One of the reasons why Honda was one of the only global car companies which lost market value in 2012, is because it’s taking far too long to innovate and produce competitive new products. The NSX is a good case in point.
After literally ‘defining’ the Japanese supercar market in 1990 with its Ayrton Senna developed sports car, Honda dropped the model in 2005 at around the same time as Toyota’s board of management signed off their 552bhp LFA supercar. As Lexus launched and scooped the plaudits with its brave new supercar, Honda execs sat on their hands debating the whys and wherefores of whether the timing was right to re-launch a sports car in such troubled economic times.
Meanwhile the market for luxury and high-end sports cars is booming, while the mid-sized family sector (which Honda now competes in) suffers from overcapacity with most experts agreeing on a figure of between 20-30 per cent excess capacity (for producing cars compared to actual demand) by 2016.
Within such a saturated market companies normally resort to methods of differentiating their brands, which in the automotive world usually means launching something dynamic, sporty and sexy.
Ring any bells Honda?
So given Honda’s precarious competitive position you might expect a slightly more up-beat statement when it launched the latest evolution of its NSX Concept at yesterday’s Detroit Motor Show. In its press release , the company said “..the new NSX Concept showcases the evolution of the next-generation supercar’s styling and design, including a first-ever look at one possible direction for the next-generation NSX interior design.”
If that’s what Honda calls ‘working its PR machine’ then one wonders whether they’ve really got the gumption to reclaim the Japanese-supercar mantle.
The new NSX Concept is based on the expected underpinnings of the vehicle Honda/Acura will bring to market, but even then Honda’s press release reads more like a product catalogue update rather than the greatest Japanese sports car for a decade. Apparently the NSX will “..deliver on the synergy between man and machine that will be true of all Honda/Acura vehicles moving forward.”
Lovely. Remind me again what type of car we’re talking about again?
The company has confirmed that the all-new NSX will be powered by a mid-mounted, direct-injected V-6 engine mated to Honda’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) system, that combines torque vectoring all-wheel drive with advanced hybrid efficiency through the use of three electric motors – one motor integrated with the V-6 engine and two motors driving the front wheels – along with an all-new dual-clutch transmission (DCT).
Honda say the system enables instant delivery of negative or positive torque to the front wheels during cornering to achieve a new level of driving performance unparalleled by current AWD systems.
I can’t say I’m especially lusting after such a clinical sounding powertrain, but I’m curious to find out more, trouble is the NSX isn’t due until 2015, so don’t expect much in the way of engineering minutiae until sometime in 2014.
Anyway, perhaps we’re just supposed to be looking at the pictures, of which I have nothing but praise.