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Acura Honors the 30 Year Anniversary of the NSX Debut in Chicago

The Shot Heard ‘Round the World

In 1989, Acura debuted the NSX supercar and changed the automotive industry. The NSX, then debuted as the NS-X Concept, changed the way people thought about supercars. It came with world’s first all-aluminum monocoque chassis, had titanium connecting rods, and was built to a different standard than the competition. It was the first exotic supercar from Japan and the first supercar you could easily drive daily.

To commemorate the 30-year marker, Acura celebrated the car in Chicago and put together a video. It features the first NSX and the most recent iteration. The commemorative video hits the high points of the model’s debut and showcases some seriously beautiful cars side by side.

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Acura had several different influential members at the Chicago Auto Show to discuss the NSX and its impact. Jon Ikeda, Vice President and General Manager of Acura, was there when the NSX first hit the world stage.

Before NSX, it was always assumed that supercar performance came at the price of a comfortable interior and everyday drivability,” said Ikeda. “NSX shattered those notions, and raised the bar on every other exotic and supercar maker, with the effects still felt today. NSX was a huge inspiration and one of the major reasons I was drawn to join Acura nearly 30 years ago.

The current generation NSX carries on the original car’s mission. The car pushes the performance envelope with a hybrid powertrain and Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive. It has a hybrid twin-turbocharged, mid-mounted V6 engine. It can also operate in full EV mode, and it’s the only supercar built in America.

Acura shows no signs of slowing down, and that’s a very good thing for enthusiasts everywhere. It will keep making the NSX better. Hopefully, in another decade, Acura will celebrate the 40-year anniversary. 

2019 Acura NSX Track Test Review | Exotic tech, exhilarating performance

EAST LIBERTY, Ohio — The 2019 Acura NSX makes sonorous noises behind my ear as the tachometer soars toward 7,500 rpm. My hands grip the squared-off steering wheel a bit too hard as I scrub off about 60 mph and dive into the first corner of the Transportation Research Center (TRC) dynamic handling course. There’s 3,878 pounds of car beneath me, but the front tires do exactly what my hands tell them to, without hesitation, and I’m through the double apex corner without even thinking about the defiance of physics I just witnessed.

On paper, a nearly 4,000-pound track car makes no sense. Yet in practice, it’s just as tossable and eager to change direction as something much lighter. This is the NSX’s party trick, thanks to some magic with the suspension and all-wheel drive system on this car. And while the new NSX is a very different vehicle than its predecessor, it was born of a similar spirit of innovation and forward thinking.

The original Acura NSX hit the streets in 1991, establishing a new set of rules for every supercar released since. Constructed of an aluminum body — still an exotic material mainly used in competition vehicles — with curves that still drop jaws today, it was every bit as sophisticated as a Ferrari. But unlike Ferraris of the time, it was also reliable and easy to drive. Slide behind the wheel of a 1991 NSX, and you’ll be transported back to a time when outward visibility was still in style. You can see the ground right in front of the nose. Turn around, and there’s nothing blocking your view but a low wing. It’s essentially a bubble canopy.

Acura knows owners of the original NSX, your author included, absolutely love this about their cars. The effort to make the cockpit of the NSX similar is appreciated, even if modern crash standards prevent a perfect implementation. There are other subtle throwbacks. Every original NSX made a distinctive intake whine when winding it up to 8,000 rpm, and the new NSX has real intake noise physically pumped into the cabin to replicate this sweet sound all the way through the rev band. Another echo of the original is the simplified, sedate dash layout — eminently usable and likely to age well. A simplified version of the new RDX infotainment system would have fit the bill, too, but sadly it’s not present.

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Under way, however, the generational similarities cease. Our time on this trip in the 2019 model was spent solely on track at TRC, and it was a wholly different experience from the old car. Take drive modes, of which the original had zero and the new model has several. Pop the center dial over to race mode, and the 2019 NSX idles loudly but inoffensively in our makeshift pit lane. Easing out onto the track, the nine-speed dual-clutch transmission holds onto low gears awaiting a takeoff run. After pit exit, all 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of torque are unleashed. Acceleration is instant. There’s no waiting for the turbos attached to the 3.5-liter V6 to spool up, because the electric motor sends a shock through your system straight away. The original NSX, with its naturally-aspirated V6, is lovely but has no answer for the high-tech assistance the new NSX gets from turbocharging and its wild hybrid system.

When the second-generation NSX came out for the 2016 model year, the steering drew complaints. This refresh focused heavily on fine-tuning the steering and suspension, and it worked. Front and rear stabilizer bars are 26 percent and 19 percent stiffer respectively. Rear toe link bushings are 21 percent stiffer, and rear hub rigidity has increased by 6 percent. Much-improved tires — the Continental SportContact 6s — replace the less sticky SportContact 5Ps. Tying it all together is a total recalibration of the SH-AWD system, magnetorheological dampers, electric power steering and stability control settings. If you want the Pirelli Trofeo R rubber, it’s still available as well, but we didn’t get to try those out.

2019 Acura NSX

It all works together perfectly, creating that quasi-telepathic connection that the best drivers’ cars have. Of course, it sets blazing lap times with ease, something the original can’t touch. But there’s also an impeccable balance through long sweepers. The car doesn’t feel like it wants to oversteer, but it’s easy to kick the rear end out in corners, then control it with the throttle in race mode. Stability control is still there, imperceptible but under the surface, and it doesn’t interfere with the fun. You can switch it off entirely if you’d like. The operation of the SH-AWD system, sending power front and rear, is apparent as it yanks you through corners.

The magic is that the complex torque vectoring spits you out on the other side of the corner, making it feel like you did it all by yourself, rather than with the help of a lot of computing power. That could easily make the NSX feel cold and clinical, but it doesn’t. It produces grins that last long after you’re off the track.

Subtle, but tasteful changes were made to the design, too. A new orange paint color is available (it seemed popular during our tour of the NSX’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio) along with a blue and black interior scheme. Full red leather is another new option if you were looking to pop some eyeballs. The front beak directly above the grille was silver before, but now is painted in whichever paint color you choose — a huge improvement. Acura made several cost options standard too, like the four-way power seats, ELS audio system, navigation and proximity sensors.

Driving feel is something that the original NSX did better and arguably still does better than nearly any other car on the road. Gordon Murray thought the connection between the driver and road was so perfect in the original NSX, that he sought to make the McLaren F1 emulate it. Now that’s a compliment.

But I’m not prepared to say the new one matches it. Electric steering can never offer as intimate of a connection to the road as the manual steering in the original NSX does. This is where we’re supposed to accept the inevitable march of “better” technologies, but there’s still a bug in my head telling me it could be better. Getting the 2019 NSX out onto real roads will be the test to see how much it’s improved. For a track, it was good enough with the tires talking to me and some amount of simulated road feel.

While the 2019 NSX updates seem small on paper, the sum is appreciable. You keep the neck-breaking acceleration, but the rest of the car is taken up another notch. It’s no Type R-style upgrade, but think of it as going part-way there.

2019 Acura NSX

All of this extra equipment and performance comes with a small price hike. The 2019 NSX starts at $159,300 including destination charges, a $1,500 increase. If you were to tack on some options, the price begins to approach $200,000, which hurts the value proposition it is at base price. We tested cars with the $10,600 carbon ceramic brake rotors. You probably don’t need them, but if you’re going to be using this car for what’s it’s designed to do, they’re the most important option box to check.

Another roadblock to success the NSX faces is the stiffer competition today versus when the original went on sale in 1991. Nobody expects supercar sales to be robust, but Acura sold just 11 NSXs in September this year. The original NSX died off because Acura couldn’t sell any of them, and they were significantly more expensive by the end of production. Now Acura has to deal with the Audi R8, McLaren 570S and even the 911 Turbo at or near its price point. Those cars are no slouches themselves.

Living up to the legendary reputation of the first Japanese supercar is difficult too. The original NSX is a tough act to follow, particularly in terms of driving feel. But the new NSX is so incredibly dazzling on track, it’s easy to forgive the few areas in need of some polish. The bottom line is that the ’19s gain welcome and noticeable improvements that make it a better supercar. Consider me smitten.

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2019 Acura NSX Gets A Refresh

Acura’s Mid-engine Hybrid Receives Chassis Upgrades, New Color & More Standard Features

The 2019 Acura NSX receives the model’s first refresh, after its market debut some 2 years ago. The refresh is relatively minimalist in nature – as far as these kind of things go – with the mid-engine hybrid AWD supercar benefiting from some chassis tweaks, aesthetic enhancements and introduction of more standard equipment. The NSX retains the 573-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 with 3 electric motors and 9-speed DCT used in previous years.

The NSX debuted with its new swag at ‘The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering’ event on the Monterey Peninsula in California. Most notable on display, was the new ‘Thermal Orange’ paint color option ($750 USD). Other exterior changes include the front grille upper section now being finished in the main body color (previously chrome).

Arguably, the most important changes come in the form of improvements to the chassis which include new Continental SportContact tires, a stiffer suspension setup and calibrations to the vehicle’s software, which directs the SH-AWD system, active dampers, electric power steering and stability control system.

Acura claims that all of these changes translate to a 26 percent and 19 percent stiffer front and rear anti-roll bar respectively, and ultimately provide better grip and more precise handling feedback to the driver. These upgrades were made in a direct response to the previous car’s tendency to be over-sensitive to weight transfer on corner entry, resulting in generally undesirable moments of oversteer.

Engineers modified chassis components, tires and software tuning to make NSX even more responsive to the will of the driver, elevating performance driving in all circumstances, from daily driving to the circuit. At the limit, the NSX’s balance, playfulness and controllability have improved, allowing the driver to more precisely modulate understeer and oversteer with subtle throttle inputs. – Acura Press Release

Acura further notes that the newest NSX will complete a lap of its home course, Suzuka Circuit, 2 seconds faster than before.

