Honda NSX (2016-2021) Review
Hybrid Honda NSX pairs a petrol engine with electric motors for an exciting and high-tech drive
Strengths & weaknesses
- Sheer power: 581hp is never dull
- Clever hybrid setup makes car quick and agile
- Fun on the road and racing track
- Heavy compared with rivals
- Limited availability
- Expensive but sat-nav is still an optional extra
Thankfully, driving Honda’s £130,000+ supercar is far less complicated than the technology working around you. The NSX has three electric motors and a twin-turbocharged V6 engine for a total output of 581hp. That's a lot and absolutely feels it when you put the car in Track mode, engage launch control and flatten the throttle. This car accelerates phenomenally quickly, faster even than than the three seconds that it takes a Porsche 911 Turbo to go from 0-62mph.
One of the electric motors is fitted directly to the engine, which sits in the middle of the car, and gives an extra kick of power. That kick comes at low speeds to cover any power shortfall before the engine is providing its full power. The feeling is of never-ending power right up until the engine’s 7,500rpm rev limiter.
The other two electric motors sit between the front wheels to give the NSX four-wheel drive. They contribute to the overall power total, but they also cleverly portion out that power in different doses to the left and right wheels to help it get around bends faster. As a result the NSX corners like a smaller, much lighter car than its rather heavy 1.8-tonne weight suggests. Also helping on that score is a low-mounted dashboard and reasonably thin front pillars that provide a better view out.
A clever trick in this car is the driving modes. Most supercars these days let you adjust elements like the steering, gearchanges, exhaust noise and the suspension, so you can tailor the car to suit your tastes. But the difference in NSX is really heightened. ‘Quiet’ mode tones down the exhaust noise do you don't anger the neightbours every time you leave home early, softens the suspension and even lets the car drive briefly in electric-only mode (briefly because its electric battery is only small). Then comes Sport, Sport+ and finally Track, which is when the car responds far quicker to your right foot on the throttle, changes gears in the 9-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox much faster and pipes more exhaust noise into the cabin.
Turn the big, central-mounted dial back to Quiet mode and it’s as comfortable and calm a car as you’ll find in the supercar segment. The cabin is roomy, the seats aren’t the vice-like items they can be on some supercars and wind noise well suppressed at speed. Making it less easy to drive is a wide 12.1m turning circle (a common problem among cars like this) and the wide mirrors that add almost another 30cm to the 1.9m body width. A stronger argument against choosing the NSX are made by two very competent (and lighter) rivals: the Audi R8 and McLaren 570S. What they lack is the fiendishly clever hybrid system that gives the NSX an appealing character all of its own at this price, but they very much have their own charm.
|Warranty||3 years / 60,000 miles|
|Road tax||Band L (£885 in first year and £500 thereafter)|
- 2015 The production version of the Honda NSX is revealed.
- 2016 NSX sales start, however the 60 cars allocated to the UK sold out until 2018.
Honda NSX Engines
There’s just one engine choice for the NSX: a 3.5-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 with 507hp. The three electric motors then bring the power to 581hp. That total figure puts the NSX right between the two versions of the NSX’s close rival, the Audi R8, which has 540hp or 610hp depending on the model.
The hybrid assist function on the NSX isn’t there to save fuel but to increase power at times when the engine might fall short, for example during gearchanges. That’s why Honda can claim a better 0-62mph time than the lighter and more powerful Audi R8 Plus, at just below 3.0 seconds.
The Honda also has a better fuel economy figure of 28.2mpg against the Audi’s 23mpg. This translates into a CO2 figure of 228g/km, which is just over the threshold that puts it into one of the most expensive tax bands, so you must pay tax of £500 a year.
Servicing for the car is every year or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. There’s just one UK Honda garage qualified to sell and service the car, in Hendon, north London, but the garage will pick up and return the car for you.
0-62mph: 2.9 sec (est)
Honda NSX Trims
There are no trim levels with the NSX. Instead, there's a range of options that let you personalise the car. As with many supercars, it’s hard not to pick some of them. For example the standard iron brake discs haven’t even been finalised in development yet, meaning that those who bought the first cars had to pay an extra £8,400 for the carbon ceramic discs. That’s steep, but we’d recommend them. They work well, but also we expect most secondhand buyers to seek out cars with them fitted.
The other big decision is whether to choose the carbon fibre exterior sport package, for £7,100, which adds dark grey body parts made of lightweight carbon fibre. Ultimately it will come down to personal decision. We were told they don’t save any significant weight so depends whether you like your car finished with that specific high-tech look that carbon offers. An interior carbon fibre pack costs £2,300 while swapping out the plastic engine cover for a carbon fibre version costs £2,900.
The NSX doesn’t include standard sat-nav or parking sensors, but they’re bundled together for £1,700. That seems incredibly steep for something that you’d expect to be on such an expensive car as standard, especially as the Garmin sat-nav isn’t especially smart in terms of graphics and usability.
Honda NSX Reliability and warranty
Hondas are generally reliable according to the 2016 Auto Express Driver Power survey. The brand finished a creditable fifth, and you’d expect the NSX to carry on that tradition of owner satisfaction.
There’s a standard three-year, 60,000 warranty on the car. Included in that is the nine-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Normally the clutch on a manual is a wear-and-tear item, but if the NSX's gearbox goes wrong, Honda will pick up the tab within the warranty period.
What Honda couldn’t answer with any certainty is how much track time you’re allowed within the warranty. Honda says the car has been developed for the track as well as the road, but says it’s likely there’ll be a clause restricting track days to comply with the warranty terms. The handbooks hadn’t been printed when we drove the car.
Used Honda NSX
The old NSX has been out of production so long that it’s now a fast-appreciating classic. Versions of that car start at around £35,000 with the less desirable automatic gearbox. Manual cars cost more. Meanwhile, second-hand versions of the new car will be few and far between, even though the car has been around for several years.