2017 Acura NSX: Twin Turbo Sports Car Deserves Supercar Consideration

By Mike Blake - Carlisle Events
Thursday, January 12, 2017


Automotive enthusiasts have a tendency to be excited by dynamic vehicles and often anoint them with the term “supercar.” This leads to what I perceive as an overuse or misuse of the term. Having said that, a new imagining of an old vehicle certainly deserves consideration of the supercar label for its design, innovation, driving excitement and its horsepower -- 573hp. That vehicle is the 3-engine, 2017 Acura NSX.

The original Acura NSX debuted in 1990 as a cutting-edge coupe combining exotic car styling and performance with a new dimension of quality, exceptional ergonomics and dynamic poise. It underwent a performance upgrade in 1997 and facelift in 2002 before being discontinued in 2005. NSX is back for 2017 as a lightweight, naturally aspirated coupe that can be perceived as a hybrid supercar, with a twin-turbo engine combined with a hybrid setup, and dual-clutch transmission. The new NSX rides on an aluminum-intensive space frame with a carbon fiber floor and a body designed to direct airflow over, under, and through the car including cooling duties.

Winter weather closed my test track, so I was unable to prove the estimated top speed of 191mph or the manufacturer’s estimate of a 3-second-flat zero-60mph sprint; and the NSX probably should be tested in spring or summer to fully enjoy the experience; but we never look gift horsepower in the trunk, so an exciting ride in winter was better than no ride at all.

Designed with elegance, NSX is constructed with a multi-material space frame of cast aluminum nodes and a mix of light aluminum and low-density SMC outer panels. The architecture features a wedge shape 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). Complex high-performance aluminum castings for crush zones is the world's first automotive application of the technique, as are the A-pillars made from 3DQ ultra-high-strength steel and a use of Carbon Fiber front floor panels.

Sitting on a wheelbase of 103.5 inches, with a length of 178 inches, height of 47.8 inches, width of 87.3 inches and a curbweight of only 3803 lbs., the NSX provides stability and speed by managing air flow through the front motor room and rear engine room as well as around the body, while still maintaining the increased stability of properly distributed downforce. Stability at speed is what the NSX delivers with exceptional balance and confidence to enhance the driving experience.

And there’s exceptional power. Maximum total system power is 573hp with maximum total system torque of 476 lb.-ft. The next-generation Sport Hybrid SH-AWD power unit consists of an all-new longitudinally mid-mounted twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 that puts out 500 hp and 406 lb.-ft of torque, and a permanent-magnet, water-cooled electric motor/generator direct drive motor. This system delivers 47hp and 109 lb.-ft. and is mated to a 9-speed dual-clutch transmission

On the road, stability is track-worthy and acceleration is immediate with the electric motors engaging before the twin turbos kick in. In tight quick turns you have to be on your toes because there is a lot of understeer, but the system softens torque steer and I wouldn’t be surprised if the 3-second factory hype on a zero-to-60 sprint is close to reality. My road-hugging pedal mashing averaged 20.7mpg in town and on the interstates.

The NSX cockpit is cozy, elegant, intuitive and filled with electronics. With seating capacity for two, NSX provides 38.3 inches of headroom, 42.8 inches of legroom, 57.6 inches of shoulder room and 54.5 inches of hip room.

Intuitive instrumentation, Alcantara® leather, well-padded sports seats, steering wheel and center console, exemplary ergonomics and a center console/control set-up designed to minimize distractions from the most important function – driving – combines with state-of-the-art connectivity and infotainment and more than a dozen active and passive safety features to provide a super interior experience.

In Curva Red – there’s not much better than a red sportscar -- the 2017 Acura NSX starts at $156,000. The Ebony interior was enhanced by Semi-Aniline Full Leather Alcantara® power seats for an additional $2500. Pricey exclusive wheel designs were available but the standard Y-spoke wheels were classy as they were. Brake packages for $10,000 or more were available, but the standard iron rotors with Black calipers served my test ride well. The Exterior Sports Package with a Black front spoiler, Black side sills, Black rear diffuser and chrome exhaust finisher was pretty cool, and we did without the $9000 Carbon Fiber rendition of the package. The same can be said for the body color rear decklid that was kept rather than to upgrade to Carbon Fiber for an additional $3000, as well as the spiffy NSX engine cover that could have been upgrade to Carbon Fiber for $3000. The standard interior package included a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Metallic Silver steering wheel spokes, Alcantara® meter visor and Black rubber pedals and footrest. An available Carbon Fiber upgrade was not included and would have cost $2900. One upgrade that was made on my test ride was an ELS Studio® Audio +Tech + SiriusXM Package for $3300 that upgraded a standard premium audio system to an ELS Studio® Premium Audio System with AcuraLink® The Next Generation, navigation, proximity sensors and XM Radio. A Black Aluminum roof antenna was also added as was Illuminated door sill trim inside (and this time Carbon Fiber was included) for $1500. Destination handling is $1800, which put the price as tested at $165,100.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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