Now standard in the Acura NSX are the ELS premium audio system, power sport seats, navigation, proximity sensors and sport pedals – altogether costing $4,700 USD in options on the previous NSX. While the base price of the 2019 Acura NSX is $157,500 USD – $1,500 more than last year’s model – one could argue that the NSX is actually getting a price cut with the aforementioned $4,700 in options now being standard fare.

Acura NSX roadster finally on its way this year?

Autobild put together a slideshow forecasting various convertibles due to arrive from 2018 to 2023. The long-prophesied Acura NSX roadster graced the first slide, reportedly prepped for market launch later this year at a price of 200,000 euros. That’s about 13,000 euros more spendy than the hardtop, a relative bargain. Don’t call your Goldman private banker yet, though — that Autobild slide is likely as close as any of us will get to said roadster this year.

We’ve been doing the hokey pokey with the droptop NSX for at least six years now. In 2012 an eager enthusiast corps thought a European patent might have revealed the convertible supercar, only to realize it was Acura protecting Tony Stark’s screen gem in The Avengers (pictured). In 2016, Autocar reported that Honda viewed the NSX as a platform for experiment and tests of developing technology that “help [Honda] understand where the brand is going.” Those brand explorations meant Honda was “contemplating convertible, lightweight, non-hybrid and all-electric versions.”

In 2017, Internet snoopers happened on patent images for a droptop coupe first dubbed the “Baby NSX,” then potentially the ZSX after more snooping dug up a trademarked name. Even though production plans for a “Small NSX” actually did exist, dated to before 2008, the Small NSX/BabyNSX/ZSX turned out to be the Honda Sports Vision GranTurismo entry when Honda couldn’t make a business case for the genuine article.

Here we are staring down the same wishing well. Last year Acura sold 137 NSXs in the U.S. through the end of Q1, and so far this year only 67 coupes found buyers in that time. We know the NSX is a halo car, but halos work to best effect when they’re visible. So all we know now is that the talented hybrid would do well with any variant that would get it more visibility, of the top-down kind, the Type R kind, perhaps a road-legal, non-hybrid GT3 kind, or any other.

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Acura NSX ScienceofSpeed Dream Project brings another wing to SEMA

Acura rolled into SEMA last year with its non-hybrid NSX GT3 race car, that FIA spec-series competitor pulled to Vegas on a trailer behind a GT3-themed Acura MDX. Sticking with the GT3 theme this year but going road-legal, Acura worked with Arizona-based ScienceofSpeed on a GT3 package that NSX owners can put in driveways. The result is the lower, more powerful, more wing-y NSX “Dream Project.”

Liquid-cooled injecting for the twin-turbo boosts output, adding 37 horsepower for a total of 610, and another 31 pound-feet of torque to register 507. A lightweight steel exhaust sheds 16 pounds and bestows those magnified numbers with magnified bass. A custom suspension drops the coupe by a little more than an inch, a custom iLIFT suspension add-on automatically raises the front axle two inches if the NSX detects a hurdle.

The ScienceofSpeed aero kit includes all you’d expect from the alphanumeric “GT3:” front strakes, wider rocker panels, larger rear diffuser, a rear wing, gold powdercoated carbon ceramic Brembo brakes, and wider Pirelli Trofeo R tires wrapped around Advan GT forged wheels. Drench the package in two-tone Andaro Nouvelle Blue Pearl and gloss black roof, and the NSX Dream Project’s ready to be driven from climate-controlled garage, to parking-lot car show, back to climate-controlled garage. If the owner decides to test a limit or two, Recaro Pole Position seats and a gaugeART OLED display will keep him locked in and informed.

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Buy a new NSX and you can put the badges on as it rolls off the line in Ohio

Acura announced today that new NSX owners now have an opportunity to see their cars being built at the Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Marysville, Ohio. At the starting price of $2,700, owners can participate in the “NSX Insider Experience” in which they’ll tour the factory, as well as the Honda Heritage Center. The latter of which houses a HondaJet, an iteration of ASIMO, Honda’s famous humanoid robot, and other pieces of Honda history. Owners on the tour also have the chance to talk with people on the assembly line about how it all comes together, and can even install the badges on their very own cars.

If that’s not enough, Honda offers a few other optional extras to make the trip special. They can add a tour of the factory in Anna, Ohio, where the NSX engines are made, as well as sign up for a performance driving experience in a new NSX. The driving portion is available in two- and four-hour sessions, and it takes place at the Transportation Research Center, which doubles as Acura’s NSX proving grounds. Of course these extras will add to the cost, as will bringing guests.

Honda even offers help with travel planning through Acura Concierge. The service can book your flight and other travel arrangements. It will also allow you to stay at the special NSX suite at the Joseph Hotel in Columbus, Ohio. Acura didn’t go into detail as to what makes the suite specific to the NSX, but we’re sure it’s a nice place nonetheless. NSX owners interested in the program should check out the program’s website, here. For people without the means to buy an NSX, you can still get a look into the factory by checking out our visit to the facility.

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