The first Acura NSX is clearly as popular now, perhaps even more so than when it was first introduced, and it still maintains a substantial fan base. Avid devotees mourned the disappearance of the original iconic sports car from Honda’s luxury division, constantly clamoring for a worthy replacement. Well, the long wait has finally ended. Spring has sprung and thankfully, so has the new Acura NSX. The return of the highly anticipated iconic Japanese sports car is now a reality, following the absence of that first example more than two decades ago – the last of that first NSX run came with the 2005 model.
What has now become the 2017 Acura NSX made its debut strictly as an exercise in design in the form of a concept vehicle at the 2012 Detroit International Auto Show, that had yet to be given approval for production. It received such an overwhelmingly positive reaction at the show however, that the decision to proceed with its development followed shortly thereafter.
The original course of action for the second generation NSX was always for it to be a hybrid model, but significant changes took place over the lengthy period of its metamorphosis, and about halfway through the development process, a more revolutionary approach, with advanced technology became the focus, trumping what was to have been a more conventional hybrid vehicle. Among its many innovations, this latest iteration NSX showcases a “man-machine synergy” approach with its Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD) – the first such technology in the normal realm of supercars, a categorization that it now justifiably warrants. This necessitated changing from a normally aspirated engine in a transverse orientation to a longitudinally mounted, twin-turbo V6, essentially, requiring a complete clean sheet design.
This next generation Sport Hybrid SH-AWD power unit is comprised of the all-new twin-turbocharged, mid-mounted V6 engine that’s mated to an also all-new 9-speed, paddle shifted dual clutch transmission and Direct Drive Motor that generates instant engine torque response, and also functions as a generator to constantly maintain the hybrid batteries’ charge state as well as consistently supporting driver initiated demands. These rear power unit systems work in conjunction with the two front electric motors and the mechanical limited-slip differential, and are enhanced by the capabilities of the front-mounted Twin Motor Unit (TMU), which contains the two electric motors that independently supply power to the left and right front wheels, ultimately providing “active AWD”, increasing forward acceleration and continuously varying both positive and negative torque directed to the front wheels. This action results in a “direct yaw control” effect that enhances agility, stability, performance and response, or true torque vectoring, which is available at any speed in both throttle-on and throttle off scenarios. The TMU additionally provides regenerative brake force, assisting in braking demands, while at the same time recharging the hybrid battery.
The 9 DCT transmission is purpose built, utilizing a new design, with the clutch and differential placed side-by-side in a common housing, with a parallel shaft gear set arrangement.
The key hybrid component is the Intelligent Power Drive Unit (PDU) that contains the lithium-ion battery pack, which consists of four modules, each with 18 individual battery cells contained within a specially-designed, caseless structure utilizing the vehicle body itself for a sturdy lightweight housing. The hybrid system’s PDU incorporates a compact “three-in-one” design, converting direct current to alternating current, supplying all three electric motors.
All of this is based on a space frame chassis composed primarily of aluminum in a new application – ablation cast aluminum frame members fore and aft combined with three-dimensional bent and quenched frame members, yielding a high rate of torsional rigidity.
Like the space frame, a mix of lightweight materials for the body’s exterior makeup, including: sheet hydro-formed aluminum for the outer door skins; aluminum stampings for the hood and roof (with a carbon fiber roof optionally available); sheet molding compound for the fenders and deck lid; a carbon fiber front floor panel; and a high-temperature-resistant ABS plastic utilized in proximity of the engine. The composite twin fuel tanks are mounted behind the rear bulkhead in front of the engine.
The NSX’s suspension componetry consists of an all aluminum double wishbone arrangement with double lower control arms up front and an independent multilink setup aft. Active Gen III MR coilover Magnetorheological dampers are placed at all four corners, with two adjustable settings that vary with different drive modes. The Acura supercar rolls on staggered Continental ContiSport tires as standard fare, with Michelin Pilot Sport2 high performance rubber, and Pirelli P-Zero TROFEO ultimate performance donuts optionally available.
That pretty much takes care of all the basic “nitty gritty” elements of the new NSX’s mechanical makeup – probably more than most readers want to know or care about, so now for the car’s magnetic exterior visual appeal.
The 2017 Acura NSX is in a word, dramatically drop dead gorgeous. Okay that’s four words, but the car actually warrants more, like futuristic, fantastic, incredible, sexy and awesome.
