Honda NSX: Miyagi wrought in steel


When I was 23 Honda loaned me an NSX for a week.

To this supercar novice it felt like Mr Miyagi: fearsomely capable, but patient and benign. I drove it and drove it and drove it, and it hard-wired into my head what Honda was all about: Swiss-watch engineering, truck-like toughness and democratic pricing.

I can still feel the wrist-snap gearchange – still maybe the best I’ve ever used – and hear the howl of the VTEC V6 as it came on cam. It fried my tiny mind and pretty much decided me on a career as a car writer, in which I’ve probably been a little misty-eyed about Honda as a result.

I still look at NSXs in the classified ads on a weekly basis.

But since the demise of the old NSX there hasn’t been a car at the top of the Honda range to do the same thing: not just impress neophyte motoring hacks, but represent to everyone what Honda is about.

We’ve had to look to the firm’s robotics and aerospace arms for the almost reckless creativity and innovation its founder Soichiro encouraged.

We’ve missed it.

“The NSX is what made me fall in love with Honda 22 years ago,” Jon Ikeda, chief designer at Honda’s US sub-brand Acura told me at this year’s Detroit motor show. “I wanted to work at a company that could build something like that. And not to have something that represents us is an issue.”

So Jon got the gig of designing the new NSX – a hybrid – that will go on sale around 2015. “This has been a long time coming for me,” he said. Me too. But although his concept looks mega, the new NSX can’t be the first Japanese supercar again; can’t have the quite same impact as the original.

That first NSX will remain the poster-boy for anyone, like me, who loves that country and its cars.