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2nd gen NSX development story by Takuma Sato

1 March 2005
San Diego, CA
Hey all,

Sorry if this is a repost. Sadly this is only in Japanese and I don't see English subtitles for it, but this is a discussion/interview with Takuma Sato at this year's Tokyo Auto Salon from about three months ago. He talked in great detail about his work as one of the development drivers on the 2nd generation NSX. Some of his points:
  • He was asked a long time ago to drive a Honda Odyssey as part of filming a promotional video. He was not very happy with it and wanted to suggest all sorts of improvements but the car was already completed and he realized giving feedback early during development was crucial.
  • Years later, he had a chance to participate in the development of the 2nd gen NSX. He created a huge checklist of things he felt needed to be fixed or improved, but only a fraction of that made it into the first NC1. They simply ran out of development time and had to go to market.
  • As development continued with the 2019 model's improvements and then the Type S, more and more of his checklist items were fixed. He is a lot happier with the latter versions.
  • He discussed some of the reasons the NC1 was not well received in the press. Part of it he feels was the car was a bit ahead of it's time. There were also constraints that Honda put on the car, such as choosing the OEM Continental tire that provided the best all-around wet/dry performance rather than just committing to pure summer tires like Michelin PSC2. He noted that other makers like Porsche would spell out in their owner's manuals that the tires would not perform well in extremely low temperatures or in the wet. Honda would never allow such a compromise.
  • He talked about the difficulties with the software defined nature of the car. That it utilized the tires' traction within the car's limits to hide the weight extremely well and provide really great handling. But when you exceeded the tires' grip, the control systems didn't have any traction budget remaining to work with and at that point the car has to fall back on its core chassis balance and light weight (or lack thereof). That's why the car is fantastic up to a certain point, but if you overdrive it, you'll run into those limitations.
  • He took development engineers, one at a time, as passengers up in the mountains of California and drove it at 100% to show them what he was talking about and give them feedback. They took his feedback and those improvements showed up in the later updates.
  • He really hated the throttle remapping that happens between Sport and Sport+ mode. The way the car would surge forward when you twist the knob really annoyed him and that inconsistent user input was a bad thing. The switching to a more aggressive throttle mapping was a fake way to make the engine seem more responsive but it was just an illusion. The engineers understood what he wanted but they were told (I assume by the product team) that *something* obvious had to to happen when you switched modes or else they'd receive complaints that switching modes didn't do anything.
I'm just dumping these points out from memory and I'm hoping someone better at Japanese than me will correct me or add the many things I'm missing.

Thanks for sharing, very cool!