Honda is reportedly developing a mid-engined hybrid sports car to compete with the Porsche Cayman and Alfa Romeo 4C.
The Japanese automaker’s much-awaited revamp of the critically acclaimed NSX will go on sale in 2016, badged as an Acura in the U.S. This leaves Honda without a direct rival for Porsche, which is why the sub-NSX was born.
The model hasn’t yet been named by Honda, but is said to feature a mid-mounted petrol engine driving the rear wheels, while an additional electric motor directs power to the front wheels when needed.
The baby NSX will borrow the turbo four-cylinder engine from the ballistic new Civic Type R. Proof again that Honda’s move away from their famous naturally aspirated V-tec engines to turbo powerplants in their performance models looks set to stay.
The use of carbon fibre and aluminium in both a coupe and convertible, will ensure the car is kept at a competitive weight and will handle on par with the Porsche Cayman.
Based on the car being developed predominantly for US markets, it is suspected that the sub-NSX will be presented at either the Los Angeles Motor Show in December or the Detroit Motor Show early next year.
The Alfa Romeo 4C and Porsche Cayman have their work cut out, with the new Honda expected for 2017.
Honda NSX – Japan’s supercar killer
The NSX was birthed in 1990, taking timeless body styling and a bulletproof mid-mounted 201kw DOHC 6-cylinder engine that adhered to the strict Japanese automaker power regulations at the time.
Despite being under-powered when compared with European Supercars of the era, the NSX used a light aluminium chassis, mid-mounted engine and advanced double wishbone suspension to offer a package that went head to head with the likes of Porsche and Ferrari.
The 8000rpm redline from the screaming V-TEC 6-cylinder engine and the world-beating handling made the NSX a hit from its launch in 1990 through to 2005 when it was discontinued.
In 2011 Honda announced a new model to be released to take on the Ferrari 458. The new NSX will feature a hybrid powertrain consisting of a powerful twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder engine and three electric motors.
The new NSX is set to go on sale in 2016 and is likely to give McLaren’s latest arrival, the 540C, a run for its money. The exact performance specifications of the NSX are not yet available but the price point will be very similar – around $160,000.
What is known is that, by comparison to the Mclaren 540C’s mid-mounted 533hp 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8, the NSX will be powered by a twin-turbocharged, 75 degree V-6 (also with a mid-ship position). In addition, the internal combustion engine of the NSX will be paired with three electric motors, two of which will power the front axle, while the third electric motor is integrated between the engine and the rear-based nine-speed DCT.