Can an icon ever be truly reinvented? Acura aims to do so with the NSX. The original NSX of the 1990s is a monument, an unlikely competitor to the finest sports cars of its era. It's much the same with the current NSX, which made its debut for 2017 after a painfully long development process. The NSX uses hybrid power to provide performance as sharp and exciting as its exterior design. Once again, the NSX is a supercar that pushes Acura's performance acumen to new levels.
The NSX didn't always drive as great as it looks. When Acura rolled out this reinvented icon for the 2017 model year, it finished a disappointing eighth in our Best Driver's Car competition. Its technical wizardry made it undeniably quick, but as we pointed out, "there's always a part of your brain trying to figure out how to get around the artificially induced foibles in the handling, always trying to out-think the car. That makes the Acura NSX weirdly involving to drive."
Problem solved. A slate of updates applied for 2019 turned the NSX into a more sorted machine. As before, the powertrain overcomes its turbo-hybrid complexity to deliver incredibly linear acceleration. Now, though, the NSX handles fantastically, providing grip and agility that instills great confidence. It transmits feedback terrifically, but still rides comfortably enough to cruise around in all-electric mode.
There's still room for improvement, particularly in the interior. The outdated infotainment system doesn't match the NSX's otherwise brilliant technological accomplishments. But that matters little when the NSX is in its element: being pushed hard, laying down futuristic hybrid performance. Now, it's a supercar that drives as great as it looks.
Still not convinced that hybrids can be sporty? Just look at the NSX. It has a mid-mounted twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 connected to a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Then things get interesting. An electric motor is sandwiched between the engine and transmission, and there are two more motors powering the front wheels. The result is 573 hp and 476 lb-ft of torque distributed through this complex electric AWD setup. In MotorTrend testing, it was good for a 3.0-second launch to 60 mph and scorching 11.2-second quarter mile at 124.0 mph. What's more, the NSX returns about 21 mpg in combined fuel economy—excellent for a supercar.
The NSX isn't as snug as some supercars, providing 38.3 inches of headroom and 42.9 inches of legroom. Another mid-engine sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette, has 37.9 inches of headroom and 42.8 inches of legroom.
The NSX's trunk can hold just 4.4 cubic feet of cargo. Its front electric motors preclude a frunk like some mid-engine cars have. The Corvette offers a comparatively SUV-like 12.9 cubic feet of cargo space between its front and rear trunks.
Under the bodywork, the NSX is a technological tour de force, but inside the cabin, it's a bit more modest. There's a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in navigation. The driver looks at an 8.0-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster display. Two USB ports and a nine-speaker ELS Studio audio system are included, while SiriusXM satellite radio is optional.
It may wear the badge of a Japanese brand, but the NSX is an American-made supercar. Each and every one is assembled by skilled workers at Acura's Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) near Marysville, Ohio. The NSX's high-tech hybrid powertrain is created there, too. NSX production entails numerous intricate, unique processes to ensure that the car is of the utmost quality and performance.
Acura hasn't been able to sell nearly as many NSXs as it deserves to. It created a fantastic sports car, but shoppers seem to prefer more conventional, better-known options. In fact, so few examples are rolling off the line that Acura has put employees at its production facility to work building crossovers instead. Does that mean the NSX is being cancelled? Not quite yet. A leaked internal memo indicates it will stick around at least through 2022, so there's still time to buy an NSX. With annual sales numbers so far not breaking three digits, the NSX is rare compared to most competitors, adding to its collectability value. Of course, it's an excellent driver's car, too.