2017 Acura NSX Review

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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 30, 2017


The 2017 Acura NSX puts the classic nameplate through a worm hole, and trades all its undiluted mechanical purity for astonishing all-wheel-drive hybrid performance.

It's taken a full generation in people years, but there's a new Japanese supercar hitting the streets in the form of the 2017 Acura NSX.

It shares the same initials, but the new NSX is almost nothing like its forebear. It's a halo car, true, but it's one that replaces the mechanical purity of the original for a wildly synthetic driving feel—really, a masterful performance of integrating turbos, servos, clutches, gears, motors, and batteries.

Overall, the Acura NSX scores a solid 8.4 out of 10 in our testing. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Review continues below

It's one of the most complex pieces of car engineering on the planet, but the new NSX feels remarkably of a piece. It's an even-tempered supercar, one capable of shattering acceleration and speed.

The new NSX is a rival for cars like the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder in terms of engineering, but in the real world, it runs with supercars like the Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo, even the BMW i8. You know, practical supercars.

Acura NSX styling

The NSX is the best-looking Acura in a generation. Its influences deserve to play out far and wide across the Acura lineup.

The body uses aluminum and composite exterior panels and is offered with an optional carbon fiber roof. Acura designed the body to minimize aerodynamic drag while also balancing front and rear downforce. Cooling was also a major consideration in the design.

The result is a wedge-shaped car with prominent cooling ducts on the rear fenders, a conservative rear spoiler, and no active aero components (such as an active rear spoiler or active front grille shutters).

The front end features a stylish take on Acura's beak-style grille, flanked by large air intakes and LED headlights. Air flowing over the roof and down the rear hatch glass is captured to cool the engine compartment and clutch cooler. At the rear, a diffuser works with the spoiler and taillight slots to generate downforce.

Acura calls the cockpit "human-centric," saying that the design is ergonomically enhanced for the driver and passenger and claiming that it has enough head room for a 95th-percentile adult male.

The cabin is upscale, with many surfaces covered in leather and/or Alcantara. The controls on the center console are arranged in a "Simple Sports Interface" and designed to limit distractions.

Acura NSX performance

The 2017 Acura NSX does an astonishing job of stuffing all its hybrid and all-wheel-drive hardware into a scorching, grippy performance envelope.

The powertrain consists of a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 that puts out 500 horsepower. It uses dry sump lubrication, which allows it to sit lower in the chassis and protect against oil starvation during performance driving. Between it and a 9-speed dual-clutch transmission is a 47-horsepower electric motor that can aid the engine or act as a generator to charge the lithium-ion battery.

An additional twin-motor unit is located at the front. Each motor provides 36 horsepower to one front wheel, and power constantly varies between the front wheels to give the car a distinct version of all-wheel drive with torque vectoring—which Acura dubs "Super Handling-All Wheel Drive"—that can help the car turn more readily into corners. The twin-motor unit can assist the engine for a total output of 573 horsepower, or can power the car on its own in light load situations.

While the midship engine was mounted transversely in the first-generation NSX, this one is mounted longitudinally in the car's aluminum spaceframe. The lithium-ion battery is mounted vertically behind the driver, and weight balance is 42 percent front/58 percent rear. A drive control unit sits between the passengers, and dictates how power is shuffled from the batteries to the front motors.

The suspension consists of a front double-wishbone design and a multi-link rear, with active adaptive dampers at all four corners. The steering has electric power assist and variable gear ratios.

Brembo provides the brakes, using 14.5-inch ventilated rotors with six-piston, two-piece calipers up front and 14-inch ventilated rotors with four-piston monoblock calipers at the rear. Continental Conti-Sport Contact 5P tires are standard, 245/35R19s up front and 305/30R20s out back. Pirelli mid-line tires are an option, while sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are the most expensive treads, destined for track use.

An Integrated Dynamics System is standard as well. It has Quiet, Sport, Sport +, and Track modes, each of which controls various vehicle systems to achieve the desired results. The affected systems are the steering, brakes (mechanical and regen), stability control, dampers, engine, transmission, and SH-AWD. Quiet mode prioritizes efficiency and allows electric-only driving at lower speeds. While the engine comes on when needed, it is limited to 4,000 rpm in this mode.

The net of all of this is a well-ordered supercar with handling as progressive as its worldview. It melds electric and gas power into a seamless stream of scorching supercar performance. Versions with base tires have been said to oversteer; our driving on mid-line tires mostly nullified that claim. The NSX likes to be driven rhythmically, with even inputs, early turn-in and throttle lift, and lots of trail-braking. 

It's an exceptional piece of powertrain integration, from the melding of hybrid to gas power, regenerative braking to carbon-ceramic friction stopping power. All the digital inputs get relayed to the semi-analog world without a stutter. The NSX can be driven quickly without feeling nervous or twitchy. If there's such a beast as a "tame supercar," this is it.

Acura NSX comfort, safety, and features

The NSX is astonishingly quiet in its city-driving mode, and the cabin's sized well for two passengers. There's a modicum of storage space for weekend bags, but the low-slung cockpit renders the rear views almost opaque. The rearview camera and parking sensors are absolute necessities.

As of yet, there's no crash-test data for the new NSX, and safety gear is missing some of the latest technology. All cars get the usual airbags and stability control, as well as a multi-angle rearview camera, but those parking sensors are one of many options that cause the price to balloon.

At a base price of more than $158,000, the NSX comes with cruise control; keyless ignition; a manual tilt and telescoping steering column; dual-zone automatic climate control; and LED ambient interior lighting. The infotainment system has a 7.0-inch touchscreen display audio system, Bluetooth audio streaming, two USB ports, HD radio, Siri Eyes Free voice control, Apple Car Play, and Google Android Auto.

With options, the 2017 NSX can float toward the $200,000 mark. Options include satellite radio; carbon-ceramic brakes; a carbon-fiber roof; a carbon-fiber engine cover; a carbon-fiber rear spoiler; and an Alcantara headliner. A Technology Package adds a nine-speaker ELS audio system, navigation, AcuraLink telematics service, and front and rear parking sensors.

With a plan to sell just 800 cars a year in the U.S., the new NSX's huge premium over the original doesn't matter much, not in a world of Audi R8s and 911 Turbos wearing similar stickers. The NSX will be exceedingly rare for at least a couple of years, while cars trickle out of the Ohio facility that's essentially hand-building them.

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