DRIVEN: 2017 Honda NSX – everyday greatness, again

Honda NSX TMS-1

Two and a half decades is a long time to wait for a replacement, and as such the anticipation that awaits the successor is definitely going to be is high. So too are the expectations. The new 2017 Honda NSX (or Acura NSX, from a North American perspective) certainly has big boots to fill.

The original was very much grew into a legend, an everyday-use sports car that was a quintessential all-rounder. The new one has certainly taken its time to appear – after endless false starts in different forms, the real deal has arrived, and by mid-2016, the right-hand drive iteration of the new NSX is set to roll off the lines from the automaker’s new Performance Manufacturing Centre (PMC) facility in Marysville, Ohio.

The new car undeniably has plenty of physical presence, wearing a very sharp suit and bearing plenty of tech, but is it destined to be a legend, like the old one? Competition has toughened in times since, and so have the demands of the day. A very brief sampling of the car at Honda’s R&D facility in Tochigi, Japan, provides an intimation of where this one is heading.

Honda NSX TMS-4

The car, which made its debut in Detroit earlier this year, was again centre-staged in Tokyo, and just ahead of the TMS a complete rundown of the car’s technical details were released.

To recap, the 4,470 mm long, 1,940 mm wide and 1,215 mm tall offering features a “Multi-Material Body” structure, where a mix of material is employed – there’s aluminium and ultra high-strength steel for the space frame, the application utilising extruded and cast parts for improved rigidity and lower weight. Carbon-fibre is also found in the mix, the front floor panels of the assembly being made of CF.

The NSX’s Sport Hybrid Power Unit system – which describes the engine, electric motors and drivetrain combination collectively – is led by a mid-mounted 3.5 litre DOHC twin-turbocharged petrol V6 engine with dry sump lubrication, which drives the rear wheels. Output figures for the lump are 500 hp at 7,500 rpm and 550 Nm of torque from 2,000-6,000 rpm.

Honda NSX TMS-40

There’s also a rear Direct Drive Motor – situated between the engine and transmission – that offers 47 hp and 148 Nm. Two more motors are to be found, driving the front wheels – the front-mounted Twin Motor Unit (TMU) puts out 72 hp (36 hp at each wheel) and 146 Nm.

The electric motors get their juice from an Intelligent Power Unit-Power Drive Unit (IPU-PDU) setup which integrates the lithium-ion battery and the high-voltage distribution bus bar. In total, the entire setup offers a combined power output of 573 hp and 645 Nm.

The transmission, meanwhile, is a nine-speed dual-clutch gearbox with ratios spread out for “optimal gear selection in all driving conditions,” with second to eight matched to make the most of the power unit’s power band and the final ninth gear optimised for fuel efficiency. Also on call, Honda’s Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system.

The NSX features a fully independent front and rear suspension, with active magnetorheological (MR) dampers. The front units are double wishbones, with double ball joint lower arms being incorporated to help eliminate feedback from the TMU system. The rear suspension is of the multi-link variety.

As standard, the NSX rides on Y-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels in front with 20-inch units at the rear, wrapped with 245/35 and 305/30 Continental ContiSport Contact 5 rubbers. Eagle-eyed observers will note that the test mules at Tochigi wear a different double five-spoke wheel design – the turbine-styled alloys look snazzier to the eye, at least for me.

The design of the interior features what the automaker calls a “Human Support Cockpit” philosophy, where a human-centric, ergonomically-enhanced design theme for both the driver and passenger has been employed for the cabin and its workings.

Plenty of attention has been placed to help shape various aspects of the cabin for usability – the centre console, dubbed as the “Simple Sports Interface,” has been specifically designed to minimise the potential for distractions. Selection of Parking/Drive/Reverse/Neutral is accomplished via button selection. Also, the design of the steering wheel itself features a more ergonomic shape, with increased surface contact for a driver’s hands.

The NSX can be operated in four drive modes, these being Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track, all carried out via the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) and selectable via the only rotary knob on the centre console. Quiet mode allows for full-electric operation at low speed, with only the TMU system being engaged from standstill – the combustion engine can be brought into play, but is limited to 4,000 rpm.

Next is the car’s default setting, Sport mode. Here, the 4,000 rpm limit is removed while the Intake Sound Control and the Active Exhaust Valve systems are activated – the latter allows for a more raucous exhaust note. Idle stop function (start-stop) is still present.

The third mode is Sport+, which offers quicker upshifts and downshifts of the nine-speed gearbox while the throttle map switches over to its most aggressive setting. In this mode, the NSX’s onboard electronics (the EPS, electric motors and Direct Yaw Control) are all tuned for maximum performance.

Lastly, Track mode, which as its moniker suggests is meant for circuit work. With this one, the NSX is zeroed in on performance and nothing else, with the most aggressive settings and parameters to deliver the fastest and most consistent lap times possible. In this mode, the lithium-ion battery is prompted to maintain a consistent level of torque output to ensure that there is no let-up in power.

