The world of car culture tends to be broken down into factions of which particular groups have formed based upon trends and tastes. There are those who like going off-road in a 4×4 whilst others love a good hot hatchback. Supercar fanatics, estate car aficionados, those who love to modify, drift, or make track based creations. This vibrant diversity is fantastic, but sometimes it does lead to arguments as to what machinery is “best.” Whilst this simple term is open to a vast amount of interpretation, likely why petrol heads clash on the topic, one car that everyone seems to have a healthy amount of respect for is the Honda NSX. Now something of an urban legend, we were granted access to a pristine 2005 Honda NSX to see if the car is still worthy of its iconic status.
Presenting itself in blazing Imola Orange, this unblemished 27,000 mile example of a 2005 Honda NSX was seemingly factory fresh. It is a silhouette that is instantly recognisable to those baptised using petrol with fighter jet mimicking glass cockpit, neat air intakes, and long tail. Later facelift models such as this one dropped the ever cool pop-up headlights in favour of something more aerodynamic, but this adds to its minimalist design. Despite its Ferrari beating credentials, the NSX doesn’t shout about its performance potential. It sits with a stance of intent and athleticism, but it has a beautifully understated star quality.
The cockpit is where this car starts to show its age. A lack of modern-day technology such as Bluetooth or satellite navigation could be a bit of a shock to the system. A Bose cassette player in the console is a strong reminder of 90’s design from where this car originates. The interior feels far from claustrophobic with plenty of glass allowing light to penetrate. Thin pillars and a good sized rear windscreen actually makes this one of the best supercars in history in terms of visibility, making it easy to park in tight spaces. Two black leather seats provide good support and comfort for occupants. Unusually for a car of this caliber, there is a boot large enough for a couple of overnight bags or a small shopping trip behind the mid-mounted V6.
When the moment came to hit the road I must say that I was a tad worried. Not because this is arguably the most valuable NSX in the UK, or even because it is a high performance machine. No, I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to decades of hype. I had a model car NSX as a child and even a poster on my bedroom wall. They say “never meet your heroes” but ultimately I was about to put that to the test. Being a Honda the engine fired-up without hesitation and as its 3.0 litre naturally aspirated VTEC engine idled there was a palpable sense of expectation. *SPOILER ALERT* it didn’t disappoint! The pedal weights are reasonably heavy, but I quite liked that you had to be deliberate with your actions. Push down on that throttle and a deliciously responsive forward motion is brought about via the rear wheels. With 276 BHP it isn’t the fastest performance car in a straight line by todays standards, 0-62MPH is completed in 5.7 seconds, but this 2005 Honda NSX is about more than figures on paper. It isn’t so much how fast it goes, more how it goes. This chassis is said to have the fingerprints of Ayrton Senna all over it and I totally buy that! Masterful body control, an unflappable demeanour on undulating surfaces, and absolutely predictable in its actions. You work as a team heel and toe through a direct 6 speed manual gearbox, modulating the fulsome brakes. The steering was the only part of the package that didn’t quite match expectations. Whilst it is a work of art in terms of communication between man and machine, the old power steering unit makes the first few degrees of lock too light before it weights up quite suddenly. Also the steering rack isn’t as fast as I would like. It didn’t take away from the experience, but that is the area I would have sought to improve if the model lived on past 2005. Power delivery is actually very linear for a VTEC, but let it rev to the 8,000rpm redline and a spine tingling V6 howl echoes around the landscape. The most surprising element of the NSX for me was its refinement. You can sit on the motorway and the cabin is well insulated from noise and the suspension is more than capable of delivering a comfortable ride.
Does the Honda NSX deserve its legendary status? Absolutely! When this car entered production in 1990 as Honda’s first supercar it took the world by storm. Even today, 26 years after its inception, it is still one of the most special experiences you can have on four wheels. This particular 2005 Honda NSX could certainly teach some modern supercars a thing or two. 2016 sees the rebirth of this motoring milestone and we are waiting with anticipation. However, it has some big shoes to fill.
A special thanks to the Bournemouth Aviation museum in Dorset for the use of their impressive Hawker Hunter fighter jet.
Check out the video HERE.
By Tyler Heatley