Acura NSX's Evolution
The idea of introducing a sports car of this caliber was conceived in 1984. Honda hired Pininfarina, an Italian car designer, to make the Honda HP-X. After the project was underway, Honda decided it wanted this car to compete with sports cars coming out of Germany and Italy. “The New Sports Car Experimental” prototype went into development, abbreviated as the NSX. Several changes were made with the new direction, including replacing the two liter V-6 with the much more powerful three liter VTEC V-6. Several of the technologies from Honda’s F1 motor sport program were incorporated and a number of names from the world of Formula One Racing were involved.
The NSX was the first to feature an all-aluminum monocoque body along with an aluminum alloy frame and suspension, making it incredibly light. This, coupled with the engine power, made it one of the most impressive sports cars available. It was first introduced to the public at the Chicago Auto Show and the Tokyo Motor Show in 1989. Two years later, it was on sale in Japan under the Honda name, then in North America under Honda’s luxury line, Acura.
Acura NSX Models
The NSX was always meant to be an exotic sports car; however, the first generation NSX-R made compromises in order to increase drivability and improve its appeal to the general public. It was soon found that fans of the vehicle were less interested in creature comforts than raw power, so Acura shifted its focus to create a more track-worthy version by decreasing weight, removing audio and air conditioning systems, replacing leather seats with carbon fiber, and more. The first generation NSX was the lightest and performs amazingly on tracks, though the ride was considered "rough." Driver-friendly and racing models were also available.
The popularity of the NSX continued and, in 1995, the NSX-T was introduced. This model included a number of changes, including an optional targa top roof and a softened suspension that made for smoother and more accurate handling. The improved suspension also decreased the common over-steering problem which plagued many similar engines. Power steering was available with the manual transmission, where before it was only available with the automatic.
The biggest jump in performance was in 1997. A 3.2 liter engine replaced the 3.0 liter engine while torque was increased from 210 lb/ft to 225 lb/ft. This year also offered a six-speed manual transmission. The NSX could now go from 0-to-60 in 4.5 seconds. Another improvement was the brake rotor size, which increased from 11.1 inches to 11.732 inches. This led to larger wheels and tires, but a new aluminum alloy decreased the weight even further.
In 1999, a special Alex Zanardi Edition was available, with improved racing performance and a signed plaque from the famed driver. The hard-top NSX model was discontinued in 2002, leaving only the NXS-T. Design improvements that year included new xenon headlights, revised suspension, and wider rear tires. It was also offered with a four-speed automatic transmission with manual shift feature.
The final upgrade came in 2004 with an in-trunk CD-changer and keyless entry. The car was discontinued after 2005.
While the NSX was a sports performance vehicle, it was considered an exotic car in line with higher-cost and better-known Ferrari. The early NSX models were considered some of the most reliable sports cars of this class on the road, enjoying a much longer life, often over 100,000 miles while enjoying few major engine problems over time.