Honda NSX: The Mid-Engined Masterpiece From Japan

The Car That Revolutionized Japanese Car Design

The Honda NSX is a car so great that even Gordon Murray used it as an inspiration for designing the McLaren F1. It revolutionized the design of Japanese cars. No one expected Honda to come up with a supercar that will rival other supercar brands. Nonetheless, people at Honda were successful in their first attempt of making a supercar. It forced European companies to change their strategies.

What started as a concept designed by Pininfarina with Honda eventually became the face of Japanese Sports Cars. The main advantage of the Honda NSX over its competitors is the fact that it is more reliable. It is sold under Honda’s flagship Acura brand in North America and Hong Kong. Let’s check out what makes it a classic:-


Honda NSX Concept

In its time, there were no cars that would compete with Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, etc. Honda also didn’t have a sports car in their lineup. So when Honda decided to have one, expectations were high. The Benchmark for the car was set to beat the Ferrari 328 i.e. the Ferrari 348. The NSX in its name stands for ‘New Sportscar eXperimental’. The design process also involved the motorsports division extensively. First prototype designed by Pininfarina was called ‘HP-X’ and looked as shown in the image.

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Honda NSX Design

The design of Honda NSX literally speaks of performance. It is the world’s first production car with an all-aluminum body. The aluminum saved nearly 200 kg in weight as compared to steel. The independent four-channel ABS system, titanium connecting rods, and electric power steering system are some of its few notable features. The exterior had a dedicated 23-step paint process which included an aircraft type chromate coating to protect the aluminum bodywork. From 1995, a Targa top option was provided.

Engine and Performance

Honda NSX Engine

Its 3.0-liter V6 engine generates 276 Horsepower and 285 Nm torque. Its speed tops at 273 kmph and it can reach from 0 to 100 kmph in 5.8 seconds. The 3.2-liter model generates 290 HP and 304 Nm of torque. The engine redline is at 8000 RPM. The Brazilian Formula One Champion Ayrton Senna helped to stiffen the chassis after initial testing. Due to his input, Honda took the prototype to Nurburgring to tune chassis stiffness. Honda’s motorsport division helped to develop and tune the car too.

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Facelifts and Variants

Honda NSX- R GT

Though the simple NSX was enough to rival other supercar companies, Honda thought that something more can be done to it. This led to the launch of various models which were NSX-R, NSX-T, NSX Type S, Type S-Zero, and the 2002 facelifts of NSX and NSX-R. The 2002 facelifts removed the pop-up headlights to reduce weight and improve aerodynamics. In 2005, only 5 limited edition NSX-R GTs were produced and all were sold for more than $500,000. An ‘Alex Zanardi Edition’ was also introduced in 1999 in the USA.


As the motorsport division of Honda was involved in design of the car, it didn’t come as a surprise that it was involved in motorsports. The NSX-GT1 and GT2 cars competed in 24 hours of Le Mans. The GT2 engines generated 400 bhp and the turbocharged GT1 generated 600 bhp. The Honda NSX also competed in Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC) and Super GT. Other events were the SCCA World Challenge and 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The NSX has been used as safety car at the Suzuka Circuit, Japan.

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Second-Generation NSX

After its discontinuation in 2005, the NSX marque disappeared for a while. However, in December 2011, Honda officially announced a Second-gen NSX concept. They showcased the concept model at the 2012 North American International Auto Show. The second-gen Honda NSX was offered for sale in 2016. It gets power from a hybrid-electric powertrain with a 3.5 liter twin-turbo V6 engine and three electric motors. The maximum output is 573 HP and 645 Nm of torque. It can accelerate from 0 o 100 kmph in 2.7 seconds and its top speed is more than 310 kmph.


The second-gen Honda NSX is surely able to carry the responsibility of being a true-to-the-roots Japanese sports car. It extends upon the benchmarks set by its predecessor and has created its own identity. However, it is the classic NSX, the mid-engine beast that has made the marque legendary and is still popular. This is especially evident when well-maintained examples sell for around $100,000 or even more. For that much, you get a masterpiece from Japan; and trust us, it is completely worth every penny.

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