As a kid, I was never really into traditional sports cars. While others were content to stare slack-jawed at posters of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati, my tastes were a little more domestic. Less Italian passionate and more Detroit steel.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t have an appreciation for their precision craftsmanship or stellar performance, it was simply that I (personally) didn’t care for the styling. To me, many of them felt like the bastard offspring of a Formula One car and a Go-Bot.
So why, after all these years, do I suddenly find myself fascinated with the Acura NSX? Perhaps it’s true that ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’. Is it possible that a twelve-year-long absence from new model year offerings granted me the maturity to appreciate such a design? Who knows. But its redesign certainly managed to catch my eye, compelling me to ‘dig deeper’ into this next-generation beast to find out more about what makes it tick…and to rationalize the starting MSRP of $156,000.
Not that I have $156,000 lying around to spend on a car; but in case I come into some money, it’d be good for me to know if I should consider the NSX (or just default to buying two Challenger SRT Demons).
Looking It Over
Revisiting my earlier comments, the Acura NSX represents the first time that I have truly found myself intrigued with traditional sports car styling. While this iconic styling represents the apex of body design for many connoisseurs (and those who just want the bragging rights) it just didn’t do it for me.
And the previous generation NSX? Well, in all fairness, Acura’s offerings were basically all but absent from the vehicle wish-list I’ve been building for the better part of four decades. And let’s be honest, by the time the NSX had been sent for a nap, it had evolved to the design equivalent of a wedged door-stop. But those days are gone.
The new Acura NSX makes an immediate impression. While it is anything but a me-too, it utilizes some of the today’s more fashionable design notes to accent its classic form. Consider first its short, haunched and deep-sloping hood. While nothing uncommon in performance coupe styling, the elongated headlights angling downwards into to blacked out grille. Creating the effect of a gaping maw, Acura succeeds in evoking the sleek athleticism of a predatory animal. This is only accentuated by the positioning and design of the cooling vents and heat exchangers. The NSX looks lean. Hungry…
As you walk around it, the wealth of striking angles remain impactful. While they fall flush at a side-view, the openness of the floating C-pillars still manages to play a dominant role in side-stepping a design whose profile still includes elements that tiptoe around door-stop’ territory. In fact, the near absence of angles visible within a profile view on the NSX conveys a sleek, aerodynamic feel which is only furthered by the hint of fastback styling as you approach the rear. In other words, if you think the NSX looks hungry coming at you, it just looks fast as it goes past you to pursue some unseen prey.
And in a near-perfect bookend, the rear-end reaffirms why the NSX does more than just ‘look’ fast. Bold in its angular styling, it will leave passers-by in a state of awe. This is partially achieved by one of its most distinctive features, the visibility of the engine through the tinted rear window. And while they do more than simply contribute to its reduced drag, the venting carries serious visual cache, contouring rear body panels which might otherwise be overwhelming. Panning downward, the centrally-placed quad exhaust ties everything together (while serving up some nice modifiable settings for engine noise).
Overall, the design of the NSX represents a strong marriage of form and function. Visually impactful and well-engineered to encourage dynamic performance, it certainly looks the part of a sports car. But is it worth the $156 grand plus?
What’s On The Inside?
Any two-seater comes with some degree of expectation, in terms of how it creates, enhances and allocates space within a driver-centric cockpit. In the NSX, Acura strives for minimalism and achieves it with a refined tactfulness. Proving that less is more, no kitchen sinks were thrown.
The use of narrowed A-pillars creates an immersive panoramic view, which is further enhanced by the overall low position of the vehicle. Throwing off vibes of an espionage-ready sleeper vehicle, drivers might feel compelled to change lanes by driving underneath tractor trailers. For the record, I wouldn’t recommend it… Although I might like to see it.
Clad in leather, that low-seating is ergonomically designed for the comfort of both the driver and passenger, alike. In that regard, its complimented by the sculpted contour of an oblong, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Combined, these create a distinctive cabin-feel for the NSX. This is furthered by the narrow center console and the manner in which it extends into the control stack and dash. Minimalist? Sure. But are you left wanting? Not at all.
And with an infotainment system built around a 7-inch touchscreen and eight (or nine) speaker sound system, the diminutive cabin dimensions are nearly overwhelmed by its own range of acoustics.
But How Does It Perform?
Powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 mated to a nine-speed manual transmission, the NSX generates 500 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. That said, it is no mere sports coupe and carries hybrid functionality as well. This pumps those numbers up to 573 hp and 476 lb-ft, and it’s worth noting that (despite the output) the NSX still manages to serve up competitive fuel economy at 21 mpg combined. With a three-second sprint from 0-60 mph, it offers up some strong numbers across the board.
One of the NSX standout features comes from the all-wheel-drive functionality resulting from the twin-motor front axle. With each front-wheel equipped with its own electric motor, Acura adds a level of versatility and handling which may not be expected within the segment.
What is expected within this segment is some degree of engine growl. It is worth noting that the NSX offers very little, even with the customizable settings courtesy of the exhaust design. While this only serves to encourage the ‘sleeper’ vibe, it may be discouraging those that want the acoustic payoff in a performance vehicle.
There is very little about the Acura NSX that I don’t like. The combination of output and hybrid capability carries an instant appeal, as does its refined, high-end interior. And while I still remain surprised by it, I can’t find a single fault in its beautiful (yet purposeful) design.
Would I buy one? Absolutely.
Would I buy one at for $156K plus? Absolutely not. It’s a personal decision, but the Acura NSX falls into the category of vehicles I’d choose to love from afar. While there’s no shortage of compelling design notes and amenities, we are somewhat spoiled by the wealth and range of features included in many of today’s vehicles.
Acura aimed for minimalism and it succeeded. Minimal amenities, minimal engine roar. In some ways, I suppose it could be argued that the NSX is a victim of its own refinement. While I wouldn’t change a thing about its design, I’d be more likely to pony up if it were closer to the $100K mark.