March 19, 2016
When the Honda NSX was released in 1990, the automaker was taking huge risk. At a time when even F1 racing was removing the nuance from driving; this one of a kind sports car was adding more of it to a production car. Entirely averse to driving distractions; the Honda NSX offered only the essentials of driving (albethem high-end for the era), even before the Ariel Atom made automotive minimalism cool. Beyond the broach, the glorified go-kart is retrograde to Acura’s avant-garde, they should not be thought of as similar. Baloo (from the movie) would drive an Atom, if anthropomorphic bears fit inside of it (the cockpit of his plane in TaleSpin must have been massive). Ayrton Senna would drive an NSX, whereas Ariel stripped a sports car down to bare necessities. The NSX is not on par with the Atom’s minimalism, but it is of a similar (less nuanced) cloth. The difference being that the NSX spearheaded the then non-existent economic enthusiast car. Even the name conveyed this fact, if edited for English diction it was called the eXperimental New Sports(car). The Honda NSX was the result of a F1 engineers, and their adrenaline insider. Ayrton Senna was aforementioned for a reason, he and McLaren aligned themselves with Honda to create an utterly unique driving experience. The consortium set out to make a supercar to challenge the likes of Ferrari and Porsche. Thus, initially they were going to give the car a vicious V8. However, due to a weight target, they decided to give the it a twin-turbo V6 instead. Given the fact that now the twin turbo V6 is the engine of choice for anything over 300 and under 500 horsepower; I am going to consider that a choice ahead of its time. What would surprise most, is how much power the engine produced. It only put out 270 horsepower (upped to 290 in the Type R), which is a far cry from the 573 coursing through the 2017 Honda NSX’s veins. Regardless, in terms of Horsepower per litre, the NSX’s 90.7; destroyed all of its competition, including the Ferrari 348. More impressive is the weight. The Honda NSX was the first car to utilize an all aluminum frame, but the weight saving did not stop there. The aluminum engine block features magnesium and titanium to coax the engine up to 8000 RPMs, which allowed them to use a V6 and still achieve their 3000 pound goal. For perspective, the second generation S2000 was 2864 pounds. In tune with the previously mentioned weight target, the car lacked power steering. To combat the heavy steering feel, Honda made the skinniest grippiest tires exclusive to the NSX. While still tough to turn at low speeds, no car feels cleaner at racing speeds. This fact was ensured by the ephemeral supernova Senna. Because of his input, Honda was able to design the first car with a Traction Control System (TCS) adept at handling track conditions. As impressive as that feat is, I suspect many who bought the car never noticed. Either because they did not test the car’s limit, or if they did it was at a track and pride prefers personal input. Thereof, came the incubator for a car like the Ariel Atom. Once people got a taste of raw racecar realism, it inspired a niche. In a sense, the Honda NSX is a petrol hipster, first it reverted to a pure manual input sports car before it became popular. Now that that is cool, it is moving on to what will be the next fad for the internet age, a hybrid supercar.