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Driving the iconic Col de Turini in the 573bhp Honda NSX

Driving the iconic Col de Turini in the 573bhp Honda NSX

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I didn’t know it was possible to get vertigo while sitting in a car, but as I drive up the Col de Turini in lashing rain with the car scooting across the broken road surface, a rickety wooden fence all that stands between me and a long tumble off a mountainside, I start to feel quite queasy.

With dark clouds masking the mountain tops, thunder crackles and lightning flashes up ahead – it’s all getting a bit intimidating.

The situation isn’t helped by the fact I’m behind the wheel of a Honda NSX, a 573bhp hybrid supercar worth nearly £150,000. As high-performance cars go, this one is surprisingly easy to drive, but something less expensive might calm my nerves a bit.

Side of red Honda NSX sports car driving round a bend


Google ‘world’s best driving roads’ and the Col de Turini, nestled in the French Alps a couple of hours north of Monaco, will invariably feature in the various top 10s that fill the screen. Its tight, twisting Tarmac draped across some of the most epic scenery on the planet makes it a petrolhead mecca.

However, as the elevation figure on the satellite navigation system scrolls past 5,000 feet and the rain gives way to a blinding snowstorm, I’m starting to debate the logic of coming here – especially since the poor visibility gives us no reference point for whether we’re even on the right road.

At the summit of the supposedly incredible mountain pass sits a café, but it looks deserted so I kick the photographer out into the sub-zero conditions. I ask him to make it quick so we can head back to the sunny Riviera where our journey began this morning. We might as well get something out of this day trip, after all.

Red Honda NSX turini sports car driving through the mountains


He gets the last laugh by demanding I get out of the car for the shots and I realise my jumper is stuffed in a holdall, deep in the NSX’s tiny boot, far from reach.

Shots in the bag and hypothermia well on its way, we load everything up and jump back in the car for our descent down the same road we came up.

And then a miracle happens. The imposing peaks must play havoc with the weather in the area, because moments after leaving the summit we break through the clouds and are suddenly bathed in sunlight.

Red Honda NSX sports car driving on very bendy road in the mountains


What had earlier been a terrifying strip of Tarmac trying its best to send us barrelling down a mountainside had become a well-sighted, grippy ribbon on which to unleash the combined power of three electric motors and a 3.5-litre V6.

It’s like a different road. The all-wheel-drive system shuffles power to all four wheels and the sticky tyres bite into the now bone-dry surface, meaning the throttle can be pinned on the way out of corners without fear.

Honda NSX Turini engine close up


The NSX comes alive up here, the twin turbochargers forcing air into the V6 engine to ensure the addictive hit of performance the electric motors serve up lower in the rev range continues right round to the red line.

The Col de Turini is narrow, often narrowest on the blindest corners or where the rocky cliff face juts out into the road. Powering out of low-speed turns pins you into the seat as the needle traces an arc around the digital tachometer, gears shifting with a near-seamless break in performance.

Close up of Honda NSX Turini driver display


It’s a flattering car to drive, intelligently controlling the power delivery so that even if you turn off the traction control systems it holds your hand at the limit.

Mother Nature nearly made the Col de Turini a massive anti-climax, but thankfully the sun shone in the end and gave the NSX the chance to really show what it’s made of. Not many cars could take on this formidable, intimidating road and conquer it with such confidence, but this Honda is something pretty special.

Red Honda NSX Turini sports car in snowy winter