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Silver, sleek and super

The first sign of a new Honda supercar came this week when a stunning silver coupe was rolled on to the Acura stand at the show.

The final version is expected to be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show in October.

There is no surprise in the mechanical package for the Advanced Sports Car Concept, as Honda has tapped its grand prix racing program to snatch a hi-tech V10 engine for the front-engined, rear-drive car.

It has a full carbon fibre underbody and rear diffuser to generate Formula One-style downforce and its super-handling all-wheel-drive system is used in the Honda Legend sold in Australia. The powerplant is a big step up from original NSX's V6, which was never feisty enough to challenge Ferrari or Lamborghini.

The NSX was also let down by far too much basic Honda hardware, including the switches and stalks from the baby Civic.

The vehicle points to a top-end performance car war in Japan, as Nissan is almost ready with a born-again GT-R and Toyota has both its LF-A hybrid supercar and the Supra concept it showed at Detroit.

Honda used the Acura name and stand at the Detroit show because it is the company's premium brand in the US.

But there is no doubt the production NSX will have Honda badges in Japan and the rest of the world.

"I can tell you it will feature advanced technology matching our passion for performance," Honda president Takeo Fukui says.

The mechanical package of the Honda concept includes 19-inch alloy front wheels with 20-inch rims on the rear, carbon-ceramic disc brakes with eight-piston calipers, a six-speed F1-style manual gearbox and fully-independent suspension.

Honda is keeping the other details secret, including the engine's power output, its electronic systems and the performance potential. But it should come with about 400kW and a 0-100km/h sprint in the four-second range.

Honda is more open about the body design, which has dropped the wedgy NSX in favour of a more traditional sports-car look.

The car was designed by an American team in California under Jon Ikeda.

"Our intention was to design an exotic sports car that gracefully combines advanced technology and strong emotion," Ikeda says.

The style work includes wheels pushed right out to the corners of the body, a full cabin cover in tinted glass and LED headlights.

Not surprisingly, there are four tailpipes.