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Top Gear Review of the NSX we DO NOT get in the USA - NSX Type-R

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Top Gear Review of the NSX we DO NOT get in the USA - NSX Type-R

 
Old 12-27-2003, 08:14 PM
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Top Gear Review of the NSX we DO NOT get in the USA - NSX Type-R





Road test


Honda - NSX Type-R
[December 22 2003]








The first time we come to the mountain road, the sun most definitely does not have his hat on. Reaching out through the open car window to pay the tollbooth operator, the November air has a real bite to it. There's a dirty great black raven sitting on the Armco. It's got a beak about three inches long. If that flew into the cabin...

So get the window up quick and set the wide tyres rolling across the cold, greasy tarmac. Better have the lights on too. This cloud cover is low, corners white out mid apex without warning. We are operating well outside the comfort zone today. Yet we are in the most user-friendly supercar ever. Japan's first and really only supercar, the mid-engined aluminium-bodied NSX, arrived in 1990. Signed-off by Ayrton Senna, it was capable of wiping the floor with Ferrari's finest. Even in the hands of mortals.

No car lasts forever and 13 years is an awful long time for any modern one to be around. So surely the end of the NSX must be nigh? Indeed, last month we brought you a story on Honda's HSC Tokyo showcar, which strongly hints at how the all-new NSX might look But for now this £70,000 NSX-R is the most hard-core Honda road car yet. Power, from the 3.2-litre V6, is up from 280bhp to just under 300bhp. Weight is down from 1,445kg to 1,270kg. Both the bonnet and rear spoiler are carbon-fibre. The wheels weigh less, the battery is smaller and the rear glass is thinner. Even the carpets are lighter. Other stuff has just been chucked. Interior boot switch, electric mirrors, bulkhead insulation, traction control - who needs 'em?

So, what we're left with, on this most drizzly of days, on what seems to pass for Japan's equivalent of the N?rburgring, is the lightest, most powerful NSX ever built, minus traction control. Oh, and it's riding on harder, more edgy suspension than before. Did I mention that? But I don't care. Let them come. Let them bring their 360s and their 911 Turbos and their mad 900bhp Skylines. Nothing, but nothing, is going up and down this mountain today as fast as this NSX-R. And that, is a promise.

Ah, the old ones are the best ones, are they not? Yes, you've sussed it. I'm safely tucked up in the passenger Recaro carbon-fibre bucket seat. The man behind the Momo steering wheel reaching for the titanium gear lever and preparing to attack the mountain is Takuma Sato...













Takuma Sato. Born in Tokyo on January 28, 1977. Japanese Karting Champion 1997; Macau F3 Grand Prix winner 1999; British F3 Champion 2001; F1 Jordan Grand Prix driver 2002; BAR Honda test driver 2003 - stepping in at the end of the season to fill Jacques Villneuve's vacated racing boots and fill them well, finishing sixth at Suzuka. For 2004 he's signed up for the full season with BAR alongside Jenson Button.

Takuma Sato. He's a bit of a driver then. Even so, as we move off I'm worried. Not worried that he's going to stuff if. I doubt he'd do that in a million years. Anyway, since Antonio Pizzonia nearly wiped out two guys from Autocar in a Jaguar S-Type, every young F1 driver must have had it drummed into them: 'Don't... Kill... The... Media'. No, I'm just worried he's going to get bored.

If he is, he's doing a good job of hiding it. Actually he says he doesn't get bored on pr things as long as there's something to drive. His eyes even light up with enthusiasm when I ask him about Ayrton Senna. It's a little bit of a cheap question, because I know Senna is his big hero. But it is valid, Senna really was involved with this car; just turn to page 290.

Taku recalls the first time he ever saw a motor race. "1987 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Ayrton Senna. I watched him start from seventh and come up to second. Even to a 10-year-old boy it looked so good, something special". But he's careful, under no illusions, drawing no comparisons. "Ayrton is Ayrton. One of the biggest drivers. I am not Ayrton".

True. But he does like to attack, does he not? Another smile, and a laugh this time. "Always. Always flat out. But you have to improve you know. It's not allowed, too much flat out. The beginning of last year I was flat out all the time; too much commitment. But then I learnt a little bit to back off, not necessarily to be slower, but just to relax and it's going better now, more flowing".

Right now we are getting a demonstration of all three: relaxed, flowing and flat out. That V6 gets worked far into the red zone. The front inside Bridgestone gets punted deep into the corner. Strictly speaking, Taku, I think it should be the other side of that white line, but never mind there must be, oh, at least a couple of inches of cloud between the headlamp bubble and the Armco.

It's perfect. Of course it is. Although the Momo steering wheel is getting a bit of a work out and there seems to be a fair bit of kickback to contend with. Taku says he's operating at about 60 to 70 per cent of his abilities. It looks more like only 40 per cent to me.






What's it like though, driving a Formula One car, where anything less than 100 per cent simply will not do? Even then there can be no guarantees. Something can always go wrong. Like when Nick Heidfield's Sauber slammed backwards - as in gearbox then engine first - into the side of Sato's Jordan during the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix. At 170mph. Surely such a massive impact must rattle you to the core?

