New & Used Acura NSX: In Depth
Though substantially different from the groundbreaking, aluminum-bodied original, the Acura NSX returns in 2016 as the mid-engined sports car atop the lineup of Honda's luxury brand. That first NSX was introduced as a 1990 model and sold until 2005, receiving only mild updates over its long production run.
The first NSX came as an outgrowth of Honda's smashing success in Formula One racing in the 1980s. It was inspired by the road cars from its racing rival Ferrari, but with Honda's usual application of its own hallmark intensive engineering.
The NSX was first shown at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show and entered production later that year as a 1990 model. It was sold as an Acura in the U.S.; most of the rest of the world knew it as the Honda NSX. The sports car wore an aluminum body, drew its power from a 270-horsepower 3.0-liter mid-mounted V-6 engine, sent that power to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission, and had what some drivers felt was the best handling of any of its contemporaries—Ferraris included.
The NSX was so well received, Honda kept the car in production for 15 years. While the basic body and structure remained the same, several changes were made over the car's lifespan. The coupe was joined, and then ultimately replaced, by a targa model with a removable roof panel; a four-speed automatic option was added; the five-speed manual was swapped out for a six-speed unit; and the V-6's output increased by 20 hp on manual models. In 2002, the car received a mild face lift. While the NSX remained as pure as ever to the end of its run, there were some who lamented a lack of progress, especially compared to the competition of the time.
Remaking an icon
In the late 2000s, Honda began to toy with the idea of an NSX replacement and initiated development of a V-10-powered successor. The company scuttled the program as the 2008 recession hit. Recasting its efforts as part of a plan to turn around the Acura division, it later approved a new NSX concept, which took its bow at the 2012 Detroit auto show.
This time, the Acura NSX has been on a slow but steady track for production, with development taking place at Honda's American engineering arm in Ohio. The new concept car was shown several times and eventually translated into the final production version, with the concept's design left largely intact; Acura showed the new model at the 2015 Detroit auto show. Power comes from a new direct-injected V-6 with a dual-clutch transmission and a built-in electric motor as well as motors on the front axle, which makes the NSX a through-the-road hybrid of sorts--one in which the electric motors can be used at the front wheels to provide all-wheel drive. The same basic setup is found on Acura's new RLX luxury flagship sedan, although the four-door instead has its engine and transmission mounted up front, with the extra electric motors providing torque vectoring and all-wheel-drive functions at the rear axle.
Acura has released more information on the powertrain and chassis, although output totals are still undisclosed. The engine has twin turbochargers, a 75-degree V angle, and dry-sump lubrication. It is fed by a combination of port and direct injection.
The new NSX will measure 170.5 inches long, 74.6 inches wide, 45.7 inches tall, and ride on a 101.4-inch wheelbase. That compares with the original car's 174.2-inch overall length, 99.6-inch wheelbase, 46.1-inch height, and 71.3-inch width. The new NSX chassis is made mostly of high-strength steel but incorporates a carbon-fiber panel for the floor.
Production is expected to begin at some point in 2015, with the new car labeled a 2016 model.
Acura NSX II concept - 2013 Detroit Auto ShowEnlarge Photo