Sunday, February 10, 2019

Happy 30th Birthday, Honda NSX (w/ 25 Photos, Video)


Honda is marking 30 years since the debut of the first-generation 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-aluminum 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.



Since its debut, NSX has made an indelible impression on the exotic and supercar world. Its all-aluminum construction and 270-horsepower 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.

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 the 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.

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 Acura NSX began in the fall of 1985.

The prototype NS-X Concept introduced at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show 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/Acura Legend sedan, to the production NSX’s bespoke DOHC V6 with VTEC valvetrain.

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.



New technology like the all-aluminum 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 percent.

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.

Like its predecessor, today’s second-generation NSX incorporates groundbreaking technology. The current Honda NSX utilizes 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. Together with the Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive System, the NSX features a multi-material space frame body—all paying homage to the groundbreaking nature of the original while exploring new concepts in electrified supercar performance.

No comments:

Post a Comment