Honda NSX Hybrid 2016

Honda’s new NSX is no lightweight, but uses hybrid tech to make it feel like it is in 1990 it stood for NewSportscar experimental. In 2016 Honda NSX stands for New Sports experience. But what does that actually mean for Honda’s new supercar? Well, there is an almost bewildering amount of technology in this new car, but the purpose of it (if I’ve understood the engineers correctly) is to give the impression of a lightweight car when you’re behind the wheel.

At 1725kg, the new Honda NSX definitely isn’t lightweight, but on the roads around Palm Springs and the nearby Thermal Raceway it certainly doesn’t feel heavy. Perhaps the biggest trick up its sleeve is its hybrid powertrain. As well as a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6, the Honda has a pair of electric motors between the front wheels and another one situated between the internal combustion engine and the nine-speed dual-clutch gearbox. This gives the car 573bhp, 476lb ft of torque and – quite literally – electric throttle response. It really does leap forward at the first hint of travel on the right-hand pedal.

The hybrid systems also help to give the Honda NSX the cornering agility of a much lighter car. This is thanks to Direct Yaw Control, which uses torque vectoring to improve the way the car gets into, through and out of a corner. On the road you need to be going extremely hard to even nibble at the limits of the Honda NSX, but on the track you’ll find a very transparent and easy-to-read chassis balance. Whether pushing against a trace of understeer or even trail-braking and then kicking the tail wide with a bit of oversteer (if you’ve loosened the ESP), the Honda feels approachably progressive. The steering wheel is quite large, but the rack is sufficiently direct that, as with modern Ferraris, you can simply leave your hands in the quarter-to-three position all the time.

The old Honda NSX was famed for being a usable supercar and the new one makes great strides towards being the same. For a start, the doors open wide to allow easy access. Then there is Quiet mode, which not only allows you to potter around unobtrusively, even stealthily, in built-up areas, but also lightens the steering and softens the ride to a very comfortable level. The Honda NSX is easy to place on the road too, and it feels light in the cabin thanks to very narrow A-pillars.

Perhaps the only minus mark in the usability column is luggage space. Although the boot in the back stretches pretty much the whole width of the car, it isn’t particularly deep, so, while it wouldn’t have to be a dirty weekend away, you might be looking at a slightly unclean week if you were packing for two. And while I’m picking holes, it should be noted that the induction noise of the V6 above 4000rpm is terrific but it really doesn’t sound very harmonious or supercar-like below that.

To this end, I found the Sport setting slightly redundant, because if you’re just pottering then Quiet mode is the most pleasant and efficient, and if you’re not then you want the greater dynamic focus and noise of Sport Plus or even Track mode.

Overall, however, the Honda NSX is both very impressive and also very enjoyable. It might have been a while arriving, but it brings something of the 918Spyder to a much lower price bracket.