The 2017 Honda NSX is a critical car for the Japanese brand’s future in how it reshapes itself in the wider market, the company says.
The NSX supercar, which had been in development for some time, having gone from naturally-aspirated to turbo halfway through its production cycle, now takes on the supercar world with the aim of putting the Honda brand out there alongside established supercar manufacturers and helping lift the brand’s image in the enthusiast sector.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the 2017 Honda NSX in Portugal this week, the project’s chief engineer, Jason Bilotta, said the NSX was a necessary car to tell the world of Honda’s true capabilities.
“The NSX is critical for us. It’s a way for us to showcase our DNA, to really describe what we feel how a driver and a car should interact,” Bilotta said.
“It’s the pinnacle of our product and it’s an easy way to communicate that to our customers and really give some better brand awareness and showcase our love of driving.”
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Honda looked far-and-wide for benchmarks for the NSX, finding plenty amongst exotics as well as more traditional sports cars.
“We looked at a wide variety of cars, not only our main competitors - the R8 V10, the 911 Turbo - but we were looking at everything from British, Japanese and even American cars, so we really sampled all of them.”
Bilotta admits that cars such as the Ferrari 458 were used as benchmark for agility and steering response at slow speed, while the Porsche 911 turbo was picked for its PDK dual-clutch transmission, which Honda has outdone with its nine-speed unit in the new NSX.
Even so, the NSX remains Honda’s vision for a supercar, according to Bilotta.
“I’d like to think our unique interpretation of how the driver and car interact [is what sets us apart]. This goes back to the original NSX, and the NSX core DNA as well, for the car to respond to the driver instantly.”
From a local perspective, Honda Australia’s general manager of customer and communications, Scott McGregor, told CarAdvice that the NSX was about the brand finding its natural sporty state.
“The brief for us with NSX was to provide a halo back to the Honda brand, we’ve got a lot of passionate Honda supporters that have been looking for us to bring some sportier vehicles to market and this is about as sporty as its going to get, so we definitely see the main priority for this to be the halo for the Honda brand, much more than selling cars.” McGregor said.
“Despite the fact that we make every day cars like Civics and HRVs, we are still committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation, we look at this in a similar way as Honda Jet or Asimo that the company is committed to the absolute pinnacle of technology and innovation and thinking about how that applies to vehicles that most people drive everyday.”
The Honda NSX goes on sale today from $420,000, with first customer deliveries expected early in 2017.