Tuesday 25th September 2012


SPOTTED: HONDA NSX

Chris Harris muses on the investability of Honda's Ferrari 348 rival


Are NSXs over-priced at the moment, or should we be stashing good ones away in preparation for a march towards six-figure territory?

276bhp V6 under here
276bhp V6 under here
They are pretty Marmite things for the simple reason that you need to have quite a specific list of motoring proclivities  – Japan, motor sport, Senna – to worship at the altar of something with only a fraction of a 348’s glamour. Naturally, I am the undoing of my own theory, because I’m sort of an NSX fan.

The engineering side is exceptional. The greatest automotive adventures are those defined by makers forcing themselves into new sectors - direct assaults on the perceived superiority of others. Think Lamborghini taking umbrage at Enzo, Ford building the GT40 to spite, er, Enzo, and then Honda deciding to apply its searing engineering intelligence to, wait for it, have a pop at Ferrari. My weak grasp of statistics is spotting a trend here.

I have never quite understood the hype surrounding the NSX driving experience. It was always good so long as you didn’t push too hard. Then it became a serious handful. The engine was a revelation – so free and musical  - and the gearchange made anything from Ferrari and Porsche feel like a 1981 Mini. In so many ways it was streets ahead of the competition.
Cabin perhaps a little too sober
Cabin perhaps a little too sober


But if we now look back at the NSX era, it’s hard not to see the car as a failure. History shows that Honda launched the car at simultaneously the best and the worst time: a global recession was lurking, but Ferrari was on its knees. The 348 was (and is still) widely regarded as the worst car the company had built in years. That was Honda's one chance to knock a hole in the Ferrari myth, but they never quite applied the coup de grace.

These are beautiful pieces of engineering though. Robust, easy to drive, dripping with interest and a perfect machine to cherish and appreciate. Best of all, whatever Honda does next, it is unlikely to smoulder for 20 years with the legacy of Senna.

In yellow, yes please.

Author: Chris Harris
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