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In-depth reviews

Honda NSX coupe - Engines, drive & performance (2016-2021)

The Honda NSX offers blistering performance from hybrid engine

Carbuyer Rating

3.4 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

The nature of turbocharging means that there's often a relative lack of power at low engine speeds due to the turbos taking a while to get up to speed. There are no such problems here, though, as those three electric motors – one at each front wheel and one on the rear axle between the engine and the gearbox – provide instant acceleration.

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An official 0-62mph time hasn't been announced by Honda, but it’s expected to be around three seconds - and it felt about right when we drove it. We accelerated using the car's launch control system, and found the car accelerates off the line very quickly thanks to the electric motors. Top speed is 191mph – at least on par with most of the NSX's rivals, such as the Audi R8, McLaren 570S and Mercedes-AMG GT. In practise, the NSX feels explosively fast.

But while most of those models feature a howling soundtrack, the NSX lacks the aural drama of its rivals, thanks in part to the use of turbocharging. At least some of the sound is pumped back into the car’s interior and are there some entertaining whooshing noises from the turbocharger.

Power is transmitted through a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox operated by steering wheel-mounted paddles and sent to all four wheels, which should guarantee impressive grip in pretty much any conditions. You can leave it to change gears for you, and it does it very well, especially as there are so many ratios to choose from if you're doing it yourself. 

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Like most modern performance cars, there are a number of driving modes, plus a launch control system for exceptionally fast starts. The NSX offers Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track modes, which are designed to take it from a whisper-quiet commuter car that can drive up to 40mph on electricity alone to a full-on track day racer. Honda describes the NSX as an "aggressive daily driver".

The four-wheel drive system means you can drive the NSX very quickly through corners, too. There's an impressive amount of grip and the car feels stable when you're going around bends, plus it feels very easy to do this - it doesn't feel like an intimidating car to drive at high speeds. The steering wheel is small, similar to that of a Ferrari 488 GTB - and has been designed to work with minimal input, so it feels precise and suitably sporty.

What we do know is that the NSX will have to work hard to disguise its weight – it’s 80kg heaver than a Mercedes-AMG GT, 170kg heavier than an Audi R8 V10 Plus and more than 400kg heavier than a McLaren 570S. It disguises its weight well, though, and the brakes are powerful and feel like they're up to the job of stopping the car without any fuss. 

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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