When the last Acura NSX left showrooms in 2005, the automotive world waited with baited breath to see if there would be a successor. But in the nine years on, the mighty Acura is still stuck in complete development purgatory. Now though, the iconic Japanese supercar appears set for a return and we want to tell you all about it.
The Acura NSX – or as it is known everywhere that’s not America, the Honda NSX – has long been an odd-man-out in the supercar world. On paper the first-gen NSX, with its restrained-ish styling and demure V6, never seemed up to competing with the Porsches and Ferraris of the time. But those who drove the car, loved it. Better still, because it was built by Honda, you could actually drive the NSX every day without your butler in tow. collecting parts that fell off. The new one, though, looks to be a bit more … aggressive.
With that aggressiveness at the forefront of your mind, let’s delve into everything we know so far about the next-gen Acura NSX.
With three electric motors and a gasoline engine, the Acura NSX’s powertrain can charitably be called: complicated. Why the superabundance of motors? Well, like the marvels of modern science, the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918 Spyder, the NSX is a hybrid.
The NSX has one electric motor at each of the front wheels and one on the rear axle. With all those motors the NSX is, as you would expect, all-wheel drive. Unlike mechanical AWD systems, which are limited by the petty constraints of friction, the NSX will be able to respond at the speed of light. And because it uses separate electric motors for the front wheels, the AWD drive system can actually assist with not just handling but steering by sending continuously variable amounts of positive and torque to the wheels during hard cornering.
Like the original NSX, the majority of the power will come from a special race-derived twin-turbo V6. Even for a race-derived engine, this 3.5-liter is unusual. It purportedly uses an extremely wide angle between the cylinder banks, almost like a boxer motor. While this makes it less compact than narrow angle engines, it reduces vibration and allows the engine to rev higher, which is an important feature in an engine that has to both provide power directly to the wheels and charge batteries.
The supercar is likely to feature a dual-clutch transmission with at least seven gears. Though Acura isn’t releasing specifics the box, it is expected to be unique to the NSX.
So what does all this mean in terms of actual power? Acura has been cagey on releasing anything close to specific. The Acura RLX Sport Hybrid puts down 377 horsepower from its powertrain. I would be shocked if the NSX produced anything less than 500 hp.
Engineering & Production
If the next generation NSX ends up being anything like the original, it may be more about lightness than power.
The first concept for an NSX successor used a big-displacement V10, and seemed to be geared more towards power than lightness. But that car got the axe in 2010, thanks to a combination of doubts about its potential and Acura’s financial problems.
As a hint about the focus on lightness and agility, Acura has developed a Super GT racecar based on the new NSX, which uses a hybrid drive train and a miniscule 2.0-liter four-banger gas powerplant rather than a V6.
While the construction of the current car is still being kept secret, with the same sort of verve normally reserved for encryption codes, we can say a few things. Images show that the car makes ample use of carbon fiber and other composites more typically found in space programs than car factories. Acura has suggested that the target weight is around 3,200 pounds, less than a Ferrari 458 or an Audi R8.
In fact, an entire new facility has been chosen for the assembly of this space-aged car, the Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville Ohio … right down the street from the demanding Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
At Marysville, Acura will be doing something that Honda almost never does: making a convertible. Unlike the last NSX, which was only available as a targa or t-top, the new one will be available as a true drop top.
One of the big questions about the NSX is just where exactly it fits in the hierarchy of cars, is it a supercar, a hypercar, or just a sports car? Well to answer that question as best I can, I am going to take a leaf out of the sports journalists book, draft comparisons. In trying to evaluate the potential talent of athletes about to enter the league, analysts like to compare them to existing players.
So which existing car is the Acura most like? The Audi R8, and thats not just because Iron Man switched from an R8 to an NSX concept.
A lot of the speculation around the NSX has compared the car to the Ferrari 458 Italia or the McLaren MP4 12-C, which, despite the name, is a supercar rather than a fax machine. And while the NSX might actually approach or even supersede these cars in terms of performance, it is a very different sort of car.
Like the Audi R8, the NSX comes from a luxury carmaker rather than a company that exists solely to produce performance vehicles. When everyday automakers craft a supercar, they utilize technology use in the production of normal consumer cars.
And as a halo car, an NSX like the R8, will be intended to show off what Acura is doing elsewhere. An example of this is the Sport-Hybrid Super-Handling AWD badges that have shown up on the concept NSX.
The end result is likely to be a car that doesn’t just put down insane performance, but is also a car that you can live with. This is a speculation that is backed up by the rumored price, some outlets have speculated that the car might start at around $110,000, but this seems low to me.
If you can get an NSX for that little it will be a steal, or as much of a steal as anything that costs $110,000 can possibly be. I would expect the NSX to cost to be closer to that of an R8, or around $140,000. A lot of money to be sure, but still cheaper than its direct competitors.
So when will we actually know more? The running rumor is that the new NSX will finally be available in 2015, but after the long and painful development process, it is possible it might be longer.
Regardless, the NSX has every indication of being worth waiting for. The original car was something special, as indicated by the fact that you still see more of them on the road than just about any supercar from the period.
With its electric all-wheel drive and fire-breathing race car V6, the new one could be not just special, but better than anything else out there.