The sampling of the NSX was brief – two rounds on the high-speed oval at Tochigi meant that total distance covered was around eight kilometres, all accomplished pretty much in straight and direct fashion, with maximum speed capped at 180 km/h. As such, there’s very little to report in terms of outright handling and such items such as response to steering input and placement/trackability.

Ingress and egress is a relatively painless affair (you’d have more trouble getting in and out of a S660, truth be told), and once in, the cabin ensconces in good fashion. Two things jumped out during the short drive which had very little to do with the car’s performance, and I’ll mention these because they were strikingly noticeable.

First, the steering itself, or rather the physical feel of the wheel – the attention paid to the ergonomics must be praised. The unit feels exemplary to the hands in terms of grip and rest aspects, especially in its nine-and-three primary position. As the main contact point in a car, many steerings don’t do this initial handshake well. The one in the NSX does, and sets the tone right for things further afield.

The other concerns the seating. There’s much to like in this regard, and it is more than a match for another Japanese outing in recent times which impressed with its fit, that seen in the Toyota 86. The one in the NSX is equally winsome, snug but easy to settle into, requiring very little fiddling to get right.

Honda NSX TMS-3

The start off at Tochigi was done in silent fashion, the RHD car (there was a LHD Acura example present as well) whispering as it trundled off the approach to the track proper in Quiet mode. Entering the track, Sport got the NSX to the 180 km/h enforced limit rapidly, but it’s quite civil about it rather than brutal

In many ways the sensation here (as intimated by this mode at least) is that it feels very much like an Audi R8, one of the cars the NSX was benchmarked against (other vehicles in a diverse evaluation field include the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Ferrari 458 Italia, as well as the Nissan GT-R).

The short of it is that the NSX feels like it could drive itself, and though the short stint didn’t offer too much, the suggestion is very strong that it will pander to the less experienced driver without overwhelming (and over awe-ing), and naturally reward the better one.

Honda NSX Tochigi 2

Which is where Sport+ and Track obviously come in – at the end of the first lap, the Honda engineer sitting in the passenger seat told me to slow down to 60 km/h, engaged Sport+ and proceeded to ask me to floor the pedal. The jump from Sport to Sport+ is quite noticeable, as are the accelerative qualities of the car, the response from the gearbox being particularly appealing.

Still, it never felt unruly or unmanageable, at least not noticeably on the straight run at Tochigi. A brief switch to Track before coming in to the pits hinted at the possibility of ebullience for the ham-fisted; sadly, we may never find out just how good it really is, unshackled. A quick note about the EPS steering – it feels nicely weighted, and is sharp and clean, based on the two rapid lane change switchbacks carried out on level terrain.

The limited time provided only a partial glimpse of the NSX’s nature and character, but the hint of drivability and more importantly, practicality, is very strong. It doesn’t feel cumbersome at low speeds, and despite the low height, visibility out the front is good. An everyday sports car? By all suggestions, this is looking very much the case, like its predecessor.

The wait for those wanting one through official channels may prove elusive though, here at least. Honda Malaysia says there are no immediate plans to bring the NSX in – there’s a need for a dedicated sales and service infrastructure to support it, and that’s something that has yet to be resolved. In all likelihood, it probably won’t, and the only new-gen NSXs you’ll see on the road here will be grey imports.

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Anthony Lim

Anthony Lim believes that nothing is better than a good smoke and a car with character, with good handling aspects being top of the prize heap. Having spent more than a decade and a half with an English tabloid daily never being able to grasp the meaning of brevity or being succinct, he wags his tail furiously at the idea of waffling - in greater detail - about cars and all their intrinsic peculiarities here.



  • karam singh on Nov 17, 2015 at 3:50 am

    How its sound ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0
    • Sounds like a joke. 2017 meh?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 17
      • Same L0rrrr on Nov 17, 2015 at 12:16 pm

        Don’t bother dreaming. When it comes to Malaysia, you will not able to afford it. Why? Thanks to the protection for your beloved Proton.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 21
        • Khairul on Nov 17, 2015 at 5:20 pm

          I will choose cheaper Proton over Toyota. RV is simply BS these days.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 12
    • hailthepurist on Nov 17, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      every car design by a woman is gorgeous.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
  • Stupid Honda/Acura on Nov 17, 2015 at 3:57 am

    So sad it won’t make it here. Have to ask a middle man.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
  • Awesomeness

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • Hummingbird on Nov 17, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Two and a half decades, or ’25 years’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0
  • Contilover on Nov 17, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Whatever it is..when it come to performance, Japanese car can never at PAR with German cars of performance but still good Fuel Consumption and heavy cars. Thats why Japanese can never win Formula 1 ! I will not invest my money on Japanese Sports Car.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 69
    • Jonn Dol on Nov 17, 2015 at 9:41 am

      Japanese car can never at PAR with German cars – Total BS, German cars broke down fast.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 3
      • karam singh on Nov 17, 2015 at 1:44 pm

        German’s supercar?
        Audi R8 ? Porshe 918 ? Merc SLS ? Gumpert Apollo ?
        The Porshe got recalled issue also some of the porshe very problematic that can cause fire in the engine bay
        All of those above got beaten by Japs R35 that are far more reliable & far far cheaper.
        want a supercar with perfect exhaust note?
        Lexus LFA with yamaha tuned exhaust note.

