Honda gives a look under the new NSX's skin
The original Honda NSX won the hearts of the world's motoring press by wrapping a sweet chassis and Ferrari-aping performance up in a reliable package. So when, after a long gestation period, the new NSX was unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show, it's fair to say we were a little bit excited. Honda has now given a more detailed look under the skin of its high-tech flagship.
Honda has decided that, as a modern supercar the new NSX needs to be powered by an appropriately modern hybrid setup. At the center of this new powertrain is a longitudinally-mounted 3.5-liter V6 engine, which takes advantage of a broad 75-degree "V" and dry sump for a lower center of gravity.
This petrol motor is combined with three electric motors, designed to boost the petrol motor's output and fuel efficiency. The first electric motor is mounted directly to the crankshaft and works with the car's 9-speed dual-clutch gearbox to provide instant torque to the rear wheels, boosting the engine's outputs and filling in any potential torque holes created by turbocharging.
Backing up the crankshaft-mounted motor are two front-mounted motors, which are integral to the NSX's all-wheel drive (officially called Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, if you ask Honda) system. The fast-responding, front-mounted electric motors mean the NSX is able to offer torque vectoring, allowing the car to send or cut torque to individual wheels from very low speeds. Honda also claims it has managed to design a double-lower control arm suspension system that decouples the electric motors from the steering system, allowing uncorrupted driver feedback.
If you think that sounds like a lot of hot, tricky components packed into a small body, you'd be right. It's not surprising, then, that Honda has put a lot of effort into cooling the NSX's power unit. In the NSX, 10 individual heat exchangers are responsible for cooling the car's powertrain, with three individual radiators for the V6 alone. The central radiator has been angled forward by 25 degrees to help keep the center of gravity low.
Surrounding the NSX's high-tech powertrain setup is a new multi-material body that is heavy on the aluminum for a light kerb weight. The original NSX used an all-aluminum spaceframe, an idea that has been modernized with the addition of ultra-high strength steel and a carbon fiber floor for a stiff, light structure. Also contributing to this extra-stiff body is the use of ablation casting, a process designed to combat the brittle nature of traditional castings by combining traditional casting methods with rapid cooling techniques.
Honda claims that this process allows it to use ablation cast pieces in the car's crumple zones and crash structures, as well as allowing shorter stitch welds for less heat deformation in production.
Sticking the NSX to the road is a complex aerodynamics package, which has been set up to create six vortices at the rear of the car, including one that flows from beneath the car and out through the diffuser, sucking the NSX onto the road.
The new NSX is expected to retail for between US$150,000 and $160,000.