It was 1990 all over again at the Honda booth. There wasn’t much in the way of proper Soichiro-era steel, but the new Acura NSX was one of the biggest OEM hits at the show. People gawked non-stop. We waited 40 minutes to try to get the shot above, eventually gave up, and then stayed for half an hour after the show closed to take the snap.
We haven’t driven a new NSX yet, so we can’t really comment on its feel, and whether it stays true to the original, which we have called perhaps the best Japanese car ever built. On paper, it seems like two turbos, three electric motors and four driven wheels would counter the purity of the original.
However, just like in 1990, the NSX is trouncing an army of established supercars despite not being the one with the biggest engine or most horsepower. It just won Road & Track‘s performance car of the year against the likes of the Audi R8 V10, Porsche 911 Turbo S, and Nissan GT-R NISMO.
Anyone who watched US road racing in the 1990s will remember the RealTime Racing Integra Type Rs and NSXes, always decked out in a vivid white and fluorescent orange paint scheme. Honda’s big announcement at SEMA was the NSX would be returning to the Pirelli World Challenge series in 2017, with RTR’s founder and star driver, Peter Cunningham, as team manager.
Though he won’t be behind the wheel more, Cunningham holds seven seven World Challenge championships (and is also the all-time leader in starts, wins and poles), all in Honda or Acura vehicles. The NSX GT3 shown at SEMA — along with matching MDX and trailer — wears subtle strips of orange as an homage to his distinctive livery.
For those who can’t race an NSX, there’s the new Honda Civic. This is a car Honda has actually let us drive, and it is a welcome return to the sharp-handling sedans of the 1980s and 90s. Bodies in white are always cool, and Honda was using one to show off the potential for turning one into a race car.
Besides, the NSX, the Type R Civic and Integra were icons of the 1990s. The Civic Type R is back, and finally coming to America. Our French correspondent has already seen this at the Paris Motor Show, but this is the first time the new CTR been shown in the US.
We were kind of surprised that Honda Serial One wasn’t on display, but the NSXes showed that the 1990s could be back in another way. Nissan has the GT-R, Lexus the LC500, Honda has the NSX. Toyota is even coming out with a new Supra, and Mazda is studying whether to bring the RX-Vision to market. We could be on the brink of a Japanese sports car renaissance not seen since the decade of hip-hop and grunge.