While the stillborn, V-10-powered NSX was being developed, Honda was also working on a related and obscure project referred to internally as the Small NSX. At the time it was just 1 of several advanced R&D ideas sitting in the design room. Then the financial crisis hit, causing Honda to kill the NSX and shelve all other sports car projects. But Honda has since rebounded, and as we know, the NSX has been reborn as an all-wheel drive hybrid. Now we're hearing the Small NSX may be back on the drawing board as well.
While the words "Small NSX" may conjure up visions of a successor to the S2000, our inside source tells us this is not the case, and that it will look much like a shrunken version of the big-boy NSX, something along the lines of the car you see in this artist's impression. Our source also tells us that like the NSX, it will be equipped with a version of Honda's SH-AWD system.
Power will likely be provided by a turbocharged direct-injection engine. Honda currently has a number of engines that could fit the bill, including the 3.5-liter V-6, 2.4-liter I-4, and 2.0-liter I-4 already offered in several of its American-market products. Given Honda's America-focused development, overseas engines such as its 660cc and 1.0-liter mills are unlikely to be considered. Of the possible 3, the 2.4-liter is the most likely candidate. There's also the possibility that it will be fitted with some kind of hybrid drivetrain.
Our source also tells us the Small NSX will make use of a number of parts from the NSX to help recoup development costs. Given that both cars will be developed at Honda of America's R&D center in Ohio (we're told that in July Honda HQ assigned several of its top test drivers and engineers to the facility for a 5-year stint), it's a logical move. The NSX remains on track to return for the 2015 model year. If it's indeed green-lit, the Small NSX could follow a year or 2 afterward, before the drivers and engineers head home in 2017. Don't expect it to be a bargain sports car, however. Given the amount of DNA it's likely to share with the NSX, the Small NSX would likely cost between $50,000 and $60,000.