2016 Acura NSX Review


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2016 Acura NSX Overview

After 8 years of development, three engine changes, and fully 3 years after it was advertised during the 2012 Superbowl, the 2016 Acura NSX is finally coming to market. The new NSX is a hybrid supercar, as is currently the fashion. The long tease has done the legendary model no favors, but perhaps with such a long gestation period, the result will be that much better.

When the first NSX was revealed, the European supercar industry had a collective heart attack. Here was a car that looked as good as or better than what they were producing, was just as amazing on the road, and used modern, reliable components built by a company with the best reputation for quality in the world. Oh, and it cost a lot less than the vehicles it was aiming to compete with in the marketplace.

The new NSX shares almost nothing with the original that was launched in 1990 other than three letters, and its arrival does not scare the supercar makers like Porsche, McLaren, and Ferrari one bit. All three brought hybrid-powered super-green hypercars to market well before Acura. Price is no longer the issue it once was, since every automaker now making hypercars also produces supercars and premium GTs at price points to match the wallets of the uber-rich, super-rich, and questionably rich.

The new 2016 NSX starts with a multi-alloy space frame and carbon fiber floor. Acura says that 100 skilled craftsmen then build a car around that. The old idea that the best cars are mainly carbon fiber or aluminum has faded, and now the top cars in the world use whatever exotic material works best for the particular component being fashioned. For example, the NSX’s A-pillar is a 3-dimensionally formed super high-strength steel component. Some of the key structural components use a new ablation-casting process that offers the rigidity of a cast metal, but the ductility of a formed aluminum part. The body is made from sheet molded compound (plastic) and aluminum. An optional carbon fiber roof rounds out the shell.

The drivetrain of the NSX is difficult to categorize. It includes a rear-mounted 3.5-liter V6 engine with two turbochargers. The engine is technically mid-mounted, since it's forward of the rear axles, but the transaxle sticks out behind the rear axles. An electric motor is between the V6 and the 9-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. We are not done yet. Up front, there are two more electric motors that drive the front wheels. So in total we now have four motors including the V6. Yet Honda calls this car’s drivetrain its “3-motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).” There are 10 heat exchangers to cool all those motors. Total power is about 550 hp, and the torque will be amazing given the three electric motors to drive the four wheels.

The body of the 2016 NSX incorporates what Acura calls Total Airflow Management. The idea is that the form is not just aerodynamic, but also that the four energy-producing motors use the air flowing around the car. Acura says that the airflow around the NSX is channeled in such a way that the energy (heat) from the drivetrain and brakes is extracted with maximum efficiency. The company invested the equivalent of a year’s worth of computational time to achieve the results. The V6 engine alone uses three radiators into and out of which air must flow. Acura says that it has achieved top-of-class drag and downforce.

When the 1990 NSX debuted, one of the most striking features of the car was its interior. Although made from the finest materials and crafted to be the best in the world, it was simple. One could get in and out of the NSX without contortion. Once inside, the NSX had the same excellent ergonomics one might find in a Legend or even an Integra. The car worked. Many of the supercars of that era were basket cases inside. The new 2016 NSX now competes with supercars that benefit from both the most advanced electronics and also the most detail-crafted interiors. The bar is much higher.

The interior of the 2016 NSX features a panoramic view of the road, thanks in part to the aforementioned thin A-pillar. The aluminum and leather trim has a thoroughly modern look. The driver’s information screen is a thin-film-transistor (TFT) screen that offers a brighter view and also shows motion more smoothly than older technologies. The secondary center-stack screen has the same functionality and apps as the new Civic and Fit, according to those who have seen it.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the 2016 NSX might be its price. Rumors are that it might be in the mid-$150K range. That would again undercut the rest of the supercar world and put the NSX into direct competition with cars like BMW’s i8, which, after just a few months of sales, has redefined the idea of a vehicle that's hard to enter and exit. Maybe what the NSX does best compared to its peers hasn’t changed that much after all.


John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. In the early 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric race car from scratch. In addition to his work at CarGurus, John covers automotive news at Torque News and GM-trucks.com and is a contributor to CarTalk and BestRide. Aside from all things automotive, John loves fishing and hockey, preferably in the company of his two boys.

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