I hope you have a notepad, because there’s plenty to get your head around here. Like the original NSX there’s a V6 engine, but where it differs is that this V6 is twin-turbocharged and has an electric motor integrated with it and the nine-speed double-clutch gearbox, all to improve efficiency, give more power and torque, and fill in what little power gaps there are when changing gear. The science lesson doesn’t end there, as there are two more electric motors, one for each of the front wheels, and they are both entirely separate from each other and everything at the rear end. All in all there’s 581PS (427kW) and 645Nm (477lb ft) of torque.
The resulting driving experience is wild. At a very basic level this is one seriously quick machine, not as fast as a 911 Turbo S but, if you engage launch control, still more than fast enough to whip your head back into the headrest from a standstill. And even though the gearchanges are lightning fast, that electric boost accentuates the feeling of unhindered acceleration, with the punch to sustain you through the shifts. I can only imagine astronauts experience something similar in a rocket, which is appropriate, really, as a little spaceship appears on the instrument cluster if you do a full-bore launch. Zero to 62mph takes less than three seconds, according to Honda, while the top speed is 191mph.
Beyond speed the powertrain serves up an experience you won’t find in any other mid-engined supercar right now. The mechanical separation between the front and rear means that if you plant your foot to the floor with cold tyres the rears will start to spin up while the fronts just keep pulling – in that respect something like an Audi R8 feels noticeably different, because in an R8 you can feel the power being shuffled around from front to rear. On paper both might be all-wheel-drive but to experience they’re quite different.
The noise is exciting, a sharp, fierce V6 howl that’s closer in character to a Nissan GT-R than a Giulia Quadrifoglio. There’s some audio trickery going on, with pipes feeding sound to a diaphragm and from there into the cabin. There are also are microphones hidden above the seats that listen to all of the noise that isn’t the V6 and pump antiphase soundwaves through the speakers, allowing you to hear the engine more clearly – a giant, mid-engined set of noise cancelling headphones, if you will. But none of that bothers me in the slightest, as it isn’t fake noise – Honda has just worked hard to make sure you get more of the good stuff.
The steering is light, fast and accurate, with a step up in weight when you move from the car’s Quiet and Sport mode to Sport+ and Track, and the wheel itself a delightful thing to hold. In the two former modes the suspension gives you a nice compromise between support and wheel travel, making the NSX a very easy cruiser. In the latter modes, though, although everything is tighter there’s still a real quality to the ride – it isn’t firm to the point of being compromised on UK roads. As for the brakes, well if no one told you there was no physical connection between the brake pedal and the brakes themselves you wouldn’t know it. That’s right, the NSX uses a brake-by-wire system, but it is not a detriment to the driving experience at all. Quite whether I’d option the £8,400 carbon-ceramic disks of our test car is another matter, although they were wonderfully on the open road and, unusually for carbons, at low speed. In fact the NSX is the most accomplished double-clutch gearbox, carbon-ceramic braked cars I’ve ever driven when it comes to pottering around at very low speeds.
The jewel in the crown when it comes to the driving experience, however, is that the NSX can run on battery power alone. It won’t do it for long, and you don’t have full control of when short of putting the car in quiet mode, but nipping around for short periods of time in traffic or pulling up at home with no noise whatsoever is hilarious fun. Prepare to see more confused faces than you ever had done before should you drive into a petrol station on battery power.