Retro review: the Honda NSX Type-R

You are seeing: Retro review: the Honda NSX Type-R. This post was compiled by en.intelnuc.

This review first appeared in Top Gear magazine issue 108 (2002)

It seems that Honda saved the best for last. This stripped-down R is likely to be the last version of the 12-year-old supercar we’ll see. Too bad because this bloody version borders on perfection.

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“The idea behind the R,” explains project director Kyoji Tsukamoto, “was not to create a swan song performance with a huge dose of extra power, but to go back to basics.”

Words: Ben Whitworth
Images: Michael Bailey

Let’s start with the weigh station. The front gets a facelift with smaller air intakes and a carbon fiber hood. Air conditioning outlet, Leccy leather seats and soundproofing padding. A mesh engine cover replaces the solid metal unit, and the rear spoiler and Recaro air intakes are also carbon. Even the battery is smaller, the rear window glass is thinner, and there’s no spare tire.

In total, this regimen sheds 84kg, lowering the R’s mass to 1,274kg and increasing its power-to-weight ratio from 205 to 220bhp/tonne. Mechanical revisions are just as special. Dual wishbones have stiffer springs and dampers, the front stabilizer bar is thicker, and the six-speed manual transmission has a shorter final drive. The nose and tail have bespoke aerodynamic profiles and diffusers, and the underbody has been streamlined. Combined with the wing and hood, the diffusers reduce the R’s aerodynamic drag and reduce lift. At around 100mph there is 36kg of downforce at the front and 25kg at the rear.

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The NSX’s 3,179cc six-cylinder engine still produces 280bhp, but is now equipped with blue pistons and connecting rods. The crankshaft is balanced by hand and the custom engine is assembled and signed by the same engineer. Finally, the electrically operated throttle is remapped for precise scalpel responses and the traction control box is left on the shelf.

All of this turns the mellow NSX into a twitchy, aggressive racer. And driving it is wonderful. The steering weight surprises after the lighter, motorized standard setup. It’s all about building biceps at park speed, but once you get up to walking pace, the three-spoke Momo wheel needs only the lightest of touches.

The track-oriented suspension is also earthy at low speeds, but it picks up speed and the R feels inspired and stable. The nose dips into corners, the front wheels respond with the same kind of telepathic immediacy and clarity that Elise drivers are so familiar with.

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But it is the engine that dominates the entire driving experience. Hit it second and rev when the shift light flashes red from third to fifth, it’s an aural delight bordering on erotic. Nice but true.

Smooth and powerful, the V6 hits and howls all the way to its 8,000-rpm limit with venom. With fewer pounds to push, the R feels noticeably quicker than the more urban NSX: 0-60 in under half a second to five seconds, while top speed hits 175 mph.

Though the steering bumps constantly, the taut suspension soaks up all but the worst intrusion and there’s not a hint of understeer. Also, hitting the brake pedal is like crashing the R into a brick wall.

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The NSX-R’s many revisions come with wonderful consistency and integrity, giving the car a deliciously fair feel. Unfortunately, Honda only planned a limited run of 160. But don’t panic, call your local dealer. Honda UK will bring you one if you want it and possibly at just a 10% premium over the current model. Offer.

Verdict: Sharp, fast and rewarding to drive, the final NSX is the best yet.

3.2 liter V6
280 horsepower, RWD
0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds, top speed 175 mph
£65,995 (estimate)

Mag Top Gear Honda NSX-RMag Top Gear Honda NSX-RMag Top Gear Honda NSX-R

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Source : topgear.com

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