What should a supercar be? We know the European answer to that question, a formula personified by Ferrari, echoed by McLaren and lightly evolved by the handful of less exotic premium brands who've dared to enter this rarified segment. What you get in each case is a race car for the road. What you need, says Honda, is this. Welcome to the MK2 model NSX.
The name may resonate because the earlier generation of this model, launched back in 1989, had such a profound effect on its sector. Here was an exclusive junior supercar as focused as any Porsche or Ferrari, but a machine that could be as undemanding to own and drive as a Civic. The letters stood for 'New Sportscar eXperimental' and when Honda experiments, the automotive world sits up and takes notice. They certainly did with that early NSX. The styling was inspired by an F-16 fighter jet and the selling price was pretty much half the cost of the comparable Maranello product of that era, a Ferrari 348. Famously too, the chassis was developed with the help of Ayrton Senna - but crucially, you didn't need his talent to really enjoy it.
We'd never seen a supercar quite like that. A machine an ordinary driver could take near to the limit on the road without frightening and possibly dangerous consequences. A car that wasn't awkward to drive in town. Or worrying in the wet. Small wonder that the original model stayed in production in 2005, Honda subsequently readying a V10-engined replacement that was supposed to celebrate the success of the brand's return to Formula One. It didn't happen. The F1 team floundered and fell victim to the period's worldwide recession, as did the replacement NSX. And that might have been that, had it not been for a dedicated band of enthusiasts within the company who refused to let this model line die. Finally, the Japanese management relented and a small team from the brand's American Acura division were tasked with reinterpreting what the 'New Sportscar eXperimental' concept should mean for the modern era. This MK2 model was their response.
Launched in 2015, then lightly updated in mid-2018, it was as different from its market contemporaries as its predecessor was from the competition back in the Nineties. This time round, the change lay in the way that the car took the hybrid performance technology used on £750,000 hypercars like McLaren's P1, the Ferrari La Ferrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder and made it available for Porsche 911 Turbo- money. As part of that, there are no fewer than four motors on offer - a 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo boosted by an electric motor, together powering the wheels out back, with the Sport Hybrid AWD system completed by two further motors powering the wheels up-front. This NSX can start and creep briefly on all-electric power, it can flash to 62mph in under three seconds, it can reach nearly 200mph flat out and it's everyday-usable enough to feel quite suitable if all you actually need it to do is to collect your dry cleaning. This, in Honda's words, is what an 'Everyday supercar' should be. Here, we're going to look at the pre-facelift 2016-2018 models.