Why can’t it do that? The mass is part of it, but ultimately the NSX gets its priorities wrong. It’s as if its American designers set out to create the most impressive car they could, one in which the driver could witness with awe the talent and technology on display. And, best of all, it would ask for nothing in return. Sit back, hold this, press that and enjoy the show. You will be amazed.
Well, maybe. But you won’t be involved, let alone enthralled. Driving isn’t a spectator sport and your car shouldn’t seat you in the audience. It’s not even enough that you should get to direct the action. Driving should be a two-hander between two actors, you and your car, with the road as your stage. That’s it. Anything that get in the way of that, be it excess weight, over-reliance on electronic control systems or a lack of feel in the steering or brakes, gets in the way of your driving pleasure.
That isn’t to say there’s no future for hybrid supercars, just that they need to be done a different way. To be honest, BMW tried far harder and achieved far more with the i8. You could plug it in, you could go 10 times as far in silence (at least), it had rear seats (of a sort), it sounded just as good on three cylinders as the NSX does on six and it had a carbonfibre tub, which is why it was also phenomenally light for a hybrid supercar – 235kg lighter than the NSX, no less. Yes, the Honda has more power, but that’s the easy bit.
The post-modern supercar I would like to see has two seats and a 2.4-litre twin-turbo V6 with an electric motor between it and the gearbox, directing an easily achieved 500bhp through the rear wheels alone. It has a carbonfibre tub, aluminium panels and lots of luggage space up front (because there are no motors to get in the way) and weighs less than 1500kg. It’s less potent than the NSX but has a better power-to-weight ratio. And I don’t think it’s a fantasy, either; I think it’s achievable today.
Will anyone do it? Who knows. But until someone finds a way to keep weight in hand and resists the urge to go overboard with electronics, the idea of the hybrid supercar will still be far more attractive on paper than it turns out to be on the road – as the NSX continues to show all too well.
Is downsizing the way forward?