We review the Honda NSX – the real F1 car for the road

It’s one of the most overused expressions in motoring journalism: ‘It’s like an F1 car for the road.’

Used to describe just about any new model with more horse power than the Grand National and a price that’s on a par with a modest-sized property, it’s an easy – and fairly lazy – link to make.

Nevertheless, here I am using that very same cliche. And I’m not even sorry.

That’s because Honda’s NSX is – in my opinion – the closest road-going representation of the racers currently being piloted by the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel that you, in theory, can buy from a showroom right now. But should you?

F1 for the road: The Honda NSX is one of the most forward-thinking supercars of the moment, being one of the few to adopt hybrid performance in the sub-£200,000 market. So does electrification hinder or heighten its appeal? The NSX isn't cheap. While it costs £149,950 basic, the example we tested tallied in at just over £180,000 - that's Ferrari 488 and McLaren 570S territory  The high-spec NSX we drove is about the same price as a front wing and nose cone for Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes W09 F1 car The first allocation of 100 cars sold out within a year of becoming available. If you want one, the waiting list is 12 months F1 has moved into a new era of hybrid powertrains, which has not been to all tastes - especially enthusiasts begging for V8 and V10 motors as used in the past Like Formula One, the NSX uses a hybrid V6 powertrain, though the petrol engine is more than twice the size as those being raced in the 2018 season Under the bonnet of the NSX is a phenomenal computer than decides when petrol power is used, when electric propulsion takes over and when best to combine the two to produce stunning performance The computer also decides how much power is being sent to each wheel to ensure the NSX corners at optimum speeds With all this technology crammed into one car, you might think it could become overly complex. But the system is so seamless that you'll barely know when it's swapping through drive modes NSX is a name that carries serious weight, thanks to the original Honda supercar that went out of production 13 years ago The electric battery source, when driving in town at low speeds, can last for between one and two miles before the V6 petrol engine has to kick in Not many supercars on the market today can glide through town without emitting a single pollutant and then thrash through the countryside at apoplectic pace One let down is the interior quality. It feels more like a subdued Civic than an exotic supercar in places, especially the infotainment system Ride quality - even by supercar standards - is harsh. Tuned on silky US highways, you'll feel just about every foible in the British tarmac  The NSX is proof that electrification can not only help the planet but also be put to loutish good use Deputy Motoring Editor Rob Hull (right) gave the Honda an unwavering thumbs up verdict Fewer cars can corner as fast as the NSX, and that's mainly thanks to the technology that helps you navigate every bend. However, it's the Honda's knack of massaging your driving ability that makes it a winner in our minds Fewer cars can corner as fast as the NSX, and that's mainly thanks to the technology that helps you navigate every bend. However, it's the Honda's knack of massaging your driving ability that makes it a winner in our minds

Fewer cars can corner as fast as the NSX, and that’s mainly thanks to the technology that helps you navigate every bend. However, it’s the Honda’s knack of massaging your driving ability that makes it a winner in our minds

The Cars & Motoring verdict 

Like with the changing direction of F1, many will fear the arrival of hybrid technology in the most mighty of performance powertrains, but the NSX is a stark reminder that electrification isn’t just about curbing pollution – in cases like this it can be put to loutishly good use.

How the NSX has developed from the original model (which went out of production in 2005) to what it is now has in part been forced by the demands for technology that have emerged since Honda last supplied us with a supercar.

But the Japanese brand has refused to be strangled by these advances. Instead, it has triumphed by exploiting the arsenal of new weaponry it had to utilise and created a model that feels as special at 5mph in electric mode as it does at 185mph with the V6 singing at full chorus.

If you can afford it should you buy one instead of a Ferrari or McLaren? Plenty will argue not. But I guarantee that if you do choose the NSX, each time you get out of it you’ll marvel at how it just took you on that journey, no matter what speed it was travelled at.

HONDA NSX: FACTS AND FIGURES 

Basic price: £149,950

Price on test: £180,250

Optional extras: Andaro Paint (£4,800), Carbon Fibre Exterior Sport Pack (£7,100), Carbon Fibre Engine Cover (£2,900), Carbon Ceramic brakes (£8,400), Carbon Fibre Interior pack (£2,300), Garmin Nav (£1,700), Heated power adjustable sports seats (£2,000), Alcantara headlining (£1,100)

Engine: Twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 petrol

Power unit: Front twin motors, rear direct drive motor

Maximum power: 573bhp  

Top speed: 191mph

0-62mph: 3.3 seconds* 

Transmission: 9 speed semi automatic 

Length: 4,487mm

Width: 2,217mm (including mirrors)

Height: 1,204mm

Wheelbase: 2,630mm

Kerb weight: 1,776kg – 1,814kg 

Seats: 2

Fuel tank: 59 litres

Fuel economy: 24mpg

CO2 emissions: 228g/km

*not official, as tested by Autocar 

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