Honda NSX is back to jumpstart brand value
WITH its aggressive design and million-dollar price tag, Honda Motor's revamped NSX is a far cry from its "cheap and cheerful" Civic sedans.
But the automaker is betting the car will return some spark to its brand image and product line-up.
The new NSX, jointly developed by Honda's American and Japanese engineers and produced in the United States, marks the revival of the model after the company stopped production of the "Asian Ferrari" in 2005.
First launched in the 1990s, the NSX redefined the supercar genre by marrying a high-performance sportscar with everyday driveability.
Starting at 23.7 million yen (S$320,000), the bespoke hybrid model became available to order in Japan yesterday, having launched in the US earlier this year. It will also be sold in Canada, China, Europe and other regions.
Marketed under the Acura badge, Honda's stalled premium brand in the US, China and other regions, the NSX marks the latest effort by the Japanese automaker to reclaim its reputation as a leader in innovation and engineering after a spell of sluggish sales due in part to "play-it-safe" designs.
"We've really woken up and realised that Honda has to make a Honda product.
"A Honda product... can't just be a mental or physical thing, it has to be emotional," executive engineer and NSX project co-leader Ted Klaus said.
Honda beefed up the model with a hybrid powertrain consisting of three electric motors and a twin-turbo V-6 engine approaching the power of a Ferrari.
Encased in an aluminium body, Mr Klaus said the NSX marked a turnaround in the company's engineering direction.
CLSA analyst Chris Richter said: "Once upon a time, Honda was synonymous with performance.
"Now, Honda is known for reliability, for sensibility.
"(The new NSX) is an attempt to redefine Honda and regain some of the excitement about driving."