The concept of the “reliable supercar” used to be just a relative term, or it was up until the year 1990. The decade that eventually brought us all kinds of amazing cars started with one of the best, the NSX. Production on the first generation lasted fifteen years with a new larger 3.2 L V6 engine (C32B) arriving in 1997, a visual refresh in 2002, and a sad end to production in 2005. It was a hell of car, Josh even owned one.
As early as 2007 we started to hear official rumblings of a new NSX. That’s right, just as the financial crisis loomed large worldwide. Fast forward to 2012 and we finally saw a concept. It took another three years before the production version was unveiled, and many enthusiasts and motoring journalists were starting to get impatient. The new NSX, the mid-engined Corvette, a new Supra, these were all things that we figured were never actually going to happen.
Only it did (as did those others oddly enough) and we’ve been driving it here at RFD! Instead of the typical road test review for this Spa Yellow 2020 Acura NSX, where just bandied about facts and figures, we wanted to do something different. We wanted to get to the bottom of what the new NSX means to the automotive world.
To do that, we found David, an owner of the original NSX, and Kenny, a Porsche 911 Turbo buyer, and asked them key questions about the new NSX. How true to the original car is it? How does it compare to other supercars out there? Here, take a look at the video and then I’ll toss in some more of my own thoughts below.
The original NSX was never the fastest car in the segment, but that wasn’t the point. It was about reliably delivering an engaging driving experience in a good looking car that wouldn’t keep breaking down on you. Today, reliability is still relative, but most cars on the road would likely be considered “reliable” by 1990 standards. That means that the new NSX needed to be more than just the “reliable supercar”.
Thankfully, Honda/Acura did their engineering homework. With a new space frame, the NSX starts on a pretty impressive platform. The “Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel” Drive builds on the NSX tradition of doing what the other guys did, but just a little better, or a at least bit more reliably.
A twin electric motor unit is mounted up front (under the frunk) and has independent left and right motors to help the SH-AWD system work more efficiently. Electric juice flows through a centrally mounted “power drive unit” that manages hybrid power and recharging and is attached to the brain & battery mounted just ahead of the 500 horsepower 3.5L twin-turbo gas engine. There is an additional direct drive electric motor mounted in the rear directly to the 9-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT). It’s an impressive setup that is only rivaled by some of the million-dollar super-hyper-cars like the LaFerrari, P1, and 918. And while the NSX doesn’t have 1000 horsepower, the complete petrol-electric setup is good for 573 horsepower and 475 ft.-lbs. or torque.
What does all that mean? Acura cites a 0-60 of 2.7 seconds and a top speed of 191 mph. That’s faster to 60 mph than the latest Audi R8 V10, McLaren 570S and Porsche 911 Turbo, while its top speed is down a bit on all of the rivals that hover, or surpass 200 mph.
Supercars aren’t cheap. However, the question about price is still very much relative, with $100,000 – $200,000, where the NSX sits, being an interesting price point. Some people we talked to noted that, if you can afford $100,000 for a “fun car”, you can probably afford $200,000 or perhaps even $300,000. That may or may not be true, but let’s assume it is for a moment. Here is the build sheet for the NSX we tested, it’s already the better part of $200,000.
The base price of the NSX starts at $157,500. In our comparison to other cars in the same realm, that’s cheaper than the starting MSRP of the Audi, McLaren, and Porsche. However, the as-tested price is within $10,000 of the 2019 Lamborghini Huracán ($203K). Of note, the new 2020 “Evo” model jumps to $260K, but the 591 horsepower 2020 Ferrari Portofino starts at $215K.
So the question is, even though the NSX can compete with the Italians and Germans from an engineering and performance standpoint, will they actually steal buyers in the end? Or does Acura even need to steal buyers? More on that in a bit.
This isn’t a category that you’ll see in the average Huracán review, but it’s oddly appropriate when Honda makes a supercar. This being a hybrid, it gets 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway which is massively impressive. Way better than my Wrangler. The Audi R8 V10 for comparison gets 13/20. Of course, supercar buyers don’t buy supercars for economy, but in a new, greener world, it’s not a bad selling point. Of course it’s one that Acura doesn’t put too prominently on their website where the focus is speed.
Also of note are the noise the NSX makes, or actually the lack of noise. I have never experienced a more serene supercar experience than the NSX in full-electric mode. You can putter around at lower speeds (i.e. through a neighborhood or parking lot) in full silence, it’s eerie. And the “quiet mode” setting means near silent running on the highway even when using the gas engine. My wife, who’s generally tired of my driving antics and all these noisey sports cars, absolutely loved the quiet mode at speed on date night.
With regard to space, there’s not all that much, but it’ll work for a weekend getaway. While the cabin has a decent amount of space for passengers, you’ll still need to pack light. The frunk is filled with mechanical bits, and the the rear hatch has an engine. Hey, you can always use the passenger seat to pick your kids stuff!
Whether or not the latest generation NSX is “reliable” will remain to be seen. If I was a gambling man, I wouldn’t bet against Honda on this one, the new NSX has an amazing amount of engineering inside of it, and Acura is obviously using it well as a halo cars in all of its commercials.
That engineering is massively impressive, and if I were in the market for a car in this segment, there’s no way I wouldn’t consider the NSX. As you saw in the video, I’m a massive fan of the car. Some say it lacks passion, but they likely haven’t driven it. Sure, it’s not as raucous as some, it doesn’t pop and burble on downshifts. But it delivers an impressive mix of speed, practicality, and engineering in a package that looks fantastic. I want one.