This is a sexy two-door toy that takes a real car fanatic to understand.
Many say that Acura, and maybe even Honda as the parent company, has changed quite a bit since the brand’s “heyday”. Once known as a pinnacle in Japanese engineering, the Honda brand and its Acura luxury marque have been the topics of controversial debate for quite some time now. The first-generation NSX of the early 1990s is a forever dream car of mine, one that I hold very dear to my heart. After nearly half a decade of teasers and concept cars, the successor to the iconic Japanese supercar has finally arrived on our shores and is available for sale.
Considering how long it has been since we initially saw the sexy profile of the 2018 Acura NSX, it’s fairly easy to say that the initial hype has somewhat worn off. It’s no longer the latest, freshest thing, and there have been other supercars introduced after it that have stolen the proverbial spotlight. After spending a few days with this car though, it becomes immediately obvious that this isn’t a halo car because of its looks, or the approach the brand took to launching it into showrooms.
The new Acura NSX is nothing short of an engineering marvel. First introduced in 2017, the NSX also has almost nothing in common with the original model, save for a name and the fact that they are both halo cars for Acura. This new model is a hybrid supercar, one that essentially sits in a class of its own. Though there are some parallels with the BMW i8 (reviewed here), the NSX outperforms the German car by a significant margin. There are hybrid hypercars from McLaren and Ferrari, but they cost many multiples of what Acura has priced the NSX at (approximately $240,000 as-tested).
Two factors are what earn a supercar its stripes; looks and performance. The former is absolutely subjective, but the NSX is strikingly beautiful. There hasn’t been an Acura that is considered universally stunning since the last NSX, so the amount of attention that this car received driving around the streets of Toronto wasn’t much of a surprise. The sleek lines, and low and wide stance contribute positively to the supercar looks and overall appeal. The wheels are beautifully designed and sit perfectly with the body. A carbon fiber kit on our test vehicle adds aggressive bits including front splitter that finishes the car off perfectly.
In terms of performance; this is where the NSX outdoes all expectations. Three electric motors are paired to a twin-turbocharged 75-degree V6 engine. Two of these motors are on the front axle, and the gasoline engine sits behind the driver, with the third electric motor fixated between it and the nine-speed dual-clutch transmission. Combined output is a staggering 573 horsepower and well over 400 lb-ft. of torque. Acura Canada rates the 0-100km/h sprint time at just 2.7 seconds, which makes it faster than the Nissan GT-R (reviewed here) and a boatload of other supercars, many priced well beyond this one.
The straight-line speed this thing delivers is mind-blowing. We recently had the chance to track-test the NSX (reviewed here) and experience for ourselves what this machine can do when squeezing out its maximum potential. The car handles like it’s on rails; like nothing else we’ve ever experienced. It feels just as futuristic as it is, and it’s a very digital sensation both while building speed as well as carving corners. The drive modes can be pushed into “Sport+” and “Track”, both of which toggle engine response, transmission calibration, steering heft and the powertrain to ensure the NSX behaves optimally for the conditions.
It doesn’t quite sound like a supercar should, but that’s coming from the mouth of someone who worships the era of when supercars were absolutely analog and challenged you. It still takes a lot of skill and effort to drive this car quickly and properly, but all of the technology behind it makes it considerably simpler than its predecessor. At the very least, the quick-shifting dual-clutch not only eliminates one of the variables on the driver’s mind, but also performs gear changes faster than any human could pull off with a traditional manual gearbox.
Speed, handling, and brakes that stomp the car to a standstill almost instantaneously all come together to work harmoniously. All of this is connected to the road via a set of Continental ContiSportContact 5 P, in staggered sizes (19” front and 20” in the rear). The handling is tight and far more than compliant – the NSX goes exactly where it’s pointed without fuss. Both understeer and oversteer rear their heads when the car is pushed too far, but we found steering response surprisingly crisp with decent feedback in Sport+ and Track modes.
Where things start to come apart is that emotional appeal in a supercar. We just spent some time with the slightly more expensive Lamborghini Huracan Performante (reviewed here), and that’s a car that delivers engagement like nothing else. The Audi R8 V10 Plus is about the same price as the NSX, and just has more drama to the whole experience. The NSX does nothing poorly – in fact it does everything perhaps too well. It impresses, but it really doesn’t excite as much as a car at this price should.
Pricing for the 2018 NSX starts just below $190,000. Our test vehicle was equipped with the optional Exterior Carbon Fiber Package ($11,000), a carbon fiber engine cover ($4,400), a carbon fiber sport package on the interior ($3,500), Interwoven style wheels ($1,800), and the carbon fiber decklid spoiler ($3,700). The absolutely gorgeous Valencia Red Pearl on our car will also set you back an extra $7,300. When all is said and done, our NSX test vehicle tipped the scales right around the $225,000 mark.
The NSX’s cabin is mostly standard-issue Acura, save for more aggressive lines throughout. The steering wheel has carbon fiber accents, and has a flat bottom as well as a flat top, which is particularly cool. There is a touch-screen infotainment system that’s right out of the current crop of Acuras, however it is compatible with Apple CarPlay which modernizes it significantly. The seats are very aggressive and bolstered perfectly for spirited driving, giving an indication of what the NSX is meant to do.
The 2018 Acura NSX isn’t a car for everybody. It’s not even a car that’s for everyone who can afford it. This is a sexy two-door toy that takes a real car fanatic to understand how everything works and truly appreciate all of the engineering that backs it. If you’re one of those who really do “get it”, you’ll agree that the latest NSX is an appropriate homage to the original heartthrob and is a worthy halo to the Acura brand.