Australian News - March 14, 2019

2019 Honda NSX Arrives In Australia

The first 2019 Year Model Honda NSX built for the Australian market has now arrived, featuring new design cues, fresh exterior and interior colour combinations, and key chassis upgrades that enhance vehicle dynamics.

Unveiled at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering event on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula in California last August, the new 19YM NSX arrived in Melbourne just in time to join Honda Australia’s 50th birthday celebrations on February 4.

Finished in striking Thermal Orange Pearl premium paint, global Build Number #02008 was precision crafted at Honda’s Performance Manufacturing Centre in Marysville, Ohio, and will now be used by Honda Australia to engage with customers and motoring enthusiasts at dealerships and special events around the country.

Design Updates, Expanded Colour Palette

New for 2019 is the stunning Thermal Orange Pearl premium paint option that continues the tradition of NSX colour names inspired by motorsports venues and iconic corners, paying homage to 30 years of Acura motorsports vehicles with orange accented liveries. Joining the Thermal Orange Pearl exterior, the carbon ceramic metallic (CCM) brakes can now be fitted with orange calipers.

All 2019 NSX models are distinguished by a new body-colour front grille garnish (previously silver) and high-gloss treatments for the front grille surround, front air intake mesh and rear bumper outlet mesh.

High-gloss treatment has also been applied to the carbon fibre rear spoiler, as well as the rest of the carbon fibre exterior package – including the front lip spoiler, side skirt garnish and rear diffuser.

Inside the cabin, the 2019 NSX color palette is expanded with the addition of an optional Indigo blue semi-aniline leather and Alcantara® theme.

Dynamics Enhancements

For the 2019 model, engineers modified chassis components, tyres and software tuning to make the NSX even more responsive to the will of the driver, elevating performance driving in all circumstances, from daily driving to the circuit.

At the limit, the balance, playfulness and controllability of the NSX has improved, allowing the driver to more precisely modulate understeer and oversteer with subtle throttle inputs. The changes resulted in a faster lap time in testing around the world famous Suzuka Circuit, improving the previous mark by almost two seconds.

Chassis enhancements include larger front and rear stabiliser bars (increasing stiffness by 26 per cent at the front, 19 per cent at the rear) and 21 per cent stiffer rear toe-link bushings, while rear hub rigidity has increased by six per cent.

Software calibrations to the NSX’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® power unit, active magnetorheological dampers, electric power steering and VSA settings capitalise on this new hardware, as well as the grippier tyre setup.

The 2019 NSX rides on new Continental SportContact™ 6 tyres, developed exclusively for Honda’s cutting-edge hybrid supercar. The new tyres (replacing the Continental ContiSportContact™ 5P fitted previously) feature a revised tread pattern, construction and rubber compound for improved handling performance in all conditions – from daily commuting to track use – including wet weather driving.

Electrifying Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® Power Unit

The 2019 NSX continues to be powered by the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® power unit consisting of a twin-turbocharged mid-mounted V6 engine paired with a 9-speed dual clutch transmission (9DCT). An electric Direct Drive Motor integrated with the engine and 9DCT supplements the engine with instantaneous electric torque.

Containing two additional electric motors, the front-mounted Twin Motor Unit (TMU) continuously varies torque – both positive and negative – to the left and right front wheels to enhance handling precision and cornering capabilities, elevating driver confidence and performance. Maximum system output is 427 kW of power and 646 Nm of torque.

The Integrated Dynamics System in the NSX – with Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track modes – provides for a wider range of driving experiences than conventional supercars. The NSX features an advanced, multi-material body and aluminium-intensive space frame with the world’s first application of aluminium ablation casting in the space frame structure, enabling ultra-high rigidity, compact packaging and outstanding collision safety performance.

2019 Honda NSX Pricing

Each NSX is crafted one-by-one at the Performance Manufacturing Centre (PMC) in Marysville, Ohio and continues the NSX tradition of offering an incredible performance value in the supercar market.

Pricing for the 2019 NSX in Australia remains unchanged at $420,000* and continues to come standard with almost all the options boxes ticked. It will be available in a range of eight exterior colours and combination of five high-quality interior trims.

