Originally dubbed the New Sports Experimental, the original NSX shattered expectations for what an affordable supercar could be — or rather, should be. The new, second generation 2016 NSX has lofty expectations to live up to.
This morning Acura took the sheets off the single piece of machinery that will actually get Americans excited about the Acura brand: the NSX. Not just interested in, mind you, but excited about. The original NSX debuted 25 years ago next month, redefining the supercar paradigm in the process and creating a vehicle that changed people’s perception of the Honda brand.
Now the second-gen NSX will come out under Honda’s luxury brand, Acura, but they are ensuring the mid-engine supercar reflects all of the touch points that made the original legend so respected. This is the car that Ferrari allegedly bought and took apart piece-by-piece, in order to emulate the level of exact execution and finish. Some argue the NSX is the car most responsible for elevating the storied Italian marque from maker of exotic but flawed performance machines into the maker of exotic but flawless performance machines.
Fitting that Acura chose the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS) to debut the vehicle, as the NSX will be very American-centric. Not only was it developed entirely in the USA, but it will also be built in the USA — at Acura’s new Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Marysville, Ohio. A supercar built in America? Not common, but Acura brass were adamant to stress that the NXS will be a vehicle that reflects Acura’s well-established American roots.
“The NSX makes a powerful statement about the strong role being played by our North American operations in envisioning and building the future of Acura,” Executive VP Erik Berkman broadcasted from the NAIAS stage this morning. “Starting today, you will see Acura focus even more strongly on our core values and DNA as a ‘challenger’ brand — breaking some rules, and doing the unexpected to create new value for luxury buyers. Moving forward, you can expect premium products that place even greater emphasis on dynamic design, premium content and exhilarating performance.”
And that clearly starts with the second gen NSX.
The NSX Concept originally shown back in 2012 was considerably different from the final dress version that Acura unwrapped today. Through the car’s development it has gone through a number of different powertrains, and even a major engine placement switch. The second gen NSX has flirted with a naturally aspirated V6, and even a V10 — mounted on the front, no less, to the great consternation of NSX purists everywhere. But that has all changed considerably, with Acura moving from a transverse-mounted engine to a longitudinally mounted one. Oh, and they also bolted on twin turbochargers, and developed a first-in-class 9-speed dual clutch transmission.
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“In the process of swallowing the extra motors & gears, the new NSX has grown larger…”
But most innovatively, Acura engineers have created what they dub their Sport Hybrid Power Unit. The three-electric-motor system houses an electric motor that directly drives the rear wheels, while twin electric motors are attached to each front wheel. As with the electric-enhanced systems of otherworldly hypercars such as the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 and Ferrari LaFerrari, these electric motors provide instant torque for jet-like, zero delay boost off the line. The front wheel-mounted e-motors also provide powerful torque vectoring in corners, creating what Acura calls Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).
Playing somewhat coy with final figures, Acura said only that the NSX would boast “over 550 hp”.
In the process of swallowing the extra motors and gears, the new NSX has swollen an inch wider, 0.8 inches longer in wheelbase and 3.1 inches longer overall. It has also grown 0.6 inches taller. Like the OG NSX — which stakes claim as the first all-aluminum production vehicle ever — the 2016 NSX features world-first materials and innovative constructions. Its multi-material chassis is comprised of an aluminum intensive spaceframe complimented with the strategic use of high-strength steel and carbon fiber. Not only does this provide great rigidity, but it also offers Best In Class center of gravity. Combined with the all-aluminum suspension and SH-AWD, the NSX should boast superlative handling capabilities.
As the original NSX redefined what it meant to be a supercar, Acura executives promise that the connection between man and machine will be “intense, immediate and personal” — a very human-centered supercar, based on the concept of human fit. While the interior is nothing stunning in terms of materials or design, it is very driver centric, crafted to reward drivers of all skill levels. Clean visibility was a paramount requirement, its thin A-pillar — constructed of ultra-high-strength steel — allowing for world-class visibility in a segment that often fails to supply it.
Given the three-motor Sport Hybrid system, the supercar runs real hot — so torrid, in fact, that the NSX requires 10 cooling units to keep it from overheating. A matrix of intakes, vents and air tunnels attempt to not only wick heat away, but also provide excellent downforce for cornering (as seen in the floating C-pillars). Hood vents were nearly tripled in size, and moved to better cool the engine.
Other niceties include carbon ceramic Brembo brakes (six-piston up front, four-piston in the rear), heritage taillights, paddle shifters, launch control and a dial-operated Integrated Dynamic System (with Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track modes). Acura will begin accepting custom orders for the new NSX starting this summer, with deliveries expected to begin later in the year. Pricing has yet to be officially set, but expect a starting tag in the mid-$150.
A certain Mr. Seinfeld trying to get the first pair of keys to the second generation Acura NSX