The newly launched Honda NSX supercar could’ve as easily been an exclusively left-hand drive model, with the brand having seriously considered that possibility throughout the car’s development cycle.
When work on the second-generation Honda NSX first began, it was intended to be a left-hand-drive vehicle only. However, during one of the project’s many reboots, the decision turned to making it available for both left- and right-hand-drive applications.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the 2017 Honda NSX in Portugal, the project’s chief engineer, Jason Bilotta, said it could have gone left-hand drive only – had Honda not been so insistent that the ‘car and driver connection’ must be above all else.
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“We could’ve have made it in only left-hand drive and have it in Japan, and we did consider that, you know. Make it only LHD and it’s a small volume and we have low investment,” Bilotta told CarAdvice.
“But, honestly, it wouldn’t match the needs of the customer. We are talking about connecting the car and the driver and there would be a misconnection there for anyone who needs a RHD car.”
Left-hand-drive vehicles are allowed on Japanese roads, which would’ve easily solved Honda’s issue of wanting to sell the American-built supercar in its home market. However, considering its advanced build technology, the additional investment to make it for right-hand-drive markets didn’t prove as difficult or as expensive as it could have.
“We try to do that [right-hand-drive conversion] pretty efficiently, try to minimise the amount of changes. Fortunately, with our spaceframe, we were able to kind-of optimise the cost and make the parts symmetrical where we could and, actually, it wasn’t so bad,” Bilotta said.
The difference between the left- and right-hand-drive models is limited to “moving the seat a little but and changing the instrument panel” as the main structural changes, though modifications to the steering column geometry, gearbox and brake systems were also required.
The engine, battery and compressor packaging remained universal for all NSX models. Right-hand-drive models have already been produced for the Japanese and UK market, with the first of the Australian-spec vehicles set to undergo production later this year.