Why is the Honda/Acura NSX the definitive Japanese supercar?

Why is the Honda/Acura NSX the definitive Japanese supercar?

  • Mitsubishi GTO/3000GT

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other (please post in comments)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    23

DAiNiUS

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2006
Messages
47
Location
Montreal QC Canada
I don't post here too often, but I just had a random thought, and figured where better to post than finalgear! As the title states, I want to know other gear heads' opinions about this. Also, I love the NSX - if I had the money, I'd buy one right now as my daily summer driver. At the same time, I'm curious why is the NSX regarded by many as THE Japanese supercar of the 90's.

My question stems from the fact that there were so many great Japanese cars from the same era; the Skyline GT-Rs (R32+), Mitsubishi GTO/3000GT/Dodge Stealth and of course the Toyota Supra Mark IV. The cars that I just mentioned had features like four-wheel steering, sophisticated four-wheel drive systems as well as suspension, and things like automatically adjusting spoilers, and so on. Basically, these were filled with fancy technology that made these cars really fast and easily tunable, reliable, and all other adjectives that describe Japanese cars in general.

Somehow, I find that the general consensus among automotive press (including Top Gear) is that the NSX is THE Japanese supercar. Why is that so? Is it because it looks a bit like a Ferrari 348? Is it because of the mid-engine layout? Was it better to drive than the GT-Rs, GTOs, and the Supras?

I'm not doubting the NSXs credentials, but I'm just curious what you guys think. Please share your comments and opinions.

I figured I'd add a poll as well to see if you guys think that the NSX is THE Japanese supercar of the 90's.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TC

TC

aka TomCat
Joined
Dec 11, 2005
Messages
11,436
I can see the NSX being the Japanese supercar, if only for the mid engine layout and performance caliber, as well as Senna's involvement and all that.

But as far as sportscars go, for me it is a tie between the 4th gen Toyota Supra and the 3rd gen Mazda RX7.
 
Last edited:

prizrak

Forum Addict
Joined
Apr 2, 2007
Messages
20,973
Location
No, sleep, till, BROOKLYN
Car(s)
11 Xterra Pro-4x, 12 'stang GT
Simply put, it was the only one of them that fit the bill. All the others were regular sports cars that competed with other sports cars in the segment, GT-R was simply a trim level for a regular Skyline much like the M3 is a trim level for the 3 series really (or RS4 for the A4). The GTO/Stealth/Supra/300zx/RX7 while their own separate models were still regular sports cars in most ways. Front engine, R/AWD, priced at around 40,000, rear sits (in some of them), decent enough trunk/boot, etc... It was a car that was attainable for a salary man. NSX on the other hand had a bespoke chassis, mid engined, developed by Senna, priced at around $100,000 or so. It looked (still does really) absolutely bonkers. It's completely impractical in every possible way, and is not something that would be bought by even upper middle class person.
 

DAiNiUS

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2006
Messages
47
Location
Montreal QC Canada
Oh man, I knew I forgot to mention something - the RX7! I don't seem to be able to edit the poll now, but the RX7 should definitely be in there. Now that I think about it Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution models should also be included.

- - - Updated - - -

Simply put, it was the only one of them that fit the bill. All the others were regular sports cars that competed with other sports cars in the segment, GT-R was simply a trim level for a regular Skyline much like the M3 is a trim level for the 3 series really (or RS4 for the A4). The GTO/Stealth/Supra/300zx/RX7 while their own separate models were still regular sports cars in most ways. Front engine, R/AWD, priced at around 40,000, rear sits (in some of them), decent enough trunk/boot, etc... It was a car that was attainable for a salary man. NSX on the other hand had a bespoke chassis, mid engined, developed by Senna, priced at around $100,000 or so. It looked (still does really) absolutely bonkers. It's completely impractical in every possible way, and is not something that would be bought by even upper middle class person.
That's kind of what I was thinking. It was like a Ferrari, but just more Japanese (read: affordable, reliable). I guess it just ticked the supercar boxes even though it wasn't as more powerful or technologically advanced than its domestic rivals. Also, North America didn't get many of the great japanese sports cars of that era, so maybe my views are kind of off.
 

Labcoatguy

Forum Addict
Joined
Mar 27, 2005
Messages
13,810
Location
Boston, MA, USA
Car(s)
#Jaguar #XKR, #Saab #9-3
Mid-engined seems to be the differentiator between supercar and grand tourer or sports car, which is what the others are.
 

GRtak

Forum Addict
Joined
Sep 6, 2008
Messages
19,254
Location
Michigan USA
Does that mean a ZR1 is not a supercar?

In my opinion, mid engine is not a requirement for the supercar badge.
 

Vette Boss

Forum Addict
Joined
Nov 14, 2004
Messages
5,250
Location
United States, Britain, in time
Car(s)
2006 Volkswagen Passat 3.6 VR6
The thing that made the NSX was the combination of everything in balance and harmony together, the technology behind it. The NSX was well ahead of its time.
 

Hbriz

Ballroom Blitz
Joined
Jun 25, 2009
Messages
5,653
Location
Wollongong, Australia
Car(s)
'07 Megane dCi
The Supra et al are not supercars, not by a long shot. They can be made to have supercar-rivalling performance, but they are still not supercars. The Skyline GT-R comes close but in my opinion is an awesome sports car rather than a supercar.

But then maybe I'm not the one to judge, the Supra for instance does nothing for me.
 