A choice of three solid exterior colours are available as standard on NSX – Berlina Black, Curva Red or 130R White, which is named after the legendary lefthander at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan – one of the fastest corners in Formula One.

One metallic colour (Source Silver) and two pearlescent paints (Casino White and the new Thermal Orange) are available for an additional $1,500. Two special Andaro® nanoparticle pearlescent aerospace technology finishes – Nouvelle Blue Pearl and the iconic Valencia Red Pearl – complete the range and are available for an additional $10,000.

30 Years Since Debut of Iconic NSX Supercar

It has now been 30 years since the shot heard around the automotive world — the 1989 global debut of the first-generation Honda NSX.  The first mid-engined exotic without European pedigree, NSX was a low slung, super light, high-revving machine sporting the world’s first all-aluminium monocoque, titanium connecting rods, a VTEC™ valvetrain and levels of quality and daily driving comfort unheard of in sports cars of the time.

Introduced as the NS-X Concept, the precursor to the production NSX, Honda chose the Chicago Auto Show for the global debut, at a press conference held at the Drake Hotel on February 9, 1989. In celebrating this milestone event, Honda returned to the Chicago Auto Show this year, hosting a panel discussion to reflect on the car’s origins, its impact on the automotive landscape and the role the next-generation NSX is playing in the renaissance of Honda today.

Game Changer

Since its debut, NSX has made an indelible impression on the exotic and supercar world. Its all-aluminium construction and 201 kilowatt VTEC V6 were as exotic as anything available at the time, but its conventionally comfortable and ergonomic cockpit and gentle road manners ran sharply counter to contemporary European exotics.

“Before NSX, it was always assumed that supercar performance came at the price of a comfortable interior and everyday drivability,” said Jon Ikeda, Vice President and General Manager of the Acura Division of American Honda Co., Inc.

“NSX shattered those notions, and raised the bar on every other exotic and supercar maker, with the effects still felt today. NSX was a huge inspiration and one of the major reasons I was drawn to join Honda nearly 30 years ago.”

Like its predecessor, today’s second-generation NSX incorporates groundbreaking technology. The Honda NSX is the only supercar made in America and the only one utilising electric motors to enhance every element of dynamic performance, seamlessly combining three-motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ with a bespoke twin-turbocharged, mid-mounted V6 engine to deliver an unparalleled range of driving experiences, from all-electric Quiet mode to the ultimate at-the-limit capability of Track mode.

Roots of NS-X

Honda R&D in Japan took the first steps toward what would become the first-generation NSX in January 1984 with basic research on a new drive system distinct from the “FF” (front-engine/front-wheel drive) vehicle type that had underpinned Honda’s success with such iconic models as Civic, Accord and Integra.

A year earlier, Honda had made its return to Formula 1 racing and its engineers were excited about the prospects of creating a sports car that would showcase the company’s deeply rooted racing spirit and high-performance design and engineering capabilities.

Also, the R&D team had been contacted several times by the group at American Honda that was planning the launch of the Acura brand, indicating their interest in a pinnacle sports car for the new lineup.

The focus of the research was on an underfloor, midship-engine rear-wheel drive (UMR) format that could combine higher packaging efficiency along with the sport characteristics associated with rear drive. It was Honda’s first experience designing a passenger car with the engine in the rear half of the vehicle.

In February 1984, the development team created a UMR test vehicle using a first-generation Honda City.
Formal development of what would become the Honda NSX began in the American autumn of 1985.

An Engine Roars, and Changes Follow

The prototype NS-X Concept introduced at the Drake Hotel in Chicago in February 1989 was shorter overall than the final production vehicle, with a shorter wheelbase and less front and rear overhang. The evolution of the design from prototype to production would be impacted by a late change to the engine specification – from the prototype’s SOHC V6, shared with the Honda Legend sedan, to the production NSX’s bespoke DOHC V6 with VTEC valvetrain.

Prior to the press conference, the president of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Tadashi Kume, unexpectedly decided to fire up the prototype’s engine, a sound that could be heard in an adjacent room, where a competing automaker was holding its own press preview.

