Saturday, October 3, 2009

Honda NSX - did Honda succeed in building a supercar?

When Honda introduced the NSX in 1989/1991 this was their first attempt to compete with the performance car and supercar league. Direct competitors were the Ferrari 348 and the Porsche 911 (964). From a pricepoint it probably was in between these rivals. The NSX had an all-alluminium chassis, suspension and body. The engine was a 3.0 liter V6 VTEC, delivering roughly 270 HP. What Honda tried to achieve was to find the perfect compromise between usability, driveability and performance. So they even had to change the design to fit a bigger boot (on the cost of the design/shape) and to allow so for more luggage space. Compared to other supercars it was quite easy to enter the car and the interior was quite spacious. The performance was comparable to the NSX peers, but to drive fast the engine needed to be revved. The handling was very good for a mid-engined car, also thanks to the contributions of Ayrton Senna. The car was built for durability, maintenance costs were low compared to its competitors. So, basically what had been produced was a supercar with the low maintenance characteristics of a Honda Civic - well almost at least. The interior was a bit "plush" and instruments and dashboard maybe were not really up to the standard. But it clearly was a good car. Honda sold about 18'000 of them and they also made some appearances in racing, for example in the 24 hours race on the Nurburgring. It could have been even more successful if the economical conditions at the time of the launch would have been better.
I actually owned two NSX, a black and a red one, both built 1991. The black wasn't as good as I had hoped, but this was more because of the specific vehicle than the car as such. The second one proved to be very good, but finally I sold it because better and more beautiful cars came along. But I still consider this car as one of the best 90ies compromises between convenience and performance.

1 comment:

John L said...

So do I. I think they're great.