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Rumored Acura NSX Type R could go rear-wheel drive

The Acura NSX hybrid supercar is an impressive technological achievement, but early reviews haven’t been wholly positive. Acura’s finest has been criticized for a lack of character and aggression. But the hardcore Type R model whispered about practically since the NSX was first revealed could cure that.

There is a “huge will” within Acura parent Honda to build an NSX Type R, reports Autocar. The NSX is sold as a Honda outside the U.S., and a Type R version of the previous generation was distributed in those overseas markets as well. While it hasn’t gotten the green light for sale anywhere, the new Type R could be a radical departure from the car Acura just launched, and something U.S. fans won’t want to miss out on.

The standard NSX has an all-wheel drive hybrid powertrain including a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission, and three electric motors. An NSX Type R would reportedly ditch the front motors, reducing weight and giving the car a livelier, rear-wheel drive setup. The third motor, which is mounted behind the transmission, would remain. It helps drive the rear wheels and smooth out the transmission’s shifts in the stock NSX.

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Engineers could also make more extensive use of lightweight materials to bring curb weight down further. The NSX already features body panels made of aluminum and Sheet Molding Compound, and a chassis that’s mostly aluminum and high-strength steel, but that may not be enough. The Type R is envisioned as a track car that could go head to head with the Porsche 911 GT3, NSX Dynamic Development Leader Nick Robinson said.

He also said there has already been some experimentation with a rear-wheel drive NSX. The car apparently has a “maintenance mode” that Robinson likens to a video game cheat code. It shuts off all of the electric-motor assist, defaulting the car to rear-wheel drive. Honda also reportedly plans to enter a modified NSX with no hybrid components in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year.

Speaking of racing, an NSX Type R might also make sense if Honda or Acura follows through on rumored plans to race the new supercar long term. The company is reportedly preparing a version of the NSX for the popular GT3 class in both the U.S. and Europe. It will probably be easier for Acura to certify a non-hybrid version because it would be directly comparable to other cars in the class, and a road going Type R version would make for a nice marketing opportunity.