If the Ford GT was the surprise supercar launch at the Detroit Auto Show, then the Honda NSX (here badged as an Acura, for the North American market) was the one we knew we were going to get. After all, Acura has been showing the NSX in concept version for three years, so everyone knew the production version was coming.
The style may bring bouts of déjà vu, but nonetheless the NSX is worth your time of day. It's a junior supercar in every sense of the word. And in the supercar showdown, it faced off against the Ford GT in Detroit. But the only real similarity the two share are the twin-turbo V6 engines at their hearts.
Otherwise, where the Ford is big and brash the NSX is compact and almost discrete. Where the Ford is all about its engine and eschews complex hybrid systems and electric motors, the Honda supplements the V6 motor with three – yes three – electric motors in a "sport hybrid" system. It all drives through a 9-speed dual clutch gearbox and is all-wheel drive.
"Epic" has become an overused word, but given Honda's prowess in the world of internal combustion engines, hybrid systems and gearboxes, the combo of the three in the NSX promises to be truly marvellous.
On the outside, there are hints of Audi R8 about the NSX's form – with a cab-forward, two-seater cabin – while the split-away rear shoulder buttresses seen on the concept remain. They're actually similar in origin to the Ford's – it's just that the GT executes them with an exaggerated "look-at-me" quality, whereas the NSX's are a bit blink-and-you'd miss it.
The surfacing and detailing is too fussy for our liking, but it's proportionally very fine, and the compactness of the thing impresses. Looking at the width of both the NSX and the GT, we'd say that if you fancy using one in Blighty or the wider realm of Europe, then the NSX is going to be an awful lot easier to handle, place and park in nearly every road situation we experience this side of the pond. The Ford, by comparison, will be straddling two lanes as it's so wide.
Step inside – yep, Acura actually opened the doors of the NSX – are you listening Ford?) – and the black/red performance-focused cockpit of the concept remains, too. We particularly like the high centre tunnel with the integrated gear-shift/parking brake/drive select function, which is designed as a kind of mouse and wrist-rest package. It sits below a central display screen, which works in tandem with a TFT driver gauge display. Sadly we can't tell you what going to be on those, as we didn't see the screens operational at the show. But Honda promises a very driver-focused experience, and a continuation of the ease of use with the class-leading visibility and ergonomics which made the original NSX so ground-breaking 25 years ago.
The body and chassis Honda talks about as being made up of an "advanced mix of multi-materials", including composites. Sounds a bit vague, but the NSX uses an aluminium spaceframe with a carbon-fibre floor and a mix of composite, advanced materials, so should be lightweight in order to counter the hybrid system's extra pounds. Ultimately, expect heady amount of (as yet undisclosed) power created from that V6 and its three electric motors and a 0-60 time of sub 4-seconds.
All told, we really like the NSX. It had its headlines stolen by the Ford GT here in Detroit, and we hope that three-year-long teased car launches don't become the norm. But we can see this car working exceptionally well in Europe, providing something of an attractive prospect. Very attractive: just look at it.
With rumours flying around the Detroit show floor the NSX will cost $150,000 (under £100,000) it potentially represents a bargain in its class too. It's not for those who want to shout from the rooftops about their supercar (form an orderly queue by the Ford please), but we like the cut of the NSX's jib and can't wait to get behind the wheel.