The Halo Effect
All-new Acura NSX’s 190 mph precision package
Posted on January 25, 2017
It seems such a short time since Honda first launched its Acura luxury brand. But 1986 was a full 30 years ago, and Acura has had its ups and downs over the decades. One high water mark was the 1991 unveiling of the NSX sports car. The name is an acronym for “New Sports experience” — a fun fact to share at your next gear head gathering.
A Ferrari Alternative?
When the NSX hit the pavement back then, I wasn’t alone in thinking the car was not only as good as the more expensive Ferrari 348, but better in terms of reliability and cost of ownership.
Now it’s Acura’s second bite at the apple to challenge the supercar power structure and polish its brand image. This time the NSX compares favorably with Ferrari’s $1.4 million LaFerrari, McLaren’s $1.35 million P1, and Porsche’s $931,000 918. All are limited-production supercar hybrids. The NSX is priced closer to earth at $156,000, just a bit higher than rivals from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW. That’s exactly where Jon Ikeda, Acura VP and general manager, wants the car and the overall brand to compete.
The Right Stuff
After two false concept car starts in 2007 and 2012, Ikeda and his team reengineered the car. They developed a 500-horsepower, twin-turbocharged engine, a nine-speed, dual-clutch transmission, and three electric motors, one in the rear for punch and one at each front wheel for a bit more power and torque vectoring to enhance cornering capability. This torque vectoring adds an amazing amount of grip in a turn. A sophisticated digital system delivers added power to the outside wheel while tasking the inside wheel to switch to regeneration mode. The combination pulls the NSX around turns. It’s the same high technology found in its $1 million rivals.
I drove our test NSX directly from a display at a recent automotive technology conference in Silicon Valley. I entered the nicely turned-out interior with relative ease, adjusted the seat, mirrors, and steering position, and pressed the start button. The powerful V6 sprang to life with that wonderful, throaty announcement you expect from a supercar.
It’s a very comfortable, easy car to drive in everyday traffic or on a trip to a fun destination. Four driving modes are available — Quiet, Sport, Sport+, and Track. I didn’t have an opportunity to track the NSX, but from some quick but safe aggressive driving through nearby mountain roads, it’s the real thing. It boasts a sub three-second dash to 60mph with a great howl of power, and Brembo brakes clamp on carbon ceramic rotors for fade-free control.
Acura’s supercar gauntlet is brilliantly tossed. It’s more sophisticated and interesting than German rivals and compares well with the exotics. I think they’re on the right path. Brian Douglas
Acura and Ford Tri Motor: Photography by Brian Douglas All other photography courtesy of Acura