1991 Acura NSX: The Drive. Finally.
January 03, 2012
I've been wrapped up in all sorts of projects lately that have kept me from taking our long-term NSX on my canyon route. That all changed yesterday morning.
As is customary, I left my house early in the morning in order to get the cleanest runs (I only saw about 10 cars and motorcycles total in the mountains). I started out conservatively, gradually increasing speed and aggression.
Visbility is excellent, thanks to the NSX's thin A-pillars. Steering feel is perfect as good as our old Porsche and my beat-up Lotus. You can really feel the wheel lighten up when balancing the car on the edge of understeer. The gear spacing is a little too far apart for my tastes; I like rowing up and down through the gears before and after turns. I pretty much kept it in second gear the whole time, and that suited the car just fine. It didn't bog down low and carried plenty of power all the way up the tach.
In many ways, the NSX reminds me of my little Lotus Elise. Cornering limits are quite high, despite having rather narrow tires. Both tend to understeer, but it's very manageable. Oversteer gets a bit tricky, though.
Rather than releasing the rear tires progressively (like out 911 and Mustang do), the NSX snaps from adhesion. You really have to be on top of things when this happens, fast hands are a must. You also have to be deliberate about breaking the rears loose, as they don't surrender grip willingly.
All in all it was an epic drive. I buzzed by all of the usual landmarks: the Dropoff Esses, the Top Carousel, Lower Carousel, CHP Bend, Cooper Corner, The Rock Store, The Snake, Squid Corner and the Notch. Most of these are names I've given them, regular Malibu bombers will recognize a few. On the way back, I took it easy as I rolled all the way back down Pacific Coast Highway. I came away impressed, considering this is a 20-plus year-old car. Hopefully soon, I'll be hitting these roads on my next superbike purchase. Raaaaawwwr!
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor