Of all the manufacturers in the world, Honda might be the one that made the least so-called 'bad' cars. Sure there are one or two oddballs, such as the CR-Z with it's lack of power, the original Insight with it's weird and not very good powertrain, and maybe the normal Civic is a bit boring, but that's it.
But in it's long and proud history, there are 5 cars that stands out the most. Here are five of the best cars Honda ever made.
No. 5: New NSX
James May who drove this car on The Grand Tour said that he wants one of these as it's smart and clever; Jeremy Clarkson on the other hand complains about the needle on the fuel gauge in the instrument binnacle not centred, the weight is too much and the handling of this 'supposed' supercar is somewhat lacking in his review on The Sunday Times.
It's weird how people describes this thing super differently. On one hand, there are people that compliments this thing no end, and said it lives up to the NSX name as the 'daily-able' supercar; on the other hand people also complained about the cheapness inside, the hindrance of the electric motors makes the car zigzag in the bends, and the complete lack of steering feel.
However, there is no denying that Honda has managed to popularize the use of hybrid technology, when people are still messing about in turbochargers, that makes them the pioneers in moving the supercar game onwards. So it must be plausible, right?
No. 4: S660
When cars nowadays get bigger, smarter and grippier, Honda stuck to their guns and made this dinky little thing under the kei car rules, called the S660. The S660 harks back to the olden days of Honda sports cars, such as the S600, S800 and so on, and this car is just as fun and even more fuel efficient than it's spiritual successor - the Honda Beat.
The Honda S660 is powered by a 0.66L turbocharged three-cylinder engine, producing just over 60bhp. It's not exactly what you call fast, but it is damn capable. Because it's wheelbase is that narrow, and because of the stiff chassis, journalists who drove it said it actually feels like the original NSX, which is definitely a compliment.
The magnificent power is then transmitted through the short-throw six-speed gearbox and onto the rear wheels, and because there isn't much power, you can basically go flat out with minimal braking on those twisty Touge roads. What a car. Shame they don't sell it in any other parts of the world though.
No. 3: Civic Type R
To be perfectly honest, it's very very hard to choose between the original Integra Type R DC2, the Civic Type R EK9, the last generation of the Integra Type R DC5 and this the EP3 Civic Type R. All of them are extremely capable front wheel drive hatchbacks that can fight against their European rivals with relative ease.
In the end, and as you can see, the Honda Civic Type R EP3 was chosen, simply because of that gear stick. Just look at it! You might think that it's stupid to mount the gear lever on the centre console but it does fit into Honda's legendary ergonomics. Because it's so near the steering wheel, you don't really need to swing your left arm that far to change cogs. Isn't that brilliant? And not one Type R after the EP3 did that. Not one.
The rest of the package beats every single of its European rival too. Powered by a red top K20A, producing in the 200bhp range, it's not fast no. But that's not the Type R way. A Type R is fun in the corners, and speed is always not the priority. Of course it's relatively fast too, but it's fun that matters. Because the engine can rev to 9,000rpm if you so wish, and it sounds glorious, it's like a puppy jumping up and down, trying to make you happy. And what's wrong with a puppy?
No. 2: S2000
Honda's 50th birthday to itself is a damn good one - the S2000. It's not as fast as the NSX, nor is it as cheap as the Civic Type R up there, nor is it particularly powerful. But this is a car that can out handle the NSX round the bends, if driven correctly, according to experts. That's what makes the S2000 the perfect second car.
Under the gorgeous body lies something that many petrolheads consider to be one of the best powertrain there is - a two-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine, mated to a six-speed 'box with power going to the rear wheels via a limited slip differential. That beautiful drivetrain is then partnered up to a chassis with 50:50 weight balance and as stiff as a hardtop, and what you end up with, is the one of the best handling cars in the history of motoring.
Inside the S2000, things get better, the dashboard is tilted towards the driver, just like a jet fighter, the rev counter goes all the way to 9000rpm in a racecar style rev 'bar', and everything is so ahead of it's time that Jeremy Clarkson thinks this is better than the then-new Boxster and Z4. It truly is one hell of a car.
No. 1: NSX-R
There is a known rule in the trade of car journalism: if you mention the NSX, there are some keywords that you must mention: Ayrton Senna, first all aluminium bodied roadcar, Ferrari beating performance and everyday supercar.
Since all of those words have been gibbered, it's time to get into the business: what makes the NSX-R so special. In a recent review of a later NSX-R on DriveTribe (click here for the review), the owner said that the normal NSX doesn't actually drive that well. The steering wheel lacks feel and he wanted to get out in 5 minutes. But this, the R version is the one to go for. With an unassisted steering passing every single piece of information you need to know via the Momo steering wheel and onto your fingertips, this is the car to have.
The NA2 cars have revised aerodynamics, which pushes the entire car onto the floor and gives you endless confidence when attacking sweeping corners. Racing drivers call this 'hard to drive fast' as it chooses talented drivers, and it's not easy to go fast at all. Yes it's not as fast as a Porsche 911 GT3RS or the Nissan GT-R of the same period, but it's a raw experience that, unfortunately, not many will ever experience. And Honda will never go back to the roots of this NSX-R, which makes it even more legendary.