        Well tell me is there German supercar can defeat the Godzilla ? Even the Italian Bull & Horse got beaten out.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 3
        • Contilover on Nov 17, 2015 at 5:24 pm

          you must compare sports car after 10 to 20 years..which one can still be used without less problems…old carrera can still be used with less problems compare to copy Cat old NSX, nissan fairlady etc

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8
        • Contilover on Nov 17, 2015 at 5:27 pm

          modded 1200hp R35 with less weight even cannot reach 19 seconds 1 mile.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
    • Honda engine win F1 championship from 1987 to 1991.
      With the legend driver, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, and Alain Prost.
      Get your facts right please before posting.
      It show how stupid are you.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 57 Thumb down 2
      • Contilover on Nov 17, 2015 at 5:20 pm

        see during 1991 only..during that time efficiency is not important, german technology also wall up everything on Fuel consumption but not after that. Japanese cars only save when less horsepower and light cars only

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8
      • The Archbishop of Banterbury on Nov 17, 2015 at 7:08 pm

        ..And the most important thing is, Ayrton Senna won 15/16 races in 1988. (The only race Senna didn’t won is the Monaco GP, where Senna went back to his home after crashed out.)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • sorry keyboard warrior please do your research thoroughly before commenting..have you heard mclaren honda?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3
      • FIST (Member) on Nov 17, 2015 at 10:58 am

        Well you do have to be specific on the Senna era rather than the current McLaren Honda of Alonso and Button

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
    • kington on Nov 17, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Though i love Porsches with every beat of my heart, you can’t deny that in the late 90s the Japs did give a huge scare to the Contis.

      The pack of the NSX, GTO, Supra, 300ZX and the RX7 gave the Japs some recognition although these were playing 2nd fiddle to the Contis.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0
      • Z16A TT on Jul 08, 2016 at 10:36 am

        the 90’s did yield a whole bunch of Jap sports coupes, and some have received legend status today and still sought after.
        There’s no denying the germans and italians were focused sportscar / supercar makers, but the 90s was indeed a special era for Jap automakers – they actually became fun and experimented with sports coupes of various configurations (FR, MR, 4WD, FF), thanks to that era we have Skyline GTRs, Supra, GTO, RX7, Fairlady Z, Silvia, FTO, Integra, NSX, MR2 …. I’m glad to have been able to own one of them recently (more attainable + maintainable in terms of cost)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • Yea right Jap didn’t win F1.
      Get the right facts before you post anything.
      One thing good about Jap sports car is the reliability of the car. Conti car always will lose that. I can’t deny that German is more powerful however the Jap are more usable compare to German sports cars.
      I know well how a Porsche behaves, and how much spending repairing and maintaining.
      Not to invest in a Jap sports car is your choice, however make sure you have plenty of money and time to wait for the continental sports car in the workshop.
      That’s why I choose the Fairlady / rx7 (although rotary drinks) or any much smaller Jap sports car to use.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2
  • sepul on Nov 17, 2015 at 9:08 am

    The only thing lacking with the new NSX is the screaming V6 sound. So far videos of it showed the engine sound as being like a grass blower.

    Lotus Evora 400 has the best V6 sound yet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7
  • Chris Teoh on Nov 17, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Unbelievable. Paultan crew has just driven the NSX. (Applaud). Yeah this is my dream car. But not the badge tho

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3
  • that small yellow roadster behind the nsx…is that the new s660? did u test it too? :D

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
    • thepolygonal on Nov 17, 2015 at 10:34 am

      I hope that small yellow roadster make it here. That should not need a dedicated sales and service line to operate I guess. Anyway for those interested, check out the grey imported price of the new Daihatsu copen in mudah. Not listed yet in Oto I guess.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • old dog on Nov 17, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Please bring out the Lotus Esprit!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • kereta_lembu on Nov 17, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Great looking & Awesome car! At least the two and a half decade wait didn’t end with disappointment. I would assume the car would come with a hefty price tag to rival other supercars. The question would be, would you spend your millions on this Honda or other supercars like the mclaren, ferrari, lambo etc?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
    • overallcarlover on Nov 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      The thing is, if you have kids with you even in sports car, you have confident to speed using Conti Cars, using Japanese cars u will think twice. and also if u want to hit somebody with ur car, u will think twice to hit COnti cars because japanese cars are not solid

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8
  • Godcar on Nov 17, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    But can it beat Vios god car?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5
  • Beng rocks on Nov 17, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Ah beng just have wet dream when mention honda. Vtec will have make him shit on the pants too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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