THE CLARKSON REVIEW: 2017 HONDA NSX
BACK IN the days when you could walk from Calais to Dover and wattle was a popular building material, Honda decided it would like to build a supercar with a V10 engine. It would, the company said, be a replacement for the old NSX, and I was very excited.
Every so often I’d call Honda to see how it was coming along, and it’d say, “Very well”, but that there’d been a bit of a delay because of the ice age, or the eruption of Krakatoa or some other geological disturbance. I seem to recall at one point it said it’d had to change the interior because modern man was a different shape from his Neanderthal predecessor.
And then there was a wobble in the Japanese economy, and the V10 engine lost its Formula One halo, so Honda announced that the new car would be some kind of hybrid with electric motors and a turbocharged V6. That sounded pretty exciting too, especially when Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche were busy demonstrating just how biblical a combination such as this could be.
I kept calling Honda to ask when I could drive its new offering and was always told the same thing. “Soon.” It said the design and engineering team in California was “benchmarking” the Chevrolet Corvette, and when this was done it would be ready.
A year later it said the team had decamped to Germany to benchmark various Porsches. And then a year after that it was in Mauritius benchmarking cocktails. I began to think the new NSX was a machine that existed only in Honda’s dreams and that it would never see the light of day.
But then last year, after a quick trip to Sydney to benchmark some surfboards and a stopover in Bali to benchmark a couple of beaches, the tanned and relaxed designers and engineers announced the car was finished.
And I must say it looked good. It’s very low and very wide — wider than almost anything else on the road, in fact. It also appeared to be very clever, since its mid-mounted twin-turbo V6 was fitted with a 47bhp electric motor that would provide power while the turbos were drawing from the well of witchcraft but were not quite ready to deliver it.
Furthermore, each front wheel was fitted with its own 36bhp electric motor, which meant this fairly conventional-looking supercar was anything but, under the skin. Can you even begin to imagine, for instance, the computing power needed simply to keep all four wheels rotating at the same speed?
When you start to consider that, you can see why it’s taken so long to get the new NSX from the doodle, “Wouldn’t it be nice?” phase and into the showrooms. Especially when you step inside and realise that despite the behind-the-scenes complexity, it comes with a normal steering wheel, normal pedals, normal paddles for the nine-speed gearbox and a normal price. I’m not being flippant. At £143,950 it’s almost five times less expensive than Porsche’s hybrid alternative.