2002 Acura NSX Review

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John Pearley Huffman John Pearley Huffman Editor
July 22, 2002

When the history of cars in the Nineties is written (and surely someone at Motorbooks International is already working on it), the car that deserves the biggest chapter is the mid-engine, two-seat Acura NSX. Not because it sold in the biggest numbers, had the most power, was the quickest or handled better than any other during the decade, but because it set the standard of excellence to which every other car was eventually compared.

Remember the crap Ferrari was foisting as its best in the Eighties? Do you really think they’d have come back so strongly with the F355 and 360 Modena if there hadn’t been the NSX’s example to follow? Which car pioneered the use of aluminum construction? Which was the first to bring electronic variable valve timing to North America?

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Of course it was the NSX in both cases. And in the early Nineties, thanks to its amazing balance, humongous ability and surprising practicality, it was clearly the greatest car in production.

But at this point the NSX is seriously dated in significant ways. Hell, it’s one of the few cars out there with a tape deck AND NO CD PLAYER. But it’s been freshened for 2002, it remains one of the most engaging cars to drive ever built and it’s as close as any buyer can come to acquiring factory fresh, fully warranted automotive history.

What’s new

New High Intensity Discharge (HID) fixed-position headlights are the most obvious change to the NSX and they fill the hole that had been used by the pop-up headlamps elegantly. There’s also some subtle re-shaping of the hood, new front fascia, new chin spoiler and in the rear the turn signals are now isolated in their own circular housings and the spoiler and exhaust system’s appearance has been tweaked. Beyond that, there’s also the inevitable set of new wheels. The headlights are neat pieces of thermoplastic art, but the car itself is still instantly recognizable as an NSX or, more accurately an NSX-T as all NSXes coming to North America now feature a removable roof panel (though the disingenuous “T” – not for Targa – part of the name is gone).

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