I’ve been a huge fan of the modern day Honda NSX since I first saw Tony Stark driving one on the first Avengers movie. Alright, that was the concept for the yet-to-be-announced Roadster version but the impact was there. Here was a modern day interpretation of a mid-engine Japanese supercar for a new generation in the 21st Century.
A few years later I got to drive the production version on some great Japanese roads. I immediately fell in love with it and likened it to the driving experience of a McLaren 570S. It was a win-win situation but that was two years ago. Since then I haven’t seen too many of Honda’s supercar on the road and that’s a shame.
I love this car and I will defend it like a stray puppy so when Honda Japan kindly said they had the updated 2020 version for me to test I jumped at the chance to see what’s changed with one of my favourite supercars on the market today.
Here are some things I liked and didn’t like about the updated 2020 Honda NSX.
Five Things I Liked About The 2020 Honda NSX
Hybrid powertrain still packs a decent punch
Honda hasn’t changed the power, because why fix something that isn’t broke right? Power still comes from a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 engine mated to a pair of electric motors up front and an addition electric motor at the rear giving a combined 427kW and 646NM of torque. That equates to 0-100 km/h in “under 3 seconds” and a top speed of 305 km/h. Turn the Drive Mode selector to Sport and above and this thing slingshots you into the distance like no Honda has any right to do. It’s not quite as brutal in its acceleration as some of its rivals but it’s certainly more refined than say a NISMO GT-R. Some have criticised the NSX for unnecessarily being a hybrid but like many great cars it was just ahead of its time. It’s a generation ahead of Ferrari and McLaren, who’s next entry-level mid-engine supercars will undoubtedly adopt hybrid technology too. Honda was just thinking ahead. Sounds alright too, for a hybrid.
Handles as well as a McLaren
No, it really does. I’d say it’s about 95% the driving experience of a 570S without the unreliability, it’s that last 5% where the Mac’s more natural steering feel and greater sense of excitement edges the NSX out a tad. But that’s not to say the NSX isn’t capable because it truly is a phenomenal car. It might lack the drama of its more powerful (and more expensive) rivals but there’s no denying the NSX’s capabilities. The turn in is crisp and sharp, making it one of the most balanced supercars I’ve driven. The chassis is neutral and predictable giving you all the confidence to push it as far as you dare. The car’s limits are so high they’re beyond the reach of most drivers so in the real world you’ll get little to no understeer and oversteer only happens when you’re being foolish with the the throttle pedal. The NSX hides its 1745kg weight well, it’s as nimble as cars weighing much but also being completely planted and predictable. This is a car that like to be thrown around on your favourite road like a rag doll.
For 2019 Honda gets stiffened stabiliser bars (26% up front and 19% at the rear), recalibrated software for the ESP and hybrid system, tweaked dampers for Quiet mode, uprated injectors, improved turbo heat management, and new Continental SportContact 6 tyres. All these changes made the 2020 NSX feel, as good as the old car if I’m being perfectly honest. You’d need to drive both back to back to notice any difference but the takeaway here is the NSX still handles as well as it did before. More importantly it still has the fun factor the old car did. It always left me smiling.
New Indy Yellow colour looks the part
The NSX looks the business. I’d say its one of the best looking designs in this segment, certainly one of the most interesting. In 2019 Honda added the Thermal Orange paint which gave the NSX a much needed splash of ‘look at me colour’. New for 2020 is this Indy Yellow Pearl paint, which to my eyes, is the best colour for the new NSX. It just makes it look even more exotic than it already does. This turns the NSX into a proper head turner. I’ll never tire of driving around in low, sleek, modern looking design like this finished in an eye-catching yellow paint job and confusing people when they see the Honda badge up front.
Perfectly usable supercar
The term ‘daily drivable supercar’ gets thrown around so much these days but with the exception of the Audi R8 there really aren’t many other examples. That is, except for this. The Honda NSX is a supercar you could truly use everyday. It’s easy to get in and out of, easy to park, it’s not too low that it’ll scrape every time you take into a car park. Honda are so confident with the ride height they don’t even bother offering a front axle lift option. It’s also easy to see out of it and there’s ample space inside for you and a passenger. It’s also relatively comfortable, if slightly on the firmer side of things. I was able to put 1000km on this car and not once did I feel like the ride was too harsh or did I arrive at a destination feeling exhausted. The best thing is for all its crazy performance and predictable handling, Honda claims it’ll return around 10.3L/100km. During my time with it I got closer to 10.5L/100km which isn’t bad at all for a car like this.
You’re unlikely to see another on the road
One of the reasons I believe the NSX hasn’t done as well as it should’ve is due to the badge. Let’s be honest here, most people who buy supercars do it to show off. They don’t really care about the technical or engineering wizardry that happens behind the scenes, they just want a car to show off in at their local cars and coffee meet. The NSX with its Honda badge isn’t going to score social brownie points like a Lamborghini or Ferrari. However, ironically, since the NSX isn’t selling as many of them it’s now a rarer sight on the road than a Huracan or 488. So if you want to stand out from the crowd, get a NSX.
Five Things I Didn’t Like About The 2020 Honda NSX
Why doesn’t it have automatic wipers?
No, really why doesn’t a supposedly state-of-the-art $300,000+ supercar in 2020 not have automatic wipers? It’s very annoying having to manually adjust the wiper speed. First world problems, I know.
Interior isn’t fit for a car in this price range.
Personally I had no qualms with the NSX’s interior. It worked well as an interior and there’s nice materials used throughout. But I can understand why some people would be disappointed stepping inside this interior after paying $300,000+ for the privilege. There’s a lot of switchgear you’d find in a Jazz or Civic but then again there’s a lot of switchgear in Lamborghinis you’d find in a Polo or Golf. Anyway, the interior works as an interior and there’s nothing extremely offensive about it to my eyes. The infotainment is quite weak but as long as you plug in your phone and use Apple CarPlay that silly infotainment system becomes irrelevant.
There’s no way of opening the boot from the outside
You have to open it either from the key fob or from inside the car. What’s the point of having key less entry if I have to take the key out every time I want to open the boot. It’s the little things you know? Also, even when you do open it, it gets so hot inside you can’t carry ice cream there. That’s not good.
Wing mirrors don’t fold automatically
This isn’t a problem if you live in a place with wide parking spaces. But if you were to daily drive this in Japan with their narrow parking spots, it’s just not very cool having to manually fold in your mirrors every time you park up and then remembering to fold them out before setting off. I’m not sure why Honda couldn’t make them power operated.
The price won’t be to everyone’s liking
Prices for the NSX in Japan start from ¥24,200,000 or the equivalent of $348,000. My test car came to a total of ¥27,720,000 or the equivalent of $399,000 with the options fitted such as the Indy Yellow Pearl paint, carbon ceramic brakes, and carbon fibre trim. Not everyone is going to be able to justify that price tag, even I’m struggling and I adore this car. I can’t help but think how much better the NSX would’ve done if it was priced to compete with the Porsche 911 instead of the R8 and 570S. If prices started below the ¥20m/$300k mark, that’d help its cause as the affordable hybrid supercar so much more.
I can’t think of many cars that are as misunderstood and underrated as the Honda NSX. It’s a truly fabulous car that might not have the showroom appeal of a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or McLaren but is just as capable as them on a track or mountain road, if not as dramatic. Not to mention beats them out on the daily front. It’s an interesting car for sure and one for those who don’t want to be “just another guy with a Ferrari/Lambo/McLaren/Porsche”. I like those people.