Acura has dismissed suggestions that the exciting new Ferrari and Porsche-hunting NSX hybrid supercar revealed today at the Detroit motor show had an unusually long gestation period from the proposal stage to production.
The second-generation Acura NSX supercar hits US showrooms within a few months where it will wear a price of about $US150,000, confirmed by the company. Right-hand drive production (with more familiar Honda badges) in Ohio is not expected to kick off until 2016, though it is still locked and loaded.
The timing of this year’s full-model reveal coincides with the ten-year anniversary of the iconic first-generation car’s discontinuation in 2005 due to impending environment regulations.
While the road has been rocky, the process of creation has been wrongly criticised for being tardy, says project chief engineer Ted Klaus, an American who previously spent several years in Japan with the brand.
Genesis of a concrete successor to this original 1990-2005 giant-killer goes back to the Detroit show at the start of 2007, when Honda’s US sports-luxury brand Acura revealed the V10-powered Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept.
However, this project was scuttled in December 2008 as Honda struggled in the mire of the global financial crisis (GFC), alongside its participation in Formula One. 2015 marks the return of both brand halos.
But going back a few years, the NSX's rebirth history is even more colourful as the project was dusted off internally and given a more environmentally friendly lease on life at — you guessed it — Detroit in January 2012 where the reborn NSX emerged with new styling and a hybrid/AWD powertrain in, and the big V10 out.
Three years later, and right on time as projected (despite an infamous prototype fire last year in Germany), the road-going model has emerged, and shared the supercar spotlight at this year’s show alongside another reborn legend, in this case the Ford GT.
This crooked path through adversity has given the project a deceptive air of tardiness that has been criticised in some circles, argued Klaus when talking with media including CarAdvice in Detroit today. The project, he insists, is three years old in all practical purposes.
“The gestation period from our viewpoint is actually quite short,” he said. “A three-year gestation period is very similar to other such pinnacle products.
“I think some of the confusion is we did have a project we started and stopped that was also called NSX, so I think if you understand the gestation period began in 2012 right here, and here we are three years later…”
Full information on the NSX can be read here, but in short it sports a hybrid drivetrain with a mid-mounted, twin-turbo 75-degree dry sump V6 (the 1990 model had a six-pot too) and a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
There are three electric motors on-board, one at each of the front wheels, and a direct drive unit at the rear that’s wedged between the V6 and the transmission. Lightweight body and chassis materials will counter the complexity to keep the mass down. Power is channelled to all four wheels via the computer-controlled Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All Wheel Drive system.
Full technical details will be release around June at the first international media drives.
Klaus did say the car would be able to run small distances in pure electric mode, though the main purpose of the motors was to supplement the petrol engine. The car will also have a high-end, F1-inspired regenerative braking system that captures and stores waste energy in the battery, not a capacitor.
When asked what he considered the main rivals, Klaus cited the usual suspects, though not the “exciting” electrified BMW i8.
“The key competitors are 911 Turbo, R8 V10, as well as looking up towards Ferrari 458 Italia. So the i8 is a wonderful exciting product, but not a key competitor,” he said.
So what of the Australian angle then?
As we know, Honda Australia is well-documented as being keen on the new NSX to sex up its range, with a local launch of very small numbers set for during 2016. When asked about the staged production rollout, Klaus said the transition to global production (RHD) would have hurdles.
“Please be patient!” he asked.