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NSX vs 911C4 - track impressions

Joined
1 February 2005
Messages
88
Location
Tropical Asia
After months of sorrow from broken snap ring, suspension and ABS issues I got my NSX back and finally got to test it and my new prototype exhaust/header system on the track for the first time.

The last car that I tracked often was the Porsche 911C4 (type 964) so I'll be comparing my impressions of the NSX (TCS on) vs the all-wheel drive Porsche

Presence
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Not that important but still it was immediately apparent that even before I hit the track the NSX got more attention than the 911 ever did. I guess the 911 is common sight. That day the NSX was in the presence of Lotus Espirit (bi-turbo), Lotus Elise S1, Impreza STIs, EVO 9, 911 RUFs, Merc AMGs, etc. So it's a better chick magnet, but how does it perform on track....

Power Delivery
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NSX has much less traction on take-off - this is obvious because the 911C4 is all wheel drive. Low end grunt is better in the 911. However at higher revs the NSX pulls just as strong but longer and so on a longer straight would probably out accelerate the 911.

The lower torque at low rpm and the tall gears of the NSX took some getting used to. Being in the right gear at the right rpm when negotiating a turn was far more critical on the NSX than the 911. However, if the correct gear is selected it accelerates out the corner faster than the 911 though you need to do it later

Steering
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The steering of the 911 seems more precise and sharper even though it has power assist while my NSX doesn't. The NSX steering precision felt good but slightly “wooly” compared to the 911.

However the NSX steering is more communicative in the sense that you can better feel when the wheels are going to break traction. In the 911 you have to feel the entire car to sense if the wheels are losing traction.

Handling
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Because the 911’s steering is less communicative of wheel traction, when it loses traction it does so quickly with little warning. In the NSX you get prior warning from the steering. When the car does lose traction, the NSX is more neutral and is a lot easier to counter steer it back on course even if the tail breaks away to a great degree. The 911 is less forgiving. Within a much narrower limit, you can counter steer the 911 out of trouble but it is a lot harder work. Beyond a certain point, while the NSX can still be saved, the 911 goes into a terminal spin

The NSX allows you to dive into a corner more aggressively than the 911 which prefers to brake in a straight line then turn whereas the NSX allows much later braking into the turn without feeling like the tail was going to break suddenly. However the 911 (maybe because it has all wheel drive) allows power to be applied stronger and much earlier coming out of a turn whereas if I applied power too earlier out of the turn in the NSX I would get power oversteer .

In higher speed corners, lifting off the accelerator mid corner in the 911 is always disastrous while the NSX is more stable and forgiving in this respect (maybe it’s the TCS)

Notes on Car Mods
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NSX has equal length headers with straight through mufflers and no cats. Bilstein shocks with TEIN springs (20% stiffer than stock). Cantrell air intake with sponge filter from SOS

911 has same design equal length headers with straight through mufflers and no cats. 24-way adjustable Leda coilovers, GruppeM intake. RUF chip. Upsized Brembo big reds

Conclusion
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I love track days
 
Good comparison, but just a little hint: I never drive the NSX with TCS on at the track, not even in the rain. At some events of my former NSX club it was even recommended to turn TCS off because otherwise you can come in some big trouble with unpredictable behaviour in corners, especialy with race tires. Plus: You reduce the acceleration out of slower corners with TCS on - even in 2nd gear.

With a good suspension setup and some driving skills you will nearly always be able to control a small slide with the NSX without TCS. First rule: Don't overcompensate with the steering wheel to avoid counterswings.

Your experience with newer 911 models would be of course very different - from the old times of the 964 'til the 996 and 997 they made it much more "girlie" safe - more understeer and much less spin danger (a tendency which the real hardcore 911 fans don't like). I would assume that the 997 is much more forgiving now as the latest NSX.
 
Thought I'd play it safe during the first try out. Will turn off TCS next time. What kind of unpredictable behaviour are you talking about with TCS switched on?

I was able to slide the car quite a bit even with TCS on. Does it oversteer more with TCS?

You are right about over compensating on slides. Much less is required than my old 911. First couple of slides I was fish tailing like crazy. Got used to it after awhile.

Even the 996 no longer really have a tail happy kind of behaviour (never tried 997 on track) but I find the Boxster S alot more satisfying on the track and autocross. I believe the NSX would also do better at autocross than the 964
 
Nice review. My first big scalp was a 996 4S (fake turbo looking one) and really got me hooked on the idea of racing the NSX. I was following him round for a few laps and i could see his eyes in his rear view mirror at the exit of the corner. Eventually this was his undoing as he went off at a corner when he spent too much time looking at me and missed the braking zone :biggrin: A problem i notice at trackdays is some people just don't seem to get that if someone has caught you, they are going faster and you should let them pass. Porsche owners seem to suffer from this a lot :rolleyes: :tongue:

Have fun!

-Rob
 
pzull said:
What kind of unpredictable behaviour are you talking about with TCS switched on? I was able to slide the car quite a bit even with TCS on. Does it oversteer more with TCS?
Depending on the model year (Honda altered the TCS a bit over the years, especialy in conjunction with TBW from 1995 on) it does not necessarily oversteer more with TCS but you never know exactly the point when the throttle is automaticaly reduced during a slide (after about 0.3 seconds reaction time according to a Honda brochure) or the amount of reduction the system sees as necessary. This could lead to a load transfer (especialy with very grippy tires) when you react wrong (e.g. too much countersteering because you expected a bigger drift angle than it really occured or going off the throttle in panic) and end in a big spin or runoff.

As refined as the NSX TCS is nowadays (with sensors for wheelspin, drift angle, steering wheel angle, throttle position etc.) it is still not a ESP system where all 4 wheels can be deccelerated individualy.

And the NSX loves this rule that I learned from Keith Codes motorcycle racing lessons: Throttle doesn't make problems, it solves them. Which means that you can stabilize the car in corners with a bit more gas. This makes you faster around the track than you would be in "coasting" style.
 
NSX-Racer said:
And the NSX loves this rule that I learned from Keith Codes motorcycle racing lessons: Throttle doesn't make problems, it solves them. Which means that you can stabilize the car in corners with a bit more gas. This makes you faster around the track than you would be in "coasting" style.

Ditto that. Learnt it driving the old 911. Lift off and you're in trouble...and when in trouble, keep the pedal on the gas. When in the gravel the gas also helps prevent the car from flipping over I was told....never want to experience that!!

BTW mine's a 92.
 
Depending on the model year (Honda altered the TCS a bit over the years, especialy in conjunction with TBW from 1995 on) it does not necessarily oversteer more with TCS but you never know exactly the point when the throttle is automaticaly reduced during a slide (after about 0.3 seconds reaction time according to a Honda brochure) or the amount of reduction the system sees as necessary. This could lead to a load transfer (especialy with very grippy tires) when you react wrong (e.g. too much countersteering because you expected a bigger drift angle than it really occured or going off the throttle in panic) and end in a big spin or runoff.

I know this is an old thread, but I must know how you should adjust your apex if you drive with TCS on. I started driving with the TCS on after coming around a corner and sliding on a patch of wet leafs. Recently I was driving aggresively on a country road for about 30minutes (33# front tires and 36# rear) when I came through a 90 degree turn. On the exit my end came loose. When I steered in and blipped the throttle I got no response due to the TCS being on. The car wobbled about and I felt like a dead duck. Steering through this felt way more difficult than need be. There was no harm done, but a scary scenario for me. I no longer intend to drive aggresivley with TCS on, but I must ask how to handle corners differently with it on.
 
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