Honda never really considered its critically acclaimed NSX supercar a thing of the past -- even after the sleek speedster was discontinued in 2005. On Monday, the Japanese automaker unveiled at the Detroit auto show the revived NSX, a gas-electric hybrid, which it says will be delivered to eager early customers by the end of the year.
“Our goal was to create a human-centered sports car,” Ted Klaus, NSX’s chief engineer, said at the car’s debut on Monday during the 2015 North American International Auto Show. “When we began development [of the NSX] the notion of a hybrid sports car was new.”
The new 2016 Acura NSX two-seater has three electric motors, one for the rear wheels and one for each front wheel, in order to distribute front wheel torque independently. The heart of the car is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 engine connected to a nine-speed automative dual-clutch transmission. Performance specs aren’t out yet, but it’s likely to match or exceed peers in the group, such as the BMW i8, a plug-in hybrid electric sports car.
Honda is using language like “human fit” and “driver-centric performance” to describe this $150,000 racer, hoping to sell skeptics of cars like this that can have the reputation of being difficult to handle by less-experienced drivers.
The original NSX, built from 1990 to 2005, was a critically acclaimed, money-losing mid-engine racer and the first all-aluminum supercar.
In the '90s, Honda had some of the best high-performance auto engineers on the planet, and the company recruited Brazilian Formula One champ Ayrton Senna (who died in 1994 in an accident during the San Marino Grand Prix) to fine tune the original NSX’s suspension to meet the standards of professional racing.
But the car was discontinued in 2005 because of falling demand that led Honda to avoid investing in a fresh model. The company decided that updating the car would be too costly.
The NSX will be manufactured at Honda’s new Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio, not far from Honda’s North American research and development operations in Raymond, Ohio. First customer deliveries will take place later this year after production begins in the fall. Sitting in the front row during Monday’s presentation was a possible early customer: comedian and avid car collector Jerry Seinfeld.