The Acura NSX is one step closer to its return as Honda has released the technical details for its hybrid sports car right on the eve of the Tokyo Motor Show. A quarter of a century has come and gone since the NSX made its debut, but it has already been 10 years since this model was last produced.
The second-generation Acura NSX will be made in Ohio and arrives next year as a 2017 model. To that end, we’ll take a look back at all things NSX and give you a preview of what’s to come.
First-Generation Acura NSX
Acura was a relatively new brand when the NSX was released in 1990. The marque, then limited to North America, meant that the sports car was sold as the Honda NSX elsewhere.
Planning for the NSX began in 1984 when Honda hired the Italian car design firm Pininfarina to design the Honda Pininfarina eXperimental (HP-X), a concept car that became the New Sportscar eXperimental (NS-X) prototype. Honda insisted on building a mid-engine car that could compete with Europe’s finest sports cars, with the Ferrari 328 initially identified as the performance target.
To optimize visibility, Honda required a cab forward design, with the F-16 jet fighter benchmarked for its 360-degree visibility. In a weight saving move, Honda opted for an all-aluminum body, which was a first for a production car. Aluminum suspension arms provided further weight savings and various other cutting-edge technologies such as titanium connecting rods, electric power steering and a four-channel anti-lock brake system were adopted.
Honda made the original NSX work with just six cylinders, but thanks to its then new VTEC technology and 8,000 rpm, the NSX immediately found its sweet spot. Fifteen years of production meant that changes were accomplished in small numbers with the original 3.0-liter V6 (270 horsepower) joined by a 3.2-liter engine (290 horsepower) starting in 1998. A five-speed manual gave way to a six-speed, and a 4-speed automatic was also available.
Just over 18,000 NSXs were sold worldwide throughout the first generation’s model run. Production, limited to 25 vehicles per day, never approached demand and that is why a 2005 edition in very good condition should still fetch about $65,000 today. That’s not bad for a vehicle that sold for $89,000 new.
Acura NSX: Next Generation
Honda announced that it would discontinue the NSX by year’s end in July 2005, which broke the hearts of enthusiasts the world over. At the same time, the automaker stated that a new model was in the works. Several prototypes and more than a decade later, the 2017 NSX is almost here.
This time around, Honda relied on a global team of designers to develop the NSX with studios in Japan, Ohio and Los Angeles. The automaker tasked each studio with different responsibilities. Its exterior seems like a cross between a Porsche Cayman and the Acura RLX, taking on the former’s silhouette and the latter’s fascia, especially the jewel-eye headlamps. Other outstanding features include huge lower air intakes, oversized side air intakes, pronounced body sculpting and the thinnest of front pillars. The NSX also has a conspicuous rear haunch, a dramatic tail lamp design and an artistically crafted and highly functional diffuser.
Powering this sports car is a longitudinally mounted 3.5-liter V6 engine with two turbos. The team didn’t stop there: a pair of front-mounted electric motors sit back-to-back on the front axle and power the front wheels, while a third electric motor is positioned between the engine and the nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. A mechanical limited-slip differential also sits in the back.
Fast and Furious
The result is a robust, all-wheel drive sports car making 573 horsepower. Add in 476 pound-feet of torque and this sports car should satiate your need for speed.
The first-generation NSX recorded 0-to-60 mph times as low as 4.8 seconds and quarter-miles at 13.3 seconds. Journalists have reported that the 2017 NSX accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 3 seconds, with Acura hinting at the same. There is no official word yet on quarter-mile times, but a top speed of 191 mph is expected.
The NSX benefits from an all-aluminum double-wishbone suspension up front and a multilink arrangement at the rear. Also present are magnetic, adjustable dampers with two settings and four drive modes. Those modes influence suspension firmness, throttle responsiveness, brake operation, the steering ratio and the exhaust note. The Quiet and Sport modes are where electric-only drive is experienced. Sport+ and Track modes add progressively more power, courtesy of the gas engine.
Sports Car Cockpit
Inside, the lightweight, open and airy cockpit is adorned with leather seats with Alcantara inserts, the latter placed in the center of the seats to improved lateral grip. Smoother leather is grafted to the bolsters, which is a move that Acura says permits “torso rotation during cornering.” Bringing it all to a stop are massive carbon ceramic rotors — 15 inches up front and 14.2 inches at the rear — with Brembo aluminum monoblock calipers pressing in six pistons up front and four pistons at the rear.
The steering wheel is wrapped in carbon fiber and leather with a squared-off bottom, while paddle shifters are at the ready. Instrumentation is represented by a digital speedometer and a tachometer on a thin-film transistor (TFT) screen with analog gauges for the coolant and fuel level. The center console is marked by a 7-inch color display with the controls designed and ergonomically placed to minimize distraction.
2017 Acura Price Estimate
Beyond the technological information, Acura has yet to announce a price. Several publications list an estimated $155,000 price tag, but we’re awaiting official confirmation from Acura. In any case, the second-generation NSX is a guaranteed hit and this time it will proudly wear the Acura name worldwide.