What Is It?
2016 Acura NSX
What's New About This Model?
The 2016 Acura NSX is an all-new, two-seat, midengine hybrid sports car. It marks the first return of the model since the original NSX, which was produced from 1991-2005. Unlike that car, the new NSX features a hybrid powertrain, a twin-turbo V6 and all-wheel drive.
When Does It Go on Sale?
Acura said it expects to have the 2016 NSX in dealerships in the fall of 2015.
How Much Does It Cost?
No official pricing has been released yet, but we expect the NSX will be priced similarly to sports cars like the Audi R8 V10 and Porsche 911 Turbo, which start in the ballpark of $150,000-$160,000.
What Is the Chassis Like?
The new NSX is built on an aluminum and steel space frame with a carbon-fiber floor. The body panels are made of aluminum and fiberglass-like sheet molding compound (SMC). The 2016 NSX has grown a bit since the last time we saw (and measured) the NSX concept car, owing to a midstream change to a longitudinal engine layout. This saw the car's length grow by 3 inches to 176 inches to accommodate the transmission's new home aft of the rear axle. Wheelbase grew 0.8 inch to 103.5 inches, while width swelled another inch to 76.4 inches. It's still not a huge car, but certainly commands more real estate than the shrink-wrapped, tidy concept car.
Nineteen-by-8.5-inch front wheels and 20-by-11-inch rear wheels are wrapped in 245/35 front and 295/30 rear Continental ContiSportContact summer tires. Beneath those spidery-looking wheels peer six-piston front and four-piston rear carbon-ceramic brakes. All of the major powertrain masses have been effectively centralized within the wheelbase in order to reduce polar moment of inertia. Additionally, we noticed that the steering rack sits forward of the front axle line ("front mount" style), which generally bodes well for steering feel.
Acura boasts that the NSX has the lowest center of gravity in its class, but the engineers aren't talking about curb weight yet. To be sure, this won't be a featherweight sports car. We expect it will be about 700 pounds heavier than the original NSX, or around 3,700 pounds.
What Powertain Layout Does It Have?
The NSX has a hybrid drivetrain and all-wheel drive. Powering the rear wheels is a midship-mounted twin-turbo V6, channeling its output through a nine-speed (yes, nine) dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Three electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack assist the estimated 500-hp gasoline engine, bringing the total combined system output to something well north of this figure.
One of the electric motors resides between the engine and gearbox to provide regenerative braking. It also adds some torque when the turbos aren't yet at full song and helps quicken gearchanges by dragging the engine speed down during upshifts or zinging it up for downshifts.
The remaining two electric motors are up front, driving the front wheels. As a result, the NSX powers its front wheels via electric propulsion only, a la the Porsche 918 Spyder — there is no driveshaft linking the engine to the front wheels. This strategy eases packaging and provides heaps of latitude in manipulating torque between the two front wheels, both independently of what's going on at the rear wheels, and each other. The promise of such a layout is freakish agility; the challenge is calibrating it such that it is transparent in practice.
The battery is located behind the seats, and the hybrid system's power electronics reside in a tunnel between the seats. This leaves just enough space between the battery and engine for the fuel tank.
Was It Always Going To Be Turbocharged?
According to the NSX's chief engineer, Ted Klaus, the midstream change to a longitudinal powertrain layout was made in the pursuit of higher performance. Halfway through development, the goalposts moved, so the normally aspirated V6 wasn't going to cut it. The decision was made to adopt turbocharging. However, this exposed a critical limitation of the concept's east-west powertrain's orientation — it made packaging of the turbos prohibitively difficult.
By turning the engine 90 degrees to a longitudinal layout, plenty of space was liberated alongside the engine to package the turbos and associated plumbing. Since more horsepower means more cooling, the inlets aft of the doors were doubled in size. Compare those to the teeny scoops found on the concept.
What About the New Engine?
The engine is an all-new, dry-sumped DOHC V6 with two turbos, oriented in a north-south fashion aft of the rear bulkhead and fuel tank. What's unusual about this engine is the 75-degree angle of its cylinder banks — for smoothness, typical modern V6s employ a 60-degree vee angle and a shared-crankpin crankshaft. It is expected that the new NSX's engine still manages to ape the firing order (and hence smoothness) of a 60-degree V6 by borrowing a trick from the original NSX — an offset-crankpin crankshaft.
So, why the 75-degree vee angle? The larger vee angle lowers the engine's center of gravity a hair. Company officials will no doubt like you to believe that this engine is a street-going version of the HI14TT twin-turbo V6 racing engine that Honda developed for IndyCar, but similarities are likely to be scarce beyond their 75-degree cylinder bank angles.
The engine is laid out conventionally, with the intake manifold within the vee and the turbos located outboard. Charge air is chilled by two air-to-air intercoolers located immediately ahead of the rear wheels. These heat exchangers are fed ambient air via the two prominent perforations in the bodywork just behind the doors.
What Changes Have Been Made Since the Concept?
Beyond the powertrain about-face, demands for additional cooling took center stage in the NSX concept's evolution to the production car we see today. The two hood vents were significantly enlarged to enhance radiator cooling and to reduce lift by directing air over the top of the car rather than beneath it.
The vertical slots at the outboard sides of front fascia's vents send a curtain of air over the face of the wheel, reducing drag. Likewise, wheel well pressure is bled off via the vents aft of the front wheels. And the aforementioned rear intercooler vents are nearly three times larger than those of the concept. Like the concept, air is directed around the "flying" C-pillar buttresses and over the rear deck to reduce lift.
Despite the significant dimensional growth and additional slots and vents, the production NSX visually remains strikingly similar to the concept, even down to the proportions.
What Does the Cabin Look Like?
Leather and aluminum are present in equal measure, serving to highlight the car's construction and provide some reassurance that your estimated $150 grand was well-spent. There's a zoomy-looking steering wheel and a tall center console, high sills and a "floating" center stack. As you might expect, there will be various driving modes from which to choose including a track setting, launch control and the de rigueur electric-only operation, available at low speeds for a limited period.
What Models Will It Compete Against?
Audi R8 V10: A brilliant sports car you can drive every day and feel like a superhero every time you drive it.
Porsche 911 Turbo: The benchmark in the segment, the 911 Turbo combines capability with brute force like few cars on the road. It's also daily-drivable but is less showy which, depending on your perspective, can be a pro or a con.
Should You Wait for It?
There's a lot that isn't known about the NSX, though it's a technological showcase to be sure. We'll have to drive it to sort out where it lands in the spectrum of high-performance sports car greatness, but we're anxious to find out how it stacks up.