2019 Honda NSX
You could be the loveliest person on the planet. You might even give half your hard-earned wages to charity or spend most of your spare time volunteering, helping those that are less fortunate. But step inside the NSX and you'll soon become an arsehole.
When at a press event to test drive cars, the lovely people who hand over the keys will typically explain that the car needs to be back within a certain timeframe in order to allow other journalists a fair chance to take it for a spin. It's an unwritten rule that failing to comply to these timeframes is in no way, shape or form acceptable, and those that do are labelled 'arsehole' until the end of their days. Suffice to say, I have now been labelled.
The NSX can almost be driven normally. In fact, the ride is surprisingly smooth when tootling along an A road in North Wales at 60mph. I even got stuck behind a tractor at one point (no surprises there) on a smaller, bumpier road, and yet my spine remained intact.
However, sitting behind this tractor was potentially the most infuriating two minutes of my life. I knew my time in the NSX was limited, and I therefore wanted to spend what precious seconds I had with open road in front of me. Herein lies the problem.
The feeling you get when stuck behind a standard slow car on the road isn't so bad. It's annoying and frustrating, and you may end up tutting profusely and muttering abuse under your breath, but all will be forgotten once you find a way past. Being stuck behind a tractor is unbearable, and when in the NSX, it feels like every car you get behind is a tractor.
This is due to the sheer power of the supercar. Honda says that its 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine (which is hand-assembled by expert technicians at the company's engine plant in Anna, Ohio) and electric motors combine to create 573hp and 476lb.ft of torque. Zero to 62mph is over in just 2.9 seconds - quicker than it takes to say, 'Hold on to your butts'.
But it's not just the engine and motors that make this possible. The company has done some clever work with computer simulators and 40%-scale models inside a wind tunnel to minimise aerodynamic drag, create optimal downforce, maximise cooling and efficiently exhaust unwanted heat. Weight is also reduced by extensive use of aluminium and carbon fibre, while the multi-material approach has simultaneously helped to improve rigidity and collision performance.
Honda has done something to the suspension system too. Apparently, it uses "third-generation active magnetorheological (MR) dampers and a rigidly-mounted dual‑pinion variable-ratio electric power steering (EPS) system". Who knows? The result, says the company, is enhanced dynamic performance and support for the Sport Hybrid All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. In short, the ride is somewhat glorious.
And then there's the newly designed 9-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) which uses the same housing for the differential and clutch as well as a parallel shaft gear set arrangement in order to reduce the length of the powertrain. The top speed of 180mph is achieved in 8th gear, while the 9th gear is ideal for a relaxing cruise and fuel efficiency on the motorway. There's even "exclusive new gear oil" to improve lubrication and reduce drag in the gear train.
It seems, then, that everything has been designed with such ferocious meticulousness in order to squeeze every ounce of power out of the supercar and intensify its performance. This is exactly what you would expect from any such car, but Honda has somehow managed to hit the sweetest of sweet spots with the NSX. Everything inside is kept simple in order to compliment the driving experience rather than cause a distraction. The information displays aren't too over-the-top, the centre console isn't too busy, and there are no pointlessly fancy functions. The driver's view has even been enhanced with the use of new three-dimensionally bent and quenched (3DQ) ultra-high-strength steel (UHSS) A-pillars, which help to 'maximise driver forward visibility'. The NSX is built for nothing but driving pleasure, and boy oh boy it delivers.
So when stuck behind a car, the danger of risky overtaking pales in comparison to the danger of dying of boredom – cue arsehole driving. The power from the engine and motors combined with aerodynamic wizardry and the fact that it feels about as light as a bag of pasta makes aggressive driving in the NSX both immensely fun and butt-clenchingly easy. I can honestly say that I was genuinely terrified when putting my right foot down, and after taking time to reflect on my experience, I could only imagine the chaos that could ensue if a more ballsy and idiotic driver were to get behind the wheel.
At one point during my short drive into the beautiful Snowdonia National Park, I pulled up next to a lake to admire the view. A walker meandered past and I asked him to take a quick photo of me with the NSX. After he took several shots I thanked him and asked him how his day was going and if he had been enjoying his walk. His response was, 'Yeah' before turning his back and carrying on. No 'I'm great thanks, how are you?', or 'It's a bit cold to be honest, looking forward to being home with a cup of tea.' Just a straight up, slap-in-the-face 'Yeah.' Maybe even being in relatively close proximity to an NSX can turn you into an arsehole.