"No", comes the reply "Nothing at all. I was in one piece. I was very pleased. OK, I was a little bit worried because the week after I had to do the Monaco Grand Prix. But that kind of worry is just a waste of time. One lap in, no problem".

So he never gets scared then? Ever? Only, he says, when he can't predict the immediate future. "For example, if you were driving a little 600cc car, but racing in the dark and you don't know which way to go, I would be scared. But if you are totally in control in the F1 car, if you go over 300k with 5.1g, it's no problem."

Ho, hum. Back then to the mundane world of mere mid-engined supercars. Has Taku any thoughts on how the NSX should be next time around, baring in mind he may well be involved with it? "Obviously more power would be nice. But it is not so important all the time. The feeling, the balance and the handling are more important. If you put in a bigger engine you may go quicker, but it may not be more fun to drive".

The way the NSX feels to drive, the way it truly involves the driver, that, explains Taku, is the real magic. Next time around he'd suggest a few fundamental changes, to move the game along, such as lowering the engine for a lower centre of gravity and maybe an F1-style gearbox. All that's for the future, though. We've still got a bit of time left with this NSX-R, now that we've got it out of Taku's hands. It still feels a bit special even just to be close to it, even after all this time. It still turns plenty of heads too. Even in downtown Tokyo. It practically looks retro now with that cab-forward, long-tail Le Mans look. It feels like we could be photographing it for a classic car mag. That slightly cream Championship White paint only adds to the feeling of something from an earlier era.

It's the same when you step inside, a brief blip, a tiny little trip back in time. Nothing dramatic you understand and certainly nothing unpleasant. Far from it, the carbon-fibre seats are fantastic and if the Momo steering wheel and black instruments with yellow needles don't get you in the mood to drive, nothing will.







Well, actually, the V6 engine will. Everybody and their dog might make engines with variable valve timing these days. But nobody gets them to sound like this. Ignore the final change-up warning light - just for a split second, just for a few hundred rpm more - and take the needle up to the 8,000rpm red line and the cry from behind your ears strengthens the sinews and sharpens the synapses.

It's 13 years old and still it can do this. It's like The Pistols' Anarchy In The UK or I Fought The Law by The Clash. Still the anger and energy boil through. But fantastic though those records still sound, they are just a little slow if compared with the latest thrash metal. Despite its lightness, extra power and sharper throttle response, the NSX-R feels 'only' seriously fast - not truly ballistic. Admittedly the 0-60mph time is down from 5.7secs to 5.0secs, but these days you need to shave another second off that to join the real speed metal club.

Yet when you feel the limited-slip diff squirm on a wet road, it feels plenty fast. And the acceleration is virtually uninterrupted, so fast, so slick is the change from the manual six-speed 'box. They've tweaked the brakes too, with stronger pads, retuned ABS and superb pedal feel.

The other day I heard a former RAF pilot explaining that even when you fly a jet fighter in a straight line with nothing to worry about - a serene experience way up in the wild blue yonder, you might think - it still feels like bouncing around on the floor of a fishing trawler in a force 10. The NSX-R isn't quite that bad. But every grain of tarmac registers.

When we come back to the mountain road after having spent all night driving, there are no worries, this is one car more than capable of waking you up. In truth, the whole chassis set-up feels slightly more oriented towards smooth racetrack work than this sort of carry on. Yet the NSX-R tames the road, hammers it into submission. And it really does hammer it, for the rock-hard suspension allows for no serene, soak-it-all-up, experience. Every metre of progress feels hard fought, every mid-corner bump kicked back through the steering wheel.

So if the sun is about to set on this generation of NSX. If it turns out that the R really is the final incarnation, then, to plagiarise Dylan Thomas, it does not go gently into that dark night.
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Old 12-27-2003, 09:15 PM
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Let them come. Let them bring their 360s and their 911 Turbos and their mad 900bhp Skylines. Nothing, but nothing, is going up and down this mountain today as fast as this NSX-R. And that, is a promise.





too bad we don't get it.
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Old 12-27-2003, 10:40 PM
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this really makes you appreciate the "refined"ness of the nsx
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Old 12-27-2003, 11:00 PM
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Old 12-28-2003, 06:00 AM
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It's so dreamy...........
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Old 12-28-2003, 08:25 AM
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Originally posted by heyitsme
topgear video nsxr
http://www.runeb.org/www_docs/Jexoti...onda-NSX-R.mpg
Is it me or did that vid cut at just over 1:14? I tried twice and it seems to end right in the middle of it.
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Old 12-28-2003, 09:13 AM
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i want one
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Old 12-28-2003, 09:33 AM
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A coworker has a black NSX 5 speed 270 HP comptech headers and nice rims etc...

man I barely can take a ramp at 40 MPH... the NSX will just fly at 60-70 MHP without being phased!!

nashua.
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Old 12-28-2003, 12:16 PM
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its 2:25
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Old 12-28-2003, 01:02 PM
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sweet bjesus that is a vtec beast
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Old 12-28-2003, 01:26 PM
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Nice vid & article. Damn shame we can't get that car here.
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Old 12-28-2003, 07:37 PM
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i luv the nsx and i will not lie...
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Old 12-28-2003, 07:55 PM
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Originally posted by Python2121
this really makes you appreciate the "refined"ness of the nsx

