What's New for 1996
The hardtop is reintroduced to the 1996 Acura NSX lineup.
Since its 1991 introduction, the Acura NSX has been heralded by much of the motoring press as the best sports car ever produced. Certainly, with its 24-valve, 3.0-liter V6, all-aluminum body, mid-engine layout and traditionally Honda-correct ergonomics, the NSX is a heckuva car. But the best sports car ever made? We're not too sure about that.
For 1995, the slow-selling NSX got a targa roof and a slick new transmission called SportShift that operates much like Porsche's Tiptronic. The targa option increased sales of the NSX by 100 percent in 1995 so the concept is being carried over to 1996. The hardtop has been reintroduced this year in the hopes that it will broaden the NSX's appeal. While we don't doubt that this is an alluring car, it seems that there are a limited number of Americans who are in the market for $80,000 Japanese two-seaters, especially since the LT4 Corvette offers equal peformance for half the asking price and Dodge's Viper offers nostalgic styling, a throaty V10, and is a guaranteed babe magnet. Witness the difficulty that other excellent Japanese sports cars have been experienceing over that past few years. The Nissan 300 ZX is getting axed, the Mazda RX-7 is not having a 1996 model shipped to the US because of all of the 1995s sitting in showrooms and the Toyota Supra lost its six-speedmanual transmission on turbo models due to ever increasing emissions requirements.
Still, the exotic looks and excellent engineering of the NSX should prove to be attractive and we would be saddened by its departure. If the more financially able motoring public in this country doesn't quit spending all of their luxury-vehicle dollars on SUVs, the Acura NSX may go the way of the Corvette ZR1.