honda should be quicker, handle better and make a more thrilling noise. Like, for example, the Audi R8 also present.

The counter attackers pointed out that the Honda produces supercar-league acceleration more efficiently, with three electric motors supplementing the output of its twin-turbo 3.5-litre engine. The sound of the 75-degree V6 in Sport+ and Race modes is wonderful, at least from inside the Honda, and the way the NSXís drivetrain seamlessly blends urge from four different sources is hugely impressive.

The nine-speed dual-clutch transmission was singled out for special praise. Itís a magically quick and beautifully co-ordinated shifter when the carís sportier modes are selected.

Possibly even better than the latest dual-clutch gearboxes from the acknowledged experts at Porsche and Ferrari.

The electric motors that make the Honda a hybrid add breadth to the carís capability, they argued. The NSX can run almost silently, using only electric power, in its Quiet mode, making it a more sociable beast than the typical supercar. And the torque-vectoring ability of the two electric motors in its front axle palpably enhances handling.

But the hybrid system makes the NSX a relatively heavy and therefore less agile car, despite Hondaís best weight-shaving efforts in the design and construction of the carís aluminium-intensive spaceframe chassis. And the efficiency benefit Ė the NSX returns a 9.7L/100km result in the Australian consumption test Ė isnít enough to justify the complexity. So argued the anti-NSX faction.

It wasnít all argy-bargy. There was consensus that the NSXís lane-change stability was as outstanding as its wet braking wasnít.

The NSX is too costly to be independently crash tested and lacks advanced active safety technology, such as AEB, which is increasingly offered in much less costly cars, though it is fitted with an array of passive safety features.

The NSX comes as a welcome hint at a Honda return to form, but because it failed to win every judge with its technology, performance and driving character, it could not advance beyond Round One.

SPECS BODY

wheelsmag.com.au Type 2-door coupe, 2 seats Boot capacity 110 litres Weight 1725kg DRIVETRAIN Layout mid-engine (north-south), AWD Engine 3493cc twin-turbo V6, 3 x electric motors (427kW/645Nm) Transmission 9-speed dual-clutch CHASSIS Tyres 245/35R19 Ė 305/30R20 ADR81 fuel consumption 9.7L/100km CO2 emissions 226g/km Collision mitigation Crash rating not tested Price $420,000

ďEXHAUST NOISE IS EPICÖ BUT ONLY FROM INSIDE THE CARĒ

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

ďDIDNíT BLOW MY MIND DYNAMICALLYĒ

ALEX INWOOD

OHIO GOZAIMASU

This most Japanese of supercars isnít made there.

The NSX is manufactured in the long-established Honda plant in Marysville, Ohio. When the factory opened in 1982 it marked the dawn of Japanese car manufacturing in the United States. These days it produces the CR-V in left-hand drive and Acurabadged SUVs. The first Marysville-made Honda to be exported to Australia was the Accord Aerodeck wagon in the early 1990s.