While the noisy blast attracted media attention, Kume turned to the NSX engineering team and asked why the NS-X Concept didn’t use the new VTEC technology that had been recently developed at R&D. When told that it was only planned for a 4-cylinder engine application, Kume pushed the team for a VTEC V6 design.

The engineering team received similar input from a group of top enthusiast automotive journalists attending a “super long lead” driving event at Honda’s Tochigi R&D Centre, prior to the prototype’s Chicago Auto Show debut.

These included top testers from Car and DriverMotor Trend and Road & Track. The reactions were generally very positive; however, there was also a feeling that the NSX could use more power.

Ultimately, the DOHC VTEC cylinder head was wider than the head on the prototype’s SOHC engine, with significant implications to the production NSX body. The wider engine resulted in a slightly longer wheelbase, along with increased front and rear overhang for the production NSX. All of these changes occurred rapidly, resulting in the longer production model.

Putting the NS-X Prototype to the Ultimate Test

New technology like the all-aluminium unibody and chassis and transverse V6 engine were critical to NSX’s capabilities, and challenged conventional wisdom of an exotic car. But key to the dynamic performance story was the human element, and one specific human in particular.

In the early stages of development, the R&D team spent an entire month at Honda’s Suzuka Circuit, where they conducted numerous evaluations with the test car. In February 1989, around the same time as the NS-X Concept model’s debut in Chicago, legendary F1 driver Ayrton Senna was in Japan to test the new Honda F1 car. The engineering team asked Senna if he would evaluate the NSX prototype. Even though the production NSX targeted levels of rigidity equaling Porsche and Ferrari, Senna felt it could be better.

“I’m not sure I can really give you appropriate advice on a mass-production car,” Senna told the team, “but I feel it’s a little fragile.”

Based on Senna’s input, the team raised its targets for rigidity in April, 1989. They chose the famed Nürburgring for testing, believing that the course would reveal problems they couldn’t detect in their testing at Suzuka. They knew that an extremely difficult course like the Nürburgring would expose even a slight delay in the vehicle’s response to driver inputs.

Sure enough, the “Green Hell” exposed that the flexing body was taking away the desired feel of an immediate and direct connection between the car and driver. By the end of the Nürburgring tests and over eight months of continuous effort to improve the body design, engineers had increased the car’s rigidity by 50 per cent.

From NS-X to NSX – Naming Honda’s New Supercar

The NS-X development name was one of several created by the R&D team in Japan to represent the prototype supercar. In the view of the development team, the naming concept for NS-X was “New”, “Sportscar” and “unknown world” – with “X” being the mathematical symbol for a variable, or an unknown value.

A team at American Honda selected NS-X from the list of possible names, but chose to express the definition as “New Sports eXperimental.”

That said, NS-X was not originally intended as the go-to-market model name. It was considered as the name for the prototype to be revealed in Chicago and then to be used in subsequent promotional appearances.

But the incredible attention the NS-X received around the world created virtually unstoppable momentum for the name. So a decision was made to remove the hyphen from NS-X leading to NSX as the official model name for Honda’s first supercar.

NSX Today: A Common Thread

With its multi-material space frame body, groundbreaking three-motor Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive™ system , today’s NSX pays homage to the groundbreaking nature of the original while exploring altogether new concepts in electrified supercar performance. Also, like the original, the next-gen NSX powertrain design evolved radically from its conceptual origins.

The Honda NSX Concept that debuted at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show showcased a naturally-aspirated 60-degree V6 mounted transverse behind the seats in a layout similar to the original NSX. However, in the middle of development, the global R&D team decided to take a more challenging path – the creation of an all-new twin-turbocharged longitudinally mounted 75-degree V6.

Similar to the move to a DOHC V6 in the original, the adoption of a new powertrain concept had wide-ranging effects on the body proportions, aerodynamics package and overall design.

“Changing the powertrain design and layout was NOT an easy task,” said Ted Klaus, NSX Global Development Leader.

“Frankly, it was like undergoing a heart transplant while running a marathon. But 10 seconds behind the wheel and you understand why this power unit is key to delivering a New Sports Experience.”

Despite the major powertrain change, the development team maintained the original schedule – revealing the production version of the second-generation NSX just three years later at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

* Manufacturer’s List Price (MLP) excludes Dealer Delivery and statutory charges