It all started in 1984 when Honda commissioned the Italian car designer Pininfarina to design the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental), which had a mid-mounted 2.0L V6. After Honda committed to the project, management informed the engineers that the new car would have to be as fast as anything coming from Italy and Germany. The HP-X concept car evolved into a prototype known as NS-X, which stood for New Sportscar eXperimental.
The original performance target for Honda’s new sportscar was the Ferrari 328, which was revised to the 348 as the design neared completion. Honda intended its sportscar to meet or exceed the performance of the Ferrari, while offering targeted reliability and a lower price point. For this reason, the 2.0L V6 of the HP-X was abandoned and replaced with a more powerful 3.0L VTEC V6 engine.
First Generation (1990-2005)
In 1990, the first NSX debuted and turned the exotic world upside down. Honda showed the world that it was possible to have a sporty, fun, exotic car that could be used reliably as a daily driver.
Virtually all exotics of the era, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and the like, were built in small factories in Northern Italy and were often hard to live with. While they were fun to drive on occasion, they typically had poor build quality, ergonomics and reliability. Honda’s mid-engine, two-seater set new standards and demonstrated that it was possible to have an exotic with windows and air conditioning that would start without fail every morning.
This NSX became the world’s first mass-produced car to feature an all-aluminum body. It was powered by an all-aluminum 3.0 L V6 engine, which featured Honda’s VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) system developed in the 1980s, and either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed Sport Shift automatic transmission.
It was originally available as a coupe and from 1995 with a targa top. It underwent a performance upgrade in 1997, which saw the arrival of a larger 3.2L V6 engine, and a facelift in 2002 before being discontinued in 2005. North American models were sold as the Acura NSX.
In December 2007, Honda announced plans to launch an NSX successor by 2010, based on the styling of the front-engined V10 Acura ASCC (Advanced Sports Car Concept).
Despite prototypes being tested for production, just a year later, Honda announced that plans had been cancelled due to poor economic conditions.
Second Generation (2016-present)
Reports that Honda was again developing a successor to the NSX reemerged in April 2011. By December 2011, Honda officially announced a second generation NSX concept, which was unveiled the following month at the 2012 North American International Auto Show as the Acura NSX Concept.
The production model was displayed three years later at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, proposed for sale in 2016. Although the original name was retained, this time it was defined as “New Sports eXperience”.
The new NSX is a hybrid sports car powered by 3.5 L twin-turbo V6 engine and three electric motors, two of which form part of the “SH-AWD” all wheel drivetrain. The transmission is a 9-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic. Its body utilizes a space frame design, which is made from aluminum, ultra-high strength steel, a carbon-fiber floor, and other rigid and lightweight materials, some of which are the world’s first applications.
With a total of 573 HP going through all four wheels, the NSX will undoubtably be quick; however, while the original was a breakthrough product, this version has a lot of tough competition. Hybrid supercars and hypercars aren’t the novelty they were, even just a few years ago.
Unlike the first generation, the new NSX is designed and manufactured in the United States. Compared to the previous generation, this version of the NSX is described as an American muscle meets European exotic. The exhaust sounds completely different from the original. While the original model sounds like an Italian exotic car, this new model has an exhaust that is heavily inspired by the original muscle cars from the 1960s, particularly the ’65 Mustang or the ’67 Chevelle. It is sold as the Acura NSX in North America and as the Honda NSX worldwide. The price is set at $156,000 and can go up to $200,000 when fully loaded.