1991 Acura NSX Long Term Road Test

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1991 Acura NSX: Interior Dimensions

August 03, 2012

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Everybody here loves the interior of the Acura NSX.

It got great reviews when the car was new back in 1991, too. But it wasn’t for the way it looked, since it really is just a copy of the style seen in Italian supercars, which was already pretty familiar even then.

Instead it’s the functional aspects of the NSX’s interior that really get your attention, and in the execution you can see the thinking that Honda puts into its interiors even now.

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Just as in Honda Accord, the design of the NSX’s interior is driven by a pretty strict adherence to sound ergonomics. This knowledge of human factors is the reason that cars from Honda have never felt conspicuously Japanese. You notice it in the layout of the controls – which suits tall people as well as short – and the simplicity of the buttons and levers.

You can even read about it for yourself in the technical material Acura prepared for the introduction of the car. Below are some relevant excerpts:

"The goal of the NSX engineers was to create an interior that was snug and intimate, yet, at the same time, offer enough space so that the occupants would not feel cramped or sealed inside the cockpit. Some of the key objectives for the design were unlimited visibility, a feeling of spaciousness, and the sense that the cockpit and driver were out in the airstream rather than enclosed and isolated from the environment."

"SEATING POSITION AND VISIBILITY: A low seating position contributes to a low center of gravity and helps reduce the frontal area for improved aerodynamics. It’s also an essential part of an exotic car’s personality. Proper location of the hip point is the first step in creating the interior space and establishing the relationships between the driver, instrument panel, steering wheel, pedals and other major controls.

"The driver’s hip point in the NSX was located as low as possible and situated nearly at the midpoint of the wheelbase. Ordinarily, a low hip point would impart to the driver the feeling of being buried in the interior and create a claustrophobic feeling. To avoid this, the body engineers created a very low cowl section which allowed them to lower the height of the dash and instrument panel.

"This low cowl section was made possible by efficiently packaging the front suspension and by using 15-inch wheels at the front, compared to 16-inch wheels at the rear. The 15-inch wheel also allowed a wider footbox and made possible a natural relationship between steering wheel, pedals and seat. Unlike some exotics, the pedals didn’t need to be severely shifted inward to clear the wheel housing.

"The low cowl also contributes to enhanced vertical visibility. Forward vertical visibility is 23.5 degrees and rear vertical visibility is 15.7 degrees. Total all-around visibility is 311.8 degrees."

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"MONOFORM SEAT DESIGN: In keeping with the concept of light weight, the seat frame is made of stamped aluminum, a first for a production car. As a further indication of lightweight, simplified design, the NSX seat has about one-third fewer parts as compared with a typical power seat."

"SOUND-DEADENING REAR GLASS: To prevent unwanted engine noise from intruding into the cockpit, the rear glass is a special double-pane design with a vacuum between the two."

"INSTRUMENT PANEL AND DASH: In designing the instrument panel, the approach the designers took was one of simplicity. Since the main mission of the instruments is to relay information in as clear and quick a manner as possible, the designers rejected anything that might conceivably be perceived as gimmicky.

"All the major controls are clustered around the steering wheel to make them easy to reach. The upholstery covering the dash is a newly developed, handcrafted five-layer process. The steering wheel incorporates both tilt and telescoping adjustments.

"A compact climate control system has been developed specifically for the NSX. Unlike most climate control systems which are mounted transversely behind the dash, the heating and cooling components of this system are installed longitudinally in the car in order to improve knee and leg room."

Of course, we tend to take a lot of these design features for granted 20 years later, especially in Acura and Honda models. But as the NSX shows us, these things didn’t come about by accident. And the enduring appeal of the NSX’s interior shows us that the Honda engineers arrived at solutions that can be applied to all cars, not just this exotic sports car.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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