The Honda NSX supercar is set to return in 2013 as a 400bhp four-wheel-drive hybrid. The company has already confirmed that a new NSX will be revealed at the Detroit Motor Show in January, and now we have more information and exclusive illustrations of the Japanese Audi R8 rival.
We broke the story in October, accompanied by spy shots of a concept car on the set of the new Avengers movie
. And we’ve since had confirmation from a source in Japan that the Detroit show car will be heavily based on that model. Our images show a coupe, but the final production version will also be offered as a roadster.
This isn’t the first time Honda has tried to resurrect the NSX. You might remember the Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept, from the 2007 Detroit expo. The front-engined, V10-powered coupé was supposed to preview the next NSX, but it was canned in 2008 as the financial crisis kicked in. Honda eventually turned it into a racing car.
However, now it appears the company never actually gave up on a reborn NSX. Instead, it simply changed direction. Although the concept will be shown as an Acura – the firm’s luxury North American arm – it will be badged as a Honda when it arrives in the UK, and retain its forebear’s NSX name.
One of the biggest problems with the original NSX, introduced in 1990, was that it sat on a unique platform and used aluminium bodywork. These factors made it lightweight and sharp to drive, but also expensive. The new model will sit on a heavily revised Accord platform, to keep costs as low as possible.
Providing the power will be a 3.5-litre V6 driving one axle and a pair of in-wheel electric motors to turn the other. This will give the NSX four-wheel-drive traction and 400bhp-plus. Performance will be impressive, with 0-62mph taking under five seconds.
The hybrid powertrain is a development of Honda’s SH-AWD system, which we had the chance to sample on a recent trip to Tokyo. What’s not entirely clear yet is what engine configuration the NSX will employ. A mid-engined layout, as used on the original NSX and the Avengers concept, offers the best possible handling balance. So our images show the NSX with the V6 petrol engine driving the rear wheels and the electric motors mounted at the front.
However, there are rumours that the Detroit concept could flip this philosophy on its head and go with a more cost-effective configuration, with the engine up front and the motors at the back. The SH-AWD set-up’s versatility means either way would work.
Audi has already shown this works with the e-tron Spyder concept, which uses a mid-mounted 3.0-litre turbodiesel to drive the rear axle, paired with two electric motors for the front wheels. When this powertrain finally makes production, it will be flipped to fit into any large front-engined Audi.
The new NSX will take a host of design cues from the Avengers car, including LED brake lights that run across the rear deck, twin vertically stacked tailpipes and a pointed front grille.
Unlike the original car, which initially had pop-up headlamps, the newcomer will feature slim lights tucked neatly under the bonnet’s leading edge. Just like the Nissan GT-R, Honda wants to make its flagship model accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Expect a price of around £75,000 in the UK – about £5,000 less than Porsche’s new 911 Carrera S.
This article was updated on 4 January 2011.
We’ve driven it...
Graham Hope, Deputy editor: "We tried SH-AWD on a prototype Accord, with two electric motors at the back and a V6 up front. The motors vary the amount of torque delivered to each rear wheel for better grip and feel – and offer great handling benefits. On the NSX, the effect will be more marked."