Getting Up to Speed on the Acura NSX Mid-Engine Super Car

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Acura NSX has always been driven by technological innovation, and a desire to beat super car royalty.

Ah, the Acura NSX. Since 1990, this mid-engine, rear-wheel drive super car has been setting Honda enthusiasts alight with desire. After all, few other cars can offer such a level of driving dynamics, all while also offering everyday Honda usability and reliability.

That said, how of us really know the full story behind the NSX? We can recite chassis and engine codes, but who can distinguish a Zanardi Edition NSX from a regular car? Well, fear not, our friends at Donut Media have done everyone a favor and broken down every important bit of NSX history, all the way up to the present day.

Of course, the story starts with Soichiro Honda, Pininfarina and Ferrari. In the 1980s, Honda was on fire, cranking out success after success. The brand shifted some of their prowess towards Formula 1 and then had a serious rethink about what a road-going sports car should be. After some concept work with Pininfarina, the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental) came about, paving the path for, in five years time, what would become the NSX.

Acura NSX Donut Media Up to Speed

The original NSX, which arrived in 1990, was lightweight, purposeful, and beautiful. It’s 3.0-liter C30A V6 engine produced a radical for the time 270 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. The resulting performance was enough to scare a contemporary Ferrari 348, and wow everyone who experienced it.

Small, yet continual changes took place as the NSX aged, however, the biggest upgrade come in 1997. The engine was taken out the 3.2-liters. This C32B engine produced 290 horsepower 224 lb-ft of torque. That bump in power, along with chassis tweaks keep the aging NSX feeling fresh.


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Aside from the engine, a much larger update was on the horizon. in 2002, Honda introduced a new NSX. Dubbed NA2, it was a gorgeous new body that picked up where the previous car left off. The C32B remained, and weight increased a bit, but the stunning looks, and improve aerodynamic profile meant that the NSX lost very little of it’s handling edge.

Acura NSX Donut Media Up to Speed

Then there was nothing. Slowing sales and a deflated Japanese economy meant the NSX hit the chopping block in 2005.

Of course, there were rumors, and murmurs in the industry that Honda was considering another NSX at some point in the future. The basic shape came to fruition in just a few years. Concepts and ad campaigns teased a gorgeous silhouette. Rumors, aided by the occasional spy shot, spread like wildfire. It was supposed to have a screaming V10 engine. Then it was supposed to have all-wheel drive. Then we heard rumors that it would be packing a boosted V6.

The teases continued, but the production date moved ever forward. People thought the NSX was vaporware, until, in late 2015, Acura pulled back the veil of secrecy and showcased the production-ready NSX. Come 2016, it was here, and it was…a bit of a disappointment. Development hell and marketing campaigns that began much too early meant that by the time the car had arrived, people were less interested. It felt as if we had already seen the car.

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Of course, the current NSX picks up exactly where the last car left off, as a less expensive, very reliable alternative to a Ferrari. And, indeed, with 573 horsepower from it’s 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, with three hybrid motors, it is a very fast car. However, the new NSX has yet to really win over the hearts and minds of enthusiasts like its forebearer managed to do.

Since it’s 2016 debut, little has changed to the NSX formula. Speculation of a hardcore NSX-R has long been rumored, but nothing official from Honda has surfaced, which is a shame.

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Jake Stumph is the lead Content Editor for Honda-Tech and several other Internet Brands Automotive websites. He enjoys track days, drifting, and autocross, at least, when his cars are running right.

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