1991 Acura NSX: Engineer Ride-Along

1991 Acura NSX Long Term Road Test

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1991 Acura NSX: Engineer Ride-Along

February 02, 2012


Our friend the ride engineer took a turn in our wayback machine, driving the 1991 Acura NSX. It took him back to the time when the 1990 Nissan 300ZX Turbo was brand new.

We didn’t find any place to drive fast, so we just pottered about in the dark for an hour or so.  Since he had arrived in a Nissan GT-R, his first observation wasn’t much of a surprise.

“Sure rides good,” he said.

Naturally there was some wrestling with the un-assisted steering, but he confessed that it simply had been a long time since he’d driven anything with manual steering.  He offered the impression that the steering ratio seemed a little slow, probably because the Honda engineers wanted to make sure the mid-engine package would be very stable.

“Sure rides good,” he said.

The aluminum chassis felt very tight to him despite its age, and it didn’t have any of the resonance the sometimes comes with structures that are in fact a little too tight. The isolation from bumps was practically amazing, especially from a Honda of this era, when too much spring rate and too little suspension travel was the order of the day.  The brake pedal was very firm, too.

“Sure rides good,” he said.

The engine didn’t get much enthusiasm from him. It seemed underpowered and it made a noise like an old even-fire Buick V6, while the clutch action was strangely heavy. The throws in the transmission’s shift pattern were very tight and the action was good even though the linkage felt like plastic. His feet were too big for the pedals and his getaways from a stop were not very smooth, as if the car felt unexpectedly heavy. Most important, all the effort levels for the controls were a little different.

“Sure rides good,” he said.

Great visibility.  Interesting cabin design, especially the center console, which recalled lots of cars from that time for him.  Plenty of room for a 99-percentile American male.

Car looks good, although it does seem a foot too long because of the trunk. Car feels big and even heavy from behind the wheel. Not very interesting to drive, neither alert nor alive. Car doesn’t deliver a very strong sense of where it wants to go.

Finally I asked him if it felt very unique to be driving a mid-engine car.

“To tell you the truth,” he said. “Until you just mentioned it, I really had no feeling about whether the engine was in front of me or behind me.

“It sure does ride good, though.”

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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