Interrobang

Forum Addict
Joined
Mar 5, 2007
Messages
8,145
Does that mean a ZR1 is not a supercar?

In my opinion, mid engine is not a requirement for the supercar badge.
Well, the "supercar" term is certainly a thing of debate - and everyone sort of has their own definition. Also the meanings of words change over time, that?s a natural aspect of language.
In German the Term is "Supersportwagen", it contains the "sport" as well and it (to my definition of the word) contains Sports-cars that have been pushed out of the zone of regular sportscars (what "regular" means is also then subject to debate of course). Like taking an 911 wich is a sportscar and evolving it into a GT2 (again, where in the 911 Range the 911 becomes a Supercar is debateable - I?m just listing the GT2 as the tip of the Iceberg) - a Supercar, but still based on a sportscar. This also applies for the Corvette.
Other definitions would never inculde a Car that is not exclusively and entirely a Supercar. Take said NSX for example, that?s not an "evolution" of some sportscar - it?s just a Supercar. Like a Gallardo or a 458.
Wich ever definition you think applies - what they have in common is that they stand above sportscars.
 

DAiNiUS

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2006
Messages
47
Location
Montreal QC Canada
Does that mean a ZR1 is not a supercar?

In my opinion, mid engine is not a requirement for the supercar badge.
Also, Aston Martins have traditionally been front-engined. I didn't do any actual research on this, but I believe that that's the case. Also some Ferraris as well

The thing that made the NSX was the combination of everything in balance and harmony together, the technology behind it. The NSX was well ahead of its time.
This is one thing that I find puzzling. Everyone says that the NSX was way ahead of it's time, but as I mentioned in my first post, it didn't have a whole lot of technology compared to it's japanese rivals with their tricky 4WD systems, automatically adjusting front-and-rear spoilers, 4WS, and so on. Yes it had VTECH, and an aluminium body, but to me the NSX comes off as a simple car compared to the more complex offerings from Nissan & co.

The Supra et al are not supercars, not by a long shot. They can be made to have supercar-rivalling performance, but they are still not supercars.
As Interrobang says, the term supercar is a thing of debate. Why is one car considered a supercar while another one isn't? It's not necessarily the engine placement (Aston Martin). It's not necessarily the looks (Nissan GT-R (R35) is considered a supercar). It's not necessarily the price (GT-R (R35)). It's not even the power.

The NSX had the looks and the desired engine layout, but it didn't have more power than the others, and as I said before, I don't find that it was more sophisticated either.
 

DanRoM

Forum Addict
Joined
Feb 27, 2009
Messages
8,102
Location
Ruhr Area, Germany
Car(s)
MX-5 ND, CBF1000 & two bikes
Take said NSX for example, that?s not an "evolution" of some sportscar - it?s just a Supercar. Like a Gallardo or a 458.
To me, neither of those are "supercars" (a term that I don't like anyway). The two Italian cars cars you mentioned are (or were at some point) the bottom range models of their respective manufacturer. Calling them supercars quickly requires another term for their top-of-the-range siblings - which is where "hypercar" comes in and in my mind the whole terminology becomes truly ridiculous.

The engine of the NSX produces only about 200 kW because of weird Japanese regulations (well, officially - it's an open secret that many Japanese sportscar engines of the time produced way more than that despite their official rating - the Misubishi Evo and Subaru WRX are examples of that, too). That fact alone in comparison with European and American cars of the time is enough to deny it the term "supercar" anyway.

But what sets the NSX apart from other Japanese sportscars of the time is the mid-engine layout and it's dependance on classic sportscar elements rather than putting myriads of complex technologies like four-wheel steering and automatically adjusting spoilers in it like Mitsubishi has done with the 3000 GT.
 

jsausley

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2010
Messages
1,222
Location
Burlington, NC, United States
Car(s)
'16 Audi S5, '14 CC R-Line, '12 Ariel Atom 3
Supercar to me is something that serves no other purpose than to be fast. That means it should be willing to sacrifice ride, comfort and affordability for speed. Nowadays we have supercars that can compromise (you can drive an MP4-12C every single day, for example) but back in the 1990's that was the case (ex: McLaren F1). Because of this definition the NSX is only mainstream car Japan ever produced that really fit the "supercar" category.
 

japanadian

Active Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2011
Messages
325
Location
Montreal, QC
Supercar to me is something that serves no other purpose than to be fast. That means it should be willing to sacrifice ride, comfort and affordability for speed. Nowadays we have supercars that can compromise (you can drive an MP4-12C every single day, for example) but back in the 1990's that was the case (ex: McLaren F1). Because of this definition the NSX is only mainstream car Japan ever produced that really fit the "supercar" category.
I agree, but what's even better about the NSX is it's reliability. Compare it to any super car of the time and it has a stellar record.
 

CAPT_Howdy

Forum Addict
Joined
May 24, 2008
Messages
5,192
Location
Hobb's End, New Hampshire
Car(s)
2004 Mazda6 Estate 3.0
To me, what made the NSX the definitive Japanese supercar was the fact that it was designed to take on the Ferrari 328/348 - and beat them - for half the price. Much like the Lexus LS400 was designed to beat the S class Mercedes - for E class money.

It also had outstanding visibility and driveability for a mid-engined supercar. There's a reason why used Ferraris and Lamborghinis often have low miles - they're not cars that you could use everyday.
 
Top