The exterior design is a harmonious blend of sharp angles and voluptuous curves, while being a case study in function dictating form, with total airflow management as a key element in delivering the level of aerodynamics required for effective and efficient thermal control necessary for the proper operation of its hybrid system. There are six different heat sources to be managed: the twin turbo engine, the 9DCT, the PDU, and the three electric drive motors. Providing sufficient cooling for these elements, airflow is handled through 10 heat exchangers positioned in the front grille area, side “flying C-pillar” air intakes, as well as through the engine compartment. Getting air out is just as important as getting the air in, and there are outlets positioned in the upper rear quarter sail panels, beneath the rear spoiler lip and in the lower rear fascia in the form of a large horizontal grille flanked by two large vents.
The NSX features one of the lowest centers of gravity in its class making ingress and egress somewhat difficult for ectomorphic individuals, but once situated inside, the interior exhibits the same dedicated attention to detail and functionality as the exterior styling. Interior Designer, Johnathon Norman pointed out that controls and switchgear are optimally placed for intuitive use, and the leather sport seats with Alcantara inserts are perfectly contoured and formed to provide excellent support for both boulevard cruising and race track exercises. The steering wheel shape and size feels just right.
During the media drive program, a group of ten auto journalists were treated to experiencing the new NSX in both real world driving scenarios as well as in high speed race track laps, and launch control demonstrations.
The day began with each journalist donning a helmet and rolling out of pit lane and onto the 1.8 mile, 9 turn course at the exclusive Thermal Club’s West Palm Course about 30 minutes out of Palm Springs, rotating through three cars similarly equipped for four laps each in a lead/follow format following none other than noted racer Graham Rahal at increasing rates of speed and ultimately reaching a top track speed on the long back straight in excess of 130 mph. The track cars were Venetian Red metallic, Casino White Pearl and Nouvelle Blue metallic, each with a base price of $156,000., and each was outfitted with the Carbon Ceramic Brake System, Carbon Fiber Exterior Sport Package, Carbon Fiber Roof, Carbon Fiber engine cover, Carbon fiber Interior Sport Package, Acura ELS Studio Audio & Technology Package with Sirius /XM, Colored Brembo brake calipers, semi analine leather and Alcantara power sport seats, Ultra Premium “Andaro” paint process and Destination charge, bringing the final total before sales tax and license to $200,700.
SUMMARY: The 2017 Acura NSX is incredibly smooth and wickedly fast. It does everything that a supercar should, and does everything exceptionally well. It is performance is precision crafted, and the engineers that developed and perfected the final product served as ride-along instructors with each lap. I was one of the first out on the track, with Jason Widmer, Principal Engineer and Complete Vehicle Performance Leader riding shotgun, my next ride along companion was Nick Robinson, Lead Engineer, Vehicle Dynamics, followed by pro race driver and instructor Ryan Lewis. Jared Cox, Lead Engineer, Structure and Sound later supervised the Launch Control exercises.
Forward visibility is outstanding thanks to the super thin “A” pillar design, while the rear side view is somewhat limited by the large flying “C” pillar, but the visors are minimally useful depending upon one’s height. Ingress and egress is much easier than with most other supercars. There’s plenty of headroom for those up to 6’5”, even with a helmet on, which can pose some difficulty when entering and exiting the vehicle.
The NSX expands the range of available driving experiences with its Integrated Dynamics System, whose 11 systems provide uniquely tuned experiences for each driving scenario, controlled through a circular knob in the center stack. The left two positions are Quiet and Sport, while the right two positions are Sport + and Track, which are all pretty self explanatory. Sport + provided the most enjoyment for challenging twisty roads, with the Track setting optimizing elevated performance level capabilities. The individual settings also deliver a wide range of tunable sound levels, with a 25dB range between Quit and Track modes.
Pressing the center button of the IDS dial once places the 9DCT in automatic operation, while pressing it twice enters into manual mode, with control achieved via the wheel mounted paddle shifters. Even in the automatic mode, it is possible to dive further toward a turn at full speed before braking, and it is possible to apply heavy throttle even before exiting the turn, going almost immediately to full throttle. Overcooking a corner, one can feel the car twitch, but it immediately recovers thanks to the AWD system. Braking is phenomenal with the ElectroServo System’s 6-piston Brembo calipers clamping onto the 14.5” front ceramic rotors, combined with regenerative braking, and with no indication of fade after hard use. Minimal oversteer may be encountered during trail braking, but again, the AWD comes to the rescue.
Handling is awesome and forget about shuffling hands about on the wheel, as turns are conquered simply by turning with hands in a fixed position. The ride quality is most forgiving with the coilover Magnetorheological dampers at each corner – railroad track crossings and bumps in the road are barely noticeable.
The Launch control is the smoothest I’ve encountered to date, with no complicated process or settings to fiddle with. Simply set the IDS to D1, fully depress the brake pedal, mash the accelerator pedal to the floor, and when the IP signal displays the launch ready prompt, release the brake, keeping the throttle nailed and the NSX takes off like a rocket with no tire slip, ripping down the track, while shifting gears at expressly the right moment along the e-ticket ride. There’s no sensation of strain on the running gear, and in fact, the process can be repeated over and over again with no ill effects.
In the final analysis, the Acura team has positively nailed it, for what may well be the perfect supercar, and even at the fully loaded price north of $200,000. I predict an early depletion of the planned production supply. Only 800 are currently slated for the U.S. Market, with another 800 for the remaining global market. Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld have already placed their orders, so if you want one, don’t wait too long. The revolutionary 2017 Acura NSX truly delivers the New Sport experience. All other supercars beware.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Acura NSX Sport Hybrid
|Price as Tested:||$200,700.|
|Engine Type and Size:||
Power unit overview: Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Power Unit Front wheels: mechanically independent from rear power unit components, two electric motors; Rear wheels: Twin-turbocharged V6 gasoline engine, longitudinally mounted, with one Direct Drive Motor and 9DCT.
Maximum Total System Power: 573 hp
Engine Type and Size: 3.5-liter (3,493 cc) Twin-turbocharged DOHC, 24-valve V6 with both Direct and Port fuel injection, Drive-by-wire throttle and stainless steel quad exhaust outlets.
High-output lithium-ion battery pack consists of four modules, each with 18 individual battery cells contained within a specially-designed, caseless structure that utilizes the vehicle body itself for a lightweight yet sturdy housing.
Direct Drive Motor: Permanent-Magnet, water-cooled electric motor/generator – direct drive positioned between the engine and transmission, attached directly to crankshaft.
Horsepower: 47 @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission and Rear Axle: 9-speed dual clutch transmission / Limited Slip differential with wet multi-plate clutch.
Twin Motor Unit: Permanent-magnet, oil-cooled electric motor/generator – independent twin motors in a single package with a planetary gear set, one way clutch and brake.
Horsepower:36 + 36 @ 4,000 rpm
|Horsepower (bhp):||Maximum Total System Power: 573 hp|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||Maximum Total System Torque: 476 lb.-ft.|
|Transmission:||Transmission and Rear Axle: 9-speed dual clutch transmission / Limited Slip differential with wet multi-plate clutch.|
|Drive Train:||Mid-mounted twin-turbocharged V6 with the 9-speed DCT transmission and Direct Drive Motor which also operates as a generator in the rear / and front mounted Twin Motor Unit with two electric motors that independently drive the left and right front wheels, providing active AWD.|
Front – Aluminum Double-wishbone, double lower control arm and Active Gen III MR coilover Magnetorheological dampers.
Rear – Aluminum Multi-link with Active Gen III MR coilover Magnetorheological dampers.
|Brakes:||Electro-Servo System power-assisted four-wheel vented discs with Brembo aluminum mono block calipers and iron rotors (cross-drilled carbon ceramic rotors optional). Regenerative Braking|
|Tires:||Continental ContiSport 245/35 ZR19 93Y performance front mounted on 19×8.5” forged aluminum 5”Y”-spoke wheels standard or optional 5 interwoven-spoke wheels. 305/30 ZR20 103Y mounted on 20×11” forged aluminum wheels rear. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2- High performance or Pirelli P-Zero TROFEO Race Ultimate-handling performance tires optionally available.|
|Length Overall:||176.0 inches|
|Width:||87.3 inches – with mirrors|
|Curb Weight:||3,803 lbs. – without options|
|Fuel Capacity:||15.6 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||20-mpg City / 22-mpg Hwy|
|Drag Coefficient:||Not listed.|
|0 – 60 mph:||Unofficially measured = 3.4 seconds|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.