2002 Acura NSX Photo
Quick Take
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by Dan Carney

Acura plunged into the supercar market in 1991, introducing the mid-engine NSX at a time that the company's engine dominated Formula One racing. Facing Ferrari fortnightly on the world's race tracks emboldened Honda to challenge the fabled sports car builder in showrooms, with a car styled to look like a sanitized interpretation of a Maranello machine.

A decade later the 2001 NSX was unchanged from its introduction, as if trapped in amber and preserved for later study. The flat, angular exterior styling, influenced by the Lotus Esprit of the mid-'70s looked even more dated in the 21st century than it had earlier.

The interior styling, with its equally angular dashboard now looks straight from a teenager's old Integra. Completing the illusion of time travel is the stereo, laid out in the traditional (and underrated) fashion with volume knob on the left and tuning knob on the right. Fair enough, but the slot in between looks oddly fat. That's because the Bose stereo still includes a cassette tape player, and not a CD player (a trunk-mounted CD changer is optional). In the NSX's world, circa 1991, there are still fortunes to be made and lost on something called "the Internet." Thank goodness eight-tracks were already dead by the time the NSX debuted.

This year’s model

Honda has tantalized us for a few years with rumors of a V-8-powered NSX replacement, but when the revised 2002 model debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show last fall, the old warhorse had received a nose job and tail tuck. The automotive equivalent of Lasik surgery upgraded the old car's out-of-vogue pop-up halogen headlights with some stylish fixed high-intensity-discharge beams. As always, the HID lights are a dramatic improvement.

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