You mean...refinement?
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Old 12-28-2003, 07:57 PM
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This is an article from Evo mag from Nov 2002



NSX Type-R Rethink


Honda UK is rethinking its stance on the NSX Type-R and is on the verge of officially importing a limited run for diehard NSX fans. Initially it was thought that the market was too small, but unexpected demand for the facelifted car and overwhelmingly positive reaction from the press has persuaded Honda to reassess the ultimate Type-R.
An NSX-R will soon be tested on UK roads to determine its suitability for Britain's unique conditions. A couple of evo staffers drove the original and say that if the new car is anything like as good, it could eclipse even the 911 C4S. We'll keep you posted on Honda's decision and how much the very exclusive NSX-R will cost. Keep your fingers crossed.

Source: Autoexpress
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Old 12-28-2003, 07:58 PM
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This is from the same mag a year later



NSX-R Go-ahead?


Honda has still not committed to bringing the NSX-R into the UK but the decision is getting closer and it looks set to get the go-ahead soon. Even so, the first cars won't arrive until 2004 and then only in very limited numbers. Honda UK expects the NSX-R to cost £10,000 more than a regular NSX, which is currently £59,995.

Source: Autoexpress
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Old 12-28-2003, 08:00 PM
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From Autoexpress on June 2003:

NSX Earns Stay Of Execution


Fans of Honda's NSX will be relieved to learn the company has granted the ageing supercar a stay of execution until 2005.

Its longer life means there could be a limited-edition version, with the current 3.2-litre V6 VTEC rebored to 3.5 litres - increasing the output to 330bhp. The model could also offer Type R concept-style bodywork, as well as a mildly revised interior.
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Old 12-28-2003, 08:02 PM
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From an article on July 2002



Ultimate Type R


Honda has launched the ultimate Type-R in Japan but it looks unlikely to come to the UK. Featuring substantial suspension and engine mods, plus a markedly lower weight, the new NSX-R is aimed squarely at the hardcore driver and would be a great trackday tool. However, production will be limited to just 50 cars a year, hence the decision not to bring it to the UK.

With carbonfibre for the bonnet, front spoiler, rear diffuser and unique hollow rear spoiler plus thinner glass and reduced sound-deadening material, weight has been cut by a significant 140kg from 1410kg to 1270kg. The aerodynamic devices also introduce downforce at high speed to aid stability. The car's genesis included an intense development programme at the Nürburgring and Honda is confident that the new model surpasses the old NSX-R (made between '92-'95 for the domestic market) in every way.

Honda claims that the NSX-R still produces 276bhp although the precision balanced crankshaft, pistons and connecting rods, and reduced internal friction suggest otherwise. The final drive ratio is also shortened in the quest for ultimate performance. If you want one, contact a reputable importer now.

Source: Autoexpress
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Old 12-28-2003, 08:05 PM
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Article from Autoexpress on July 2002





Honda NSX Type R
By Gavin Ward

If Honda's Type R magic can turn the Civic from a sensible family model into one of the most desired hot hatches around, imagine what it can do to a supercar. Until now, this has had to remain a fantasy, as the NSX Type R has never been sold officially here. But Honda UK bosses have finally changed their minds.

A 20 per cent price premium over the £59,995 NSX will get you a car that's 120kg lighter than the standard model's 1,390kg. This reduction is partly due to the extensive use of carbon fibre on the bonnet, front and rear spoilers, while the cabin gets much of the same treatment. Honda's engineers have even fitted thinner glass and taken out some of the insulation to lighten the load. The result makes a standard NSX feel dull - the Type R is so much more direct and purposeful on the road. Stiffened suspension and new alloy wheels shod with specially designed tyres all play a part, while the 16-inch racing brakes keep the car on the road. Some tinkering with the 3.2-litre V6 to make it faster-revving and the complete lack of soundproofing also give the NSX a great engine note.


Verdict:

This is the ultimate NSX - and it doesn't even have a power boost. Only 100 or so a year will be built, so exclusivity is guaranteed, too.

* NSX Type R priced £72,000 (est)


* Modified 3.2-litre V6 produces 280bhp. Six-speed manual box


* Covers 0-60mph sprint in 4.4 seconds; top speed of 168mph

Source: Autoexpress
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Old 12-28-2003, 08:07 PM
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Originally posted by heyitsme
topgear video nsxr
http://www.runeb.org/www_docs/Jexoti...onda-NSX-R.mpg
thanks
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Old 12-28-2003, 10:47 PM
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wow 0-60 in 4.4...nice!...however, the reg nsx tops out at 172...did they change the gearing or something 4 the nsx-r?
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Old 01-03-2004, 02:55 PM
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The old nsx body style could do 168mph and the new more aero dynamic nsx can do about 175mph. The NSX-R should be a bit more aero dynamic with its front hood air scoop, but I think they shortened the gearing so it maybe less.
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