Driving

Honda NSX review

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Honda NSX
Review continues below...

In this review

Driving

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The NSX is relatively heavy for a supercar, around 1800kg , compared with 1500kg for an Audi R8 Plus or 1300kg for a McLaren 570S – but with 574bhp to motivate it, don’t worry: it’s still quick. On a private test track we’ve timed one at 3.3sec, and cracked off 0-100mph in 7.6sec. Impressive, but an Audi R8 Plus can blitz that.

However, it’s not all about racing flat-out through the gears; put your foot down in a high gear without bothering to change down, and with the extra torque supplied by its electric motors and turbochargers, the NSX gathers speed at a quite extraordinary lick.

You can dial this ferocity up or down using four different drive modes controlled by a large rotary switch on the dashboard: Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track. Quiet mode prioritises electric-only driving when pottering in town – providing the battery is charged. This makes the NSX unusually tranquil for a menacing supercar. When the petrol engine does cut in the switchable sports exhaust is also muted to its quietest setting, while the excellent nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox provides its smoothest changes.

Sport mode sharpens the engine’s response when you put your foot down, and also allows a bit more engine noise into the cabin; Sport+ ratchets up both aspects still further.

Lastly, Track mode reduces the level of traction control for more playful handling, gives you maximum acceleration when utilising the launch control function, including all-out assistance from the electric motors, and puts the gearbox into its punchiest setting, so the ferocity of each upshift jolts you back in the seat. Now you get maximum exhaust noise too, although the NSX’s anodyne-sounding V6 engine never gets your pulse racing compared to the intoxicating thunder produced by the R8’s V10.

The drive-mode selector also controls the adaptive dampers, switching between a softer or firmer ride. In its softest the NSX is reasonably cosseting over most surfaces, but thumps over large bumps and fidgets across motorway ridges more so than either an R8 or 570S.

It can’t match the handling finesse of those cars, either, so if track days are your thing, go for a 570S or R8 Plus instead. The four-wheel drive makes the NSX feel surefooted and gifts it tenacious grip next to humbler cars, but next to its equivalents it won’t turn in to corners with quite the same alacrity, or carry as much speed through a bend. The steering is light and accurate in its response, but it doesn’t teleport the sensation of grip to your hands, and in turn deliver the confidence that a 570S, and to a lesser extent an R8 would.

We’ve only tried an NSX with the costly option of carbon ceramic brakes. Even these don’t provide the herculean stopping power of similarly equipped competitors, but despite recouping energy for the battery during braking, which can often create an odd pedal feel, the NSX’s brakes prove easy to modulate.

 

Honda NSX
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NSX
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Fuel Petrol/Electric Hybrid
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