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The Acura NSX Concept is possibly the most highly anticipated car of the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. Acura's attempt to recapture the magic of the original was shrouded in mystery, but a few scant details managed to leak out: A hybrid drivetrain, lots of horsepower, and stunning styling were a given. But what wasn't expect was what Honda president and CEO Takanobu Ito said next: The next NSX will be developed in the United States, and built in Ohio.
Who It's For
Ito said the new Acura NSX would go on sale worldwide within three years, giving it a 2015 production date. One assumes that the target audience would be the same as anybody who covets exotic sports cars: Rich people who want a car that stands out from the crowd and has the performance to back up its looks. But unlike the early 90s -- when Honda's everyday sensibility in the NSX made it stand out from the barely tamed racecars against which it competed -- a new NSX has plenty of civilized competition out there. The Audi R8, Corvette ZR1, Nissan GT-R and even the occasional Ferrari are as day-to-day livable as a Corolla. Just much, much faster.
But beyond just impressing the super-rich, the new Acura NSX has another job. It must serve as a "halo car" for the whole Acura brand. That is, it not only has to be an excellent vehicle to drive, but it has to put the Acura brand back on the map as a serious maker of luxury cars. It's no secret that Acura lost its mojo in the '00s. While sales were fine, the brand that launched the whole idea of Japanese luxury cars was losing out to rivals Lexus and Infiniti, not to mention European brands. While Acura's technology is right on target these days -- its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive is as good as anybody's AWD system -- the brand needs a spark to bring back the kind of premium buyers that it no longer attracts. The NSX, if nothing else, will drive showroom traffic like never before.
The production Acura NSX is still three years away, so we can only go on the limited information that was presented at the Detroit show. However, we do know a few interesting tidbits.
- It's a hybrid: The NSX will feature two electric motors, one for each front wheel, to give it all-wheel drive traction.
- It has a V-6: The original NSX was powered by a 3.0-liter V-6, that grew in later models to 3.2 liters. Expect the new car to have a 3.5 to 3.7-liter V-6.
- It'll have seven speeds: Honda and Acura have been slow to adapt to the growing presence of automated manual gearboxes. The NSX will debut the company's first one.
What We Think
What do we think? Put it this way. We saw photos of the Acura NSX Concept before the show, and it was a jaw dropper. Now that we've seen it in person, we can tell you this: We want it. Badly. According to Motor Trend's Benson Kong, who witnessed the NSX Concept's unveil to a group of dealers, "it was the first time in a long time dealers stood up and delivered a rousing ovation upon seeing what will without a doubt be the brand's halo car." As for the journalists gathered, it was by far the longest sustained applause we've heard yet at the show.
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