What's New for 2002
For the first time since the car's introduction in 1991, the 2002 Acura NSX receives a variety of styling enhancements. These include new fixed HID headlights, freshened front and rear bumpers and updated exhaust tips. Inside, six new color schemes are available. These schemes can be matched to the car's exterior color for a customized look. The center panel has also been updated with new chrome plating. Mechanically, the NSX remains unchanged, though the suspension has been retuned and larger wheels have been fitted.
Believe it or not, it's been 11 years since Acura introduced this all-aluminum-bodied sports car. Back then, it received well-deserved accolades for its futuristic construction and true sporting design. It still gets our kudos for being well-balanced, highly poised, easy to drive and graceful, even though you can get more horsepower and a relatively similar ride for half the price of other sports cars.
Equipped with a 3.2-liter 24-valve V6 engine, the NSX manages 290 horsepower (252 if equipped with the four-speed automatic), which is enough to move the car from 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds. The mid-engine design provides excellent weight distribution, keeping the wheels securely planted around turns. Braking is confident, and if driven aggressively, the NSX rewards the driver with capable and entertaining handling.
Acura has updated the NSX's exterior this year, giving it fixed headlights, restyled bumpers and 17-inch wheels both front and rear. The restyling is said to improve the car's aerodynamic performance enough to boost the car's top speed from 168 mph to 175 mph.
The interior design, though featuring new color schemes this year, looks dated. The NSX is still quite comfortable as exotics go, however. In many ways, it's as easy to drive as its distant relative, the Honda Accord. All controls are logically placed, the seating position is ideal and the targa top is easily stored. While never a strong point of mid-engined exotic sports cars, rear visibility is better than you might expect. The shift action of the six-speed manual transmission thrills us, and the clutch and brake pedals are well placed and provide excellent feedback, as does the razor-sharp steering.
Since its 1991 introduction, other sports cars, such as the Dodge Viper and Chevrolet Corvette, have caught up to the radical NSX, and the 'Vette offers more horsepower at half the price. Even the Porsche 911 is a less expensive alternative. An all-new NSX is rumored, but its appearance won't likely happen before 2004.
Don't write off the current model, though. It still has plenty to offer. Drivers looking for a supercar that likes being driven at the top end of its tachometer while keeping a leech-like grip on the blacktop couldn't ask for more. And don't forget that the NSX is part of the Acura (Honda) family, which means it won't spend most of its time on a hoist with a man making $90/hour whanging away underneath it, like other exotics. Combine that with its livable interior and excellent ergonomics and you've got a keeper that could be used for daily commutes or joyful driving. Just bring your wallet.