The past few years have been an interesting time for Japanese automotive manufacturers. Nissan released their coveted skyline in the USA, as the GT-R, Infiniti claims the F1 Championship in 2011 with Sebastian Vettel and Toyota holds world production volumes neck and neck with GM at 8.5 million vehicles. So what about Acura? Back in the 90s or early 2000, Acura could easily lean back on their affordable supercar: the Acura NSX, but they discounted production in 2005. Well as of this year's North American International Auto Show, that will change.
For one and a half decades the original Acura NSX has been regarded as one of the most efficient, reliable and affordable supercar ever. Built under Honda's subsidiary, Acura, the car was created in collaboration with Pininfarina, Formula 1 drivers and ground-breaking technologies.
Labeled as the New Sportscars eXperimental prototype, the original NSX featured a 3.0 liter VTEC V6 engine that pushed 270 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. It was designed to defeat the Ferrari 348 in specifications, on the track, and in price. It was able to do all three. With the first ever all aluminum monocoque body and chassis, it was significantly lighter and was able to post Ferrari-level performance figures due to the low curb weight despite it's smaller V6 engine. The original NSX did 0-60 mph in just 5.0 seconds while Ferrari's 348 did it in 5.6 seconds with a larger, more powerful V8 (300 horsepower).
It baffles me then, knowing the significance of overcoming Ferrari performance figures, as to why the NSX's recognition has been so underwhelming in the automotive community. The NSX, you see, shares similar capabilities with the Nissan GT-R, an efficient high power to weight car made in Japan to eat Ferraris for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snacks. Yet the NSX has never even remotely received as much recognition as the Nissan GT-R has over the past few years, but with the recent introduction of the new Acura NSX concept at the 2012 NAIAS in Detroit that will change.
That's right, Acura has confirmed that the NSX is coming back. Acura presented their new NSX as an aggressively designed supercar that will probably start to steal the GT-R's breakfast and lunch, but I'm not sure about dinner yet. Like the original, the new NSX will be equipped with a mid-mounted V6 next generation VTEC engine with an electric motor to offer supercar performance while maintaining Prius efficiency. Suck on that one 8 mpg Bugatti! The NSX will be mated to a dual clutch transmission and their new, proprietary SH-AWD hybrid system.
Super Handling-All Wheel Drive is Honda's new AWD technology that can actually deliver negative torque to the wheels to help assist while cornering. Now, I don't know about you, but that just sounds like black magic to me. Either way, the NSX will be the only supercar that will have a dynamic AWD system that adjusts torque distribution as you enter a corner. As interesting as that sounds, it almost sounds like it'll be too easy to drive and, as car enthusiasts, we're not interested in boring cars. Honda CEO Takanobu Ito stated in the NAIAS press conference that the SH-AWD system "will make the driver one with the car to enhance dynamic driving abilities without getting in the way." Sounds interesting, but boring.
Nonetheless, Acura is exclaiming that the NSX will aspire to true racing philosophies that focuses primarily on a favorable power to weight ratio. I believe that Acura will deliver in three years time as they've already committed to creating a production version but I'm curious as to whether it will be a raw, heart-racing experience to drive or will it just be a technological marvel that will impress the nerds.