Monday 3 October 2011
The Honda NSX, or Acura NSX is a sports car that was produced between 1990 and 2005 by the Japanese automaker Honda. It is equipped with a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, powered by an all-aluminium V6 petrol (gasoline) engine featuring Honda's Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC) system.
In 1984 Honda commissioned the Italian car designer Pininfarina to design the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina Xperimental), which had a mid-mounted C20A 2.0 L V6 configuration.
After Honda decided to pursue the project its management informed its engineers that the new car would have to be as good as anything coming from Italy and Germany. The HP-X concept car evolved into the NS-X (New Sportscar eXperimental) prototype. The NS-X prototype and eventual production car were designed by a team led by Chief Designer Nicholas Zander and Executive Chief Engineer Shigeru Uehara, who subsequently would be placed in charge of the S2000 project. The original performance target for the NS-X was the Ferrari 328, which was revised to the 348 as the design neared completion. Honda intended the NS-X to meet or exceed the performance of the Ferrari, while offering targeted reliability and a lower price point. For this reason, the 2.0L V6 of the HP-X was abandoned and replaced with a more powerful 3.0L VTEC V6 engine. The bodywork design had been specifically researched by Okuyuma and Uehara after studying the 360 degree visibility inside an F-16 fighter jet cockpit. The NS-X was designed to showcase several Honda automotive technologies, many derived from its F1 motor-sports program.
The NS-X was the first production car to feature an all-aluminium monocoque body, incorporating a revolutionary extruded aluminium alloy frame, and suspension. The use of aluminium in the body alone saved nearly 200 kg in weight over the steel equivalent while the aluminium suspension saved an additional 20 kg; a suspension compliance pivot helped maintain wheel alignment changes at a near zero value. Other notable features included an independent, 4-channel anti-lock brake system; titanium connecting rods in the engine to permit reliable high-rpm operation; an electric power steering system; Honda's proprietary VTEC variable valve timing system (a first in the US) and, in 1995, the first electronic throttle control fitted to a Honda.
Honda spent a great deal of time and money developing the NS-X. With a robust motorsports apparatus, Honda had significant development resources at its disposal and made extensive use of them. Respected Japanese Formula One driver Satoru Nakajima, for example, was involved with Honda in the NS-X's early on track development at Suzuka race circuit, where he performed many endurance distance duties related to chassis tuning. Brazilian Formula One World Champion Ayrton Senna, for whom Honda had powered all three of his world championship-winning Formula One race cars before his death in 1994, was considered Honda's main innovator in convincing the company to stiffen the NSX chassis further after testing the car at Honda's Suzuka GP circuit in Japan. American Bobby Rahal also participated in the car's development. Senna was given two cars by Honda. The newer one, a black 1993 model, license plate BSS-8888 (the letters meaning Beco - a childhood nickname - Senna Silva and the number 8 is a reference to his first F1 championship in 1988) is still in possession of his family.
The production car made its first public appearances as the NS-X at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989, and at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1989 to positive reviews. Sports car enthusiasts focused their attention on its low height, body lines, and pronounced forward cockpit. Honda revised the vehicle's name from NS-X to NSX before final production and sale. The Honda NSX went on sale in Japan in 1990. The NSX was sold under Honda's flagship Acura luxury brand starting in 1991 in North America and Hong Kong.
- engine: V6
- capacity: 3719 cc
- horsepower: 290 HP
- gearbox: 5+1
- top speed: 270 km/h