What's the most exclusive exotic car on Australian roads? It might not be a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati or even a McLaren. It’s a Honda.
From the same stable as all your neighbourhood Civics and CR-Vs, which sell each year in their tens of thousands, the surprising superstar is the $420,000 road runner called the NSX.
Just eight of the Japanese exotics have been sold in the four years since the NSX returned down under, with keys to two more of the $420,000 howlers to be handed over in 2019.
“NSX is a halo model for the brand and an important part of showcasing the technological capabilities of Honda,” Stephen Collins, the market director of Honda Australia, tells Australian Business Traveller as he introduces the updated 2019-model NSX.
However, he warns those bitten by the NSX bug that "given global production is set at around 1600 vehicles per year, there is generally a 3-6 month lead time to secure a production slot for Australia."
The introduction of the second-generation NSX marked the renewal of a program that began in the 1980s when Honda, then deeply involved in Formula One racing, decided it wanted to go head-to-head with Ferrari using its first mid-engined supercar.
The result was both a great looker and a go-getter, despite only using a V6 engine and with some of the cheapoid interior parts - turn signals and light switches - from the Civic of the day.
Fast-forward to 2016 and the NSX returned as a petrol-electric hybrid supercar. The prime target for the car was the USA, where development was concentrated and where the car is now built, with just a handful reserved for Australia.
Key changes for 2019 are a tauter suspension package and upgraded Continental tyres for more cornering grip, as well as software revisions to the all-wheel drive system, power steering, adjustable dampers and the twin electric motors that boost the turbocharged V6 petrol engine.
“There have been a number of changes to 19YM NSX (which) have improved dynamic handling performance,” Collins says.
Thermal Orange Pearl is Honda's signature paint colour for 2019, the grille is now painted in body colour, and the carbon fibre aero parts on the car - including the rear spoiler - are dressed in glass black. Following a recent trend, the brake calipers can also be orange to match the bodywork.
Inside, the leather trim is available in an optional bright indigo blue.
Surprisingly, one thing that remains the same is the underwhelming ‘beep-beep’ horn on the car, which was chosen to create the least-possible interruption to cooling airflow in the nose of the NSW. “There has been no change to the horn in 19YM NSX,” Collins smiles.
Honda has always been one of the premium Japanese brands and Collins predicts 2019 will be a big year for the company.
“We are coming off the back of a good 2018 that saw our highest sales level in a decade and very strong private market share.
“The past eight months have been a challenging market and we expect this will continue for much of 2019. However, we have a strong core model line-up and Accord full-model change launch late this year so we and our dealer network are optimistic Honda will at a minimum hold our share in 2019.”