The fastest car in Honda’s portfolio has become a slow burn for New Zealand introduction.
KIWIS hanging out to experience the reborn NSX are going to have to head overseas to satisfy that desire.
Strong demand for this stunning showcase of technology that performs – and prices – in supercar territory has kyboshed Honda New Zealand’s hope of having the 300kmh all-wheel-drive hybrid two-seater here this year.
As things stand, there’s no guarantee the brand halo whose global production runs to just 1400 units a year will come on sale in 2017, either.
Because of this, the Auckland-based distributor has admitted that it is acting to defuse the interest that has been building up here, telling its dealers not to accept orders or down payments. Likewise, decisions about how the car will be sold, and for how much, is also on ice.
The brand’s disappointment is palpable – just recently it briefed local media on its hope to have the car here this year. However, since then demand has escalated: In North America, alone, there is already a two year waiting list.
What doesn’t make life any easier is that NSX has just released in Australia. Honda NZ is doubtless aware our neighbour’s A-list status is creating publicity that will doubtless add fuel to interest here.
Honda NZ general manager of marketing, Nadine Bell, says she wishes she had more answers for the local client base but, at the moment, she has little to say apart from offering an assurance that her office is working as hard as it can to find a resolution.
She says NZ is simply a victim of global demand.
“It’s delayed due to that. We’re working on trying to establish a new launch time frame and our managing director is dealing with that.
“We have had quite a number of customers express interest and what we have done is to discourage dealers from taking orders and deposits until we can be more specific around a launch time.”
But when the car will come is very open-ended. “All I can say is that it won’t be 2016 … it’s definitely not this year.
“Originally we had confirmed that we expected to launch in 2016. That changed due to demand, basically. You can appreciate that the size of our market versus the size of other markets around the world … there are challenges for us.”
So what about 2017? “I’d love it to be, but I cannot comment … I don’t want to say it’s 2017 if it turns out not to be.
“All I can say is that we are working as hard as we can to get the car as soon as we can, because we appreciate it is something special and will be very good for the brand in New Zealand.”
The sales and service requirements of the tech-laden supercar are such that the factory appears to insist on an accreditation process – as result there are just five franchises in Australia, spread around the major cities.
It seems possible that Honda NZ might well sell the car from just one national location, almost certainly in Auckland, as it did with the previous car, which ended sale more than 12 years ago.
Bell says no decisions about appointing a dealer have been made. “We haven’t even got close.”
Australia has launched for the equivalent of $440,000 of today’s dollar rate, right up there with a Lamborghini Huracan in that market and dearer than the Audi R8 V10 Plus, the Bentley Continental GT V8 and the Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo.
NSX is just as exclusive in its build process, too. It is rendered from exotic materials and virtually hand-built in a bespoke factory, the Performance Manufacturing Centre, in Marysville, Ohio, that sites alongside the plant that used to provide us with Accord wagons.
The centre is described as being a $US70 million test bed for production methods that might eventually spread throughout Honda’s global manufacturing empire.
There’s perhaps irony in that the production pace for the fastest road car Honda has ever devised is deliberately measured. Each example takes up to 12 days to create.
Australia’s specification would seem to offer good insight into how the car would probably be presented here, given that many Hondas are already being sold here in shared specification.
Our neighbour has included the carbon-fibre exterior and interior packages as standard. The exterior pack features a carbon-fibre roof, engine cover, rear decklid spoiler, rear diffuser, front under-spoiler and side skirts, as well as carbon-ceramic brake rotors, exclusive interwoven aluminium-alloy wheels and a dark chrome exhaust finisher.
The interior package includes a carbon-fibre meter visor, upper steering wheel rim and steering wheel spokes, as well as brushed aluminium pedals.
Also part of the high-end cabin is an Alcantara headliner, semi-aniline leather and Alcantara power seats.
Standard gear includes LED headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lights, a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with Bluetooth, an 8.0-inch TFT gauge cluster, heated and electric sports leather seats, height and reach adjustable steering wheel and a premium nine-speaker Audio system.
Australia’s car also comes equipped with dusk-sensing auto headlights, flush mounted auto pop-out door handles, heated exterior mirrors, keyless entry and start, electric park brake, cruise control, dual detachable cupholder, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-trimmed instrument and door panels and automatic dimming rearview mirror.
Up front the NSX gets 19-inch wheels on 245/35ZR19 tyres while the rears are 20 inches with 305/30ZR20 tyres. A tyre repair kit is standard.
Safety wise the NSX is offered with a multi-angle rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a tyre pressure monitoring system, hill start assist, brake assist and a suite of airbags including knee and side curtain airbags.
The NSX is powered by a “bespoke” twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre mid-mounted turbo V6 engine producing 373kW at 6500-7000rpm and 550Nm at 2000-6000rpm paired with three electric motors – two on the front axle producing 27kW each and the Direct Drive Motor at the rear delivering 35kW – for a combined total of 427kW/646Nm.
The motor placement makes the NSX an all-wheel-drive supercar matched with a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission and an official combined fuel economy figure rated at 9.7 litres per 100km. Honda is yet to reveal the 0-100kmh time.
Also standard is Honda’s Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) that integrates brakes, steering, throttle, stability assist, dampers and the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD control systems into selectable modes.
The models include Quiet for driving on electric power only, Sport, Sport-Plus and Track.