Automotive

Honda reveals some of the magic behind the NSX's aero package

Honda reveals some of the magi...
The Honda NSX has been designed to channel the air without the need for wings and spoilers
The Honda NSX has been designed to channel the air without the need for wings and spoilers
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Keeping the NSX cool is the work of a complex set of radiators and heat exchangers
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Keeping the NSX cool is the work of a complex set of radiators and heat exchangers
The Honda NSX has been designed to channel the air without the need for wings and spoilers
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The Honda NSX has been designed to channel the air without the need for wings and spoilers
An idea of the way air flows around the NSX
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An idea of the way air flows around the NSX
The NSX's complex web of components revealed
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The NSX's complex web of components revealed
The Honda NSX at its launch in Detroit
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The Honda NSX at its launch in Detroit
The cooling on the NSX is seriously impressive
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The cooling on the NSX is seriously impressive
The NSX has coolers for the engine, transmission and power management unit in the front end
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The NSX has coolers for the engine, transmission and power management unit in the front end
The NSX is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 hybrid
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The NSX is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 hybrid
The NSX at launch in Detroit
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The NSX at launch in Detroit
The Honda NSX being put together
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The Honda NSX being put together
The NSX suffered a long and complex gestation period, but it's finally ready for consumers
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The NSX suffered a long and complex gestation period, but it's finally ready for consumers
Part of the NSX's fiendishly complex power delivery system
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Part of the NSX's fiendishly complex power delivery system
The NSX under construction
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The NSX under construction
The heart of the NSX is a twin-turbocharged V6
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The heart of the NSX is a twin-turbocharged V6

Big spoilers and splitters might look cool, but they're no longer the smartest way to shuffle the air around a supercar. Thanks to clever computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing, manufacturers are able to use intricate shapes and flics to manipulate the air, creating downforce and cooling without having to ruin the purity of a car's shape.

It's why the LaFerrari can create enough downforce to avoid taking off, without having a boy-racer rear wing. It's also how the new Honda NSX keeps its wheels on the ground, and its complex twin-turbo V6 and hybrid system cool on the move. Labeled Total Airflow Management, the NSX's exterior has been shaped to carefully balance drag, downforce and cooling.

When it comes to downforce, one of the biggest challenges faced by Honda's engineers was balancing the amount over each axle.

To make sure there's about three times more downforce over the rear axle than the front, the rear diffuser works in tandem with a subtle rear spoiler and slots in the taillights to smooth out the car's wake. While some brands have turned to active aero with moving wings and motorized panels, Honda is keen to point out the fact it's managed to achieve the desired outcome with a standard passive aerodynamics setup.

An idea of the way air flows around the NSX
An idea of the way air flows around the NSX

Vents around the front wheels work in tandem with venting in the flanks to make sure air flowing along the side of the car finds its way into the mid-mounted air intake, where it is then directed over the rear deck to to create more downforce.

Of course, there's more to aero than just downforce. The NSX has a fiendishly complex hybrid system working in tandem with its twin-turbocharged V6, which puts its power to the road through a nine-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Each of these components is made up of individual pieces that need to be cooled, like the turbochargers within the engine, and the two electric motors within the twin motor unit.

All of those components rely heavily on cooling from the broad front air intakes. Honda has squeezed all the key heat exchangers in behind the front bumper, which means cool air flowing through those big air intakes is distributed among radiators for the engine, a cooler for the twin-electric motors, a condenser and cooling for the gears. Meanwhile, air whipping down the rear hatch cools the clutch and engine bay.

The NSX's complex web of components revealed
The NSX's complex web of components revealed

"In many ways, with the design of the all-new Honda NSX, you literally have form following function, so this was a really exciting vehicle to work on as an aerodynamicist," says Thomas Ramsay, Aerodynamics and Cooling Project Leader on the NSX project.

"To meet the challenge of the ambitious performance targets, innovative packaging design and dramatic styling, Honda's engineers had to totally re-imagine the exterior engineering for this modern supercar," he continues. "This new 'total airflow management' strategy supports component cooling and aerodynamic performance while also contributing to even more dynamic styling."

Check out the video below for more on how the NSX's aero works.

Source: Honda Europe

NSX Total Airflow Management Concept

2 comments
christopher
Totally bogus. Drawing CGI blue lines is not CFD. If you move air down (the back of the roof); it makes lift. Lift is not "downforce". You can't move the underside air "up" like the pretty picture - what takes it's place below? A vacuum? They made something look cool, then made up untrue CFD stories to improve sales, that's all.
Harry Bolman
Christopher, I suggest you watch the video closely, as it shows the correct path of the air past the vehicle. The photo does not.