Spannerhead Dot

Return of the Scalpel?

August 2, 2011 by Matt

Acura NSX

A few months ago, Honda kicked the rumor can a little farther down the road with renewed talk of a long-awaited successor to their groundbreaking NSX exotic. For a while, the safe money had been on a Formula 1-inspired V10 as the upcoming car’s powerplant, but as high-revving, naturally-aspirated engines are presently unfashionable in the range-topping stratum of high-end sports sedans and sports cars, lately the odds have been on yet another hybrid, this time a combination of a breathed-upon standard Honda V6 and an electric motor.

Regardless of what motivates it, an NSX sequel would be a welcome addition to Japan’s portfolio of Porsche- and Ferrari-fighters, a dossier currently containing just a pair of files in the Nissan GT-R and Lexus LFA. For their part, both Honda and Mazda have so far declined to pick up the succession of gauntlets thrown down by the Europeans.

As with the rumors of a possible Porsche 928 successor, the talk of a sequel makes me eager to revisit the original. The NSX is member of that cadre of sport cars, like the Porsche 993 Turbo or Caterham Superlight R500, that I would give a kidney to drive, or even just experience for a few minutes.

Acura NSX Interior

When the NSX burst onto the world stage in 1990, it truly shifted the paradigm for supercars. The lightweight aluminum construction, the user-friendliness and reliability, the corner-slicing purity of the handling, the choice of a high-revving, docile-but-potent naturally-aspirated V6 over a more exotic engine design—these decisions rocked the establishment. Ferrari developed the F355 in response, at the time their best all-around car, with its new (thanks to the NSX’s influence) emphasis on drivability, balance and handling. Gordon Murray even used the NSX as inspiration for his almighty McLaren F1, seeking to reproduce the flexibility, ease of use and bandwidth of the Acura, albeit with more than twice as much horsepower as the Japanese car. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the NSX would have drowned in a sea of adulation from its peers.

From a design standpoint, at least in its ’95-’01 body-colored-roof, pop-up headlight incarnation, the car is a perfect 10. Demure but shapely, reserved but absolutely unmistakable, the lines are a tour de force of functional but deeply pleasing style. I appreciate the interior design in particular—it’s exceedingly well laid out, with a businesslike but fighter-jet feel. The low cowl improves sightlines over the front corners, and the center console design seems to effortlessly sweep the car forward. It’s an environment where I could see myself spending quite some time.

Filed under: Acura, Honda, News

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