The 2003 Acura NSX sports coupe is a seven-year-old design that is due for an update. It offers a solid feature list and good handling thanks to a mid-engine design and a 60/40 weight distribution. The V-6 engines do well enough, but don’t really impress. The NSX fails to offer a good value due to its price and the heavy-duty competition. Class rivals will offer much more performance, more up-to-date designs and more features for the price. The aging NSX is hard to recommend in light of these facts, so check out the competition.
Body styles: coupe
Engines: 3.2-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, six-speed manual
Models: Acura NSX
For 2003, the Acura NSX receives no changes at all.
The 2003 Acura NSX sports coupe is available in just one base level trim. It can be had with two different motors, each with its own gearbox. The NSX offers exterior features that include 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, intermittent wipers, a rear defogger, Targa roof, dual exhaust, power door mirrors, high-intensity discharge headlights, four-wheel independent suspension, and limited slip differential.
The sleek and low-to-the-ground look of the NSX is aggressive and somewhat stylish. The athletic-looking and wedge-shaped body implies good aerodynamic performance, while aluminum compromises most of the exterior parts. It hasn’t changed much since its debut, but the NSX does look sharp and presents a true sports car image.
The cockpit of the NSX has a respectable amount of features for a sports car, including speed control, automatic temperature control, air conditioning, power mirrors, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a premium audio system with AM/FM, a cassette and cd player, leather upholstery, four-way power seats, and leather trim on the steering wheel and shift knob.
The jet fighter inspired NSX cabin is only two seats, but offers taller occupants more space than most two-seaters. There is a decent amount of luxury for a sports car and most of the gadgets a buyer could want. The cabin is relatively comfortable with solid ergonomics. The build quality and material quality are basically what is to be expected, but the high price of the NSX may merit even more toys and cabin luxuries.
Performance & Handling
The NSX can be had with one of two different powertrains. There is a 252-horsepower, three-liter, V-6 engine that makes 210 lb-ft of torque and mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The other option is a 3.2-liter V-6 that produces 290 horsepower and 224 lb-ft of torque. This power plant hooks up to a six-speed manual shift. The SportShift four-speed automatic unit features a manual gear-selection provision. This item is operated with buttons on the steering wheel similar to cars used in Formula One racing.
The NSX uses electronic drive-by-wire technology instead of a throttle cable connected directly to the gas pedal or hydraulic actuation. All models of the NSX are rear-wheel drive. The acceleration is certainly respectable and makes for some fun performance, but it pales in comparison to rivals like the Viper, a car that packs 500 horsepower. For the price, the NSX needs more performance and power.
The handling definitely matches the appearance of the NSX. It is flat in cornering, very stable, and has a good grip. The steering can require a bit of effort in hard curves. The braking does the job well. While the NSX is not as punishing in ride quality as a Viper or Corvette, it isn’t a luxury sedan, either. It rides like a fine handling sports car and the occupants will feel every irregularity in the ride and every bump. The engine is mounted right behind the occupants and thus the noisiest item in the NSX, although it won’t wear one down with its sounds. There is a noticeable amount of tire noise.
The NSX comes standard with safety gear, including dual front impact airbags, all-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, child seat anchors, traction control, and front seatbelt pretensioners. Side-impact airbags are not available. The NSX has not been tested for crash safety by either the NHTSA or the IIHS. It is a sports car, something that factors into occupant protection, but is also a given for those buying these types of cars. The safety gear list is pretty good, as is Acura/Honda’s reputation for safety.
EPA Fuel Economy
Acura NSX: 15/22 mpg city/highway
- Honda’s legendary reliability
- Mid-engine design
- Superb balance
- Outstanding handling
You Won't Like
- Pricey for what you get
- Outdated design
- Lacking horsepower
- Most likely to be updated in a few model years
Older design of an overpriced but fun sports car.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Porsche Boxster
- BMW Z8
- Dodge Viper