2016 Acura NSX: The Legend Reborn
Acura NSX, since its release until its discontinuation in 2005, left a mark that made it a favorite of many and its following remained strong over the years. Even though Honda ceased production of the NSX in 2005, the company never abandoned the concepts embodied by this automotive legend.
In the years that followed, there were rumors of a next-generation NSX, but they never seemed to come to fruition. When whispers began to circulate that Honda would be putting the NSX back into production, industry insiders took the news with a grain of salt. Imagine their surprise when an official announcement was made. There was not a lot of news coming from Honda, either. The company played it close to the vest for months.
Even after the revamped NSX debuted at the Detroit Motor Show at the beginning of this year, little information was provided about the actual specifications although terms such as “beast” and “high-performance” were frequently used by those who had a sneak peek. At the Society of Automotive Engineer’s World Congress in April 2015, however, more details emerged. The next generation NSX looks very promising indeed. In this article, we will give you a roundup of all the information available on the new NSX, but first, let’s head back to the original model and give you a brief overview.
The Original NSX
The NSX began its life as a collaboration between Honda and Pininfarina, an Italian automotive design company, in 1984. Honda’s goal was to produce a reliable car that could perform at least as well as the Ferrari 328 but at a more affordable price (this is actually happening again with the new NSX now). Achieving those goals meant that Honda had to call on its long history as well as incorporate a number of innovations. The resulting specifications read like a dream.
- First production car with an ultra-light (but ultra-rigid) all aluminum chassis.
- Wishbone suspension on both front and rear.
- First production car to feature titanium connecting rods in the engine.
- 8,000 rpm redline.
- Cockpit-forward design.
- All-aluminum 270 HP V6 VTEC engine.
- 5-speed manual transmission.
In 1989, the company finally unveiled the NSX — first, at the Chicago Auto Show in February under the name “NS-X” and then in October at the Tokyo Motor Show. The reviews were very positive and the anticipation was running high, but it would take another two years for the NS-X to become available in the United States under its flagship name, the Acura NSX.
Changes to NSX over the Years
Over the years, Honda made several changes to the cars destined for sales in the U.S. The most notable of these were:
- 1995 NSX-T: Added a removable targa top, replacing the coupe as the sole version (with limited exceptions) sold in North America for the duration of the NSX’s run.
- 1997 Performance Upgrades: The model’s most significant performance upgrades were made. They included a 3.2-liter engine, a reconfigured exhaust manifold, a 6-speed manual transmission and introduction of a lighter (but stronger) aluminum alloy for the fenders, hood, doors and trunk lids. When tested by “Road and Track” the 1997, NSX-T turned out to be the fastest NSX to have ever been tested in North America.
- 1999 “Alex Zanardi” edition: Only 51 of these cars were built to commemorate driver’s Alex Zanardi’s wins for the Honda/Acura racing teams. The first car went to Zanardi himself, and the remaining cars were only sold in the U.S. This special edition NSX featured a fixed roof, manual rack-and-pinion steering and lightweight aluminum alloy wheels.
- 2002 Facelift: The modifications made to cars destined for the U.S. market were relatively minor. A 4-speed automatic with manual-type shift option was offered, and the number of color options increased. New headlights, changes to the suspension system and slightly wider tires on the rear were the most noteworthy changes.
In July 2005, Honda announced that it would cease production of the NSX by the end of the year.
The last units produced for the U.S. rolled off the assembly line in December. In a press release, Honda stated that the 2006 equipment and emissions standards in Asia, Europe and North America were so stringent that extensive retooling would be necessary to meet them.
The New Acura NSX
Almost as soon as the time that production on the NSX ended, Honda began exploring ways to resurrect it with an updated, improved version. Numerous plans were initiated, revised, and ultimately, abandoned.
- December 2007: An official announcement was made that a new supercar, based on a concept introduced earlier in the year at the North American International Auto Show, would be on the market by 2010. The new design would feature a V-10 engine and was planned to challenge Porsche and Ferrari.
- June 2008: Prototypes of the supercar were tested on the Nürburgring. It was considered the most powerful design that Honda/Acura had ever made in a production model.
- December 2008: Amid a global economic downturn, the company decided that producing a car with a sales price in six figures might not be a sound business decision. Takeo Fukui, the Honda CEO, announced the cancellation of the project and the decision to concentrate on hybrid technologies. Fans of the original NSX found the announcement to be a bitter disappointment.
- October 2010: In an article appearing in “Motor Trend” magazine, Steve Diehlman reported that Acura was considering a new NSX that would be a mid-engine hybrid.
- December 2011: Acura announced that the next-generation NSX would be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show (although in concept form) the following month.
- January 2012: The concept debuted as promised. Still a coupe, the concept car added all-wheel drive, complete with torque vectoring and a dual-clutch automatic. The engine was reported to be a V-6 featuring the latest VTEC system and estimated to provide a minimum of 308 hp. The Acura was also the star of the Super Bowl commercial featuring Seinfeld and Jay Leno.
- January 2015: Following an announcement in late December 2014, the second-generation NSX was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show. The unveiling was featured on YouTube as a live broadcast.
2016 Acura NSX Specifications
As more and more details emerged, it became possible to piece together the specifications for the 2016 NSX. Below is all the information on the 2016 Acura NSX that we currently know:
- The engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 featuring dual overhead cams and a reported output of over 500 HP.
- All-wheel drive with two motors mounted on the front axle, each of which drives one wheel and a planetary gearset, and one motor in the rear.
- The transmission is a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic.
- Heat exchangers abound; there are three radiators mounted in front and twin intercoolers on the sides. Two exchangers are devoted to dissipating heat from the transmission.
- Dimensions are slightly larger than the original NSX as well as the 2012 concept car. The length is 176 inches, width measures 76.4 inches, height is 47.8 inches and the wheelbase is 103.5 inches.
- The 2016 NSX represents the first use of ablation casting by the automotive industry. Parts using ablation casting offer rigidity without brittleness as well as better energy absorption.
- Acura uses a combination of aluminum, steel and carbon fiber to provide the best ratio of weight to performance. The chassis is primarily aluminum.
- Spoilers are absent from the new NSX, while scoops are plentiful. The scoops are functional, allowing various components to be air-cooled.
- Mid-engine design features a 75-degree angle instead of the traditional 60-degree angle. A split-pin crankshaft was added to keep the cylinders firing in the correct order.
- A pillars are designed to offer high-strength and be class-leading in terms of crash performance and rigidity, but the thinner design also provides an outstanding field of vision for drivers and passengers.
The Long Wait is Over
The road to the second-generation NSX has been a long and winding path. Economic conditions and changing government regulations slowed progress, but they never halted it. Acura was determined to “get it right” before putting the NSX into production. The company wanted the power and handling of more expensive sports cars without restricting availability to only the wealthiest customers.
What do you think about the new NSX when you consider the new design, specifications and engineering innovations?
The new NSX had to be beautiful, aerodynamically sound and incorporate the best safety features available. Acura appears to have fulfilled its “wish list” admirably. It may have been a long wait — but the best things in life (like the 2016 NSX) are always worth it.