2017 Acura NSX

Should Acura even have this car? Ailing Acura strikes us as a brand in need of reinvention from the bottom up, starting with a new Integra, the car that the people have crowned as the real keeper of Acura’s flame. Instead, Honda’s luxury brand is starting its long journey back to relevance from the top, with a hybrid supercar that will sell for more than $150,000. It’ll be a tall poppy in a showroom where the next-priciest vehicle starts at $51,870, but it’s too late to dig up old arguments about priorities. We’ve finally moved past the drawings and concepts, beyond the prototypes, and on to what the aviation industry calls the flight article. This is it, the real deal, a drivable Acura NSX with a key that has been placed in our hands. So we’ll put aside the academic critique and just go pound pavement.

What we’re about to drive is a distillation of Honda’s inner feelings at this moment. After some dark years of uncertainty, the company is ruminating on past glories, on Marlboro McLarens with Ayrton and Alain, racing bikes with oval pistons, and absurdly exquisite lawn equipment. Honda wants to be spoken of with awe again, to show the world that it’s back as a technology and performance powerhouse ready to both amaze the world and till its flowerbeds.

An aborted prototype with the transverse V-6 out of an Odyssey minivan died in mid-2012 because it couldn’t deliver amazement, and a crash program to reinvent the NSX ensued. The 2017 NSX, developed mainly in Ohio by a small group that has come to think of itself as a family, is a four-wheel-drive hybrid-electric knee to the pants of the world’s fanciest exotics. Its creators sincerely hope you like it, as do their loved ones, whom they haven’t seen in two years.

This is a prime example of filter-down technology. The layout of the three electric motors onboard—two on the front axle and a third between the twin-turbo V-6 and the nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox—echoes that of the late, great $850,000 Porsche 918 Spyder, promising many of the benefits for a fraction of the price. Those benefits include rapid torque vectoring, continuous thrust assist to smooth over turbo lag and torque changes during upshifts, a modicum of fuel efficiency, and, if desired, silent operation for brief periods. Someday, this stuff will be in a Civic, but for now at least, the price tag has slid under $200,000. Read more...



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10 Feb 2017

By Aaron Robinson