The Honda NSX effect 25 years after the original, a classic gets reimagined. On the eve of the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, Honda executives showed the press a car called the New Sports experimental, or NS-X. It was a sleek mid-engine sports car unlike anything Honda, or any other Japanese automaker, had ever done. “It could rock the sports-car establishment like never before,” we wrote. Acura was only 3 years old when it launched the Honda NSX (the hyphen had been dropped) in America. The car’s slick gearbox, incredible handling and growling V6 made it an instant hit.
Twenty-five years later, to many it still stands for “performance without compromise,” as Honda’s then-R&D chief Hiroyuki Shimojima said. And now it’s coming back. The sports-car market has changed over 25 years, and the NSX is changing with it. It’s an all-wheel- drive sports car with three electric motors, a dual-clutch transmission and, once again, a V6. The new NSX debuts in 2015 as a 2016 model.
Honda NSX 1991
FIRST PRODUCTION CAR
Honda had Pininfarina do a mid-engine sports car in the early ’80s, and the HP-X was the result, evolving into the production NSX for the 1991 model year. The car boasted a number of firsts, including the all-aluminum body and the engine’s titanium connecting rods. Of course, the 8,000-rpm redline was no slouch, either.
Honda NSX Targa 1995
The NSX-T (for targa) replaced the coupe beginning in 1995. Honda added about 100 pounds of structural enhancements to compensate for the removable aluminum roof panel, including thicker rocker panels, roof pillars and floorpan crossmembers. A semi-automatic transmission also became available for the first time to replace the four-speed automatic.
Honda NSX 2002
In 2002, the pop-up headlamps went away in favor of fixed lamps. The facelift also included a redesigned grille and a new front bumper, a skirt, side sills, side air intakes and a rear fascia. The six-speed manual transmission, optional removable roof panel, standard variable electric power steering, drive-by-wire throttle control and optional F1 -inspired shift paddles all carried over from the outgoing car.
NSX concept 2012
CONCEPT TO PRODUCTION
In December 2011, Acura announced it would show an NSX concept at the 2012 Detroit show. It was still low slung and mid-engine, but the similarities to the old car ended there. The car was all-wheel drive; it had one electric motor boosting the V6’s horsepower and two more sending torque to the front wheels. It will be assembled at a new Honda facility in Marysville, Ohio.