Honda NSX TMS-42

It appears that not only is a more focused Type R version of the new Honda NSX sports car still on the cards, but that it may also drop some parts of its hybrid all-wheel drive powertrain, making it rear-wheel drive only in the pursuit of weight savings.

According to Autocar UK, NSX dynamic development leader Nick Robinson said that although the project has yet to be given an official green light for production, there is a “huge will” within Honda to do so, and the company hopes the standard NSX to be just the start of Honda’s return to building sportier machines. The British publication contends that a Type R would be a “logical first step.”

If the report turns out to be true, the NSX Type R could see the jettisoning of the standard car’s 72 hp pair of electric motors at the front, as well as their associated batteries. This, Autocar speculates, could be the first step of a crash diet that could see the Type R drop hundreds of kilos over the NSX’s 1,725 kg kerb weight.

The 47 hp rear electric motor – which, in addition to assisting the 500 hp 3.5 litre twin-turbo mid-mounted V6 in low-end response, also acts as the alternator, starter motor and flywheel – is expected to remain. Nevertheless, the removal of the front motors could still result in a sizeable weight saving, especially when the NSX’s hybrid system alone currently weighs some 150 kg.

Yet more weight could be shorn through the use of lightweight materials, while active aerodynamics – developed for the standard NSX but ultimately left out – could also find their way on the Type R. “There are places weight could be cut out,” Robinson said. “We are Honda, so cost is a consideration [on the regular car] – but for a limited edition? Why not?”

Honda NSX TMS-49

It turns out that the standard NSX can already be driven in rear-wheel drive-only form, as Robinson claimed that it has a maintenance mode, which switches off ABS and all electric motor assistance. And while he added the handling and steering – calibrated to work together with the all-wheel drive system – feels odd in this mode, he also said, “It’s a drift machine.”

In fact, a rear-wheel drive NSX will already be participating in the annual Pikes Peak hill climb this year, driven by Nick’s brother James. Significantly different from the near-standard model that Nick will pilot at the same event, the heavily modified version has had its hybrid system removed.

The V6 will also be given electric superchargers to make up the shortfall in low-end torque. So equipped, Nick said, the twin-charged engine would make significantly more than the current V6’s 500 hp.

It has also been confirmed that a roadster version of the regular NSX will likely make it to production after the coupé, with little penalty in torsional rigidity – as the coupé’s optional carbon fibre roof only provides a 5 kg weight saving with no difference to structural strength. “I’m not that convinced by a convertible myself yet, but it’s possible,” Robinson said.

We’ve taken the Honda NSX for a short spin on Honda’s Tochigi test track, and you can read about it here.

GALLERY: Honda NSX at Tokyo 2015