Acura NSX: innovative supercar celebrates 30 years



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This year's Chicago Auto Show is special for Acura. Almost 30 years ago, on February 9, 1989, Honda's luxury division launched a concept that would transform the supercar segment – the entire automotive industry – into its head: the Acura NS-X. This concept led to the production of the Acura NSX for sale in the model year 1991.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of adding extra sparkle to the public's eyes, Acura has just released a backstage video featuring a 1991 NSX in its first year playing nature with a 2019 model.

With a spacious and comfortable interior and an easy-to-drive layout, the NSX was the first exotic car with central engine that could be driven every day. The interior of the original model is so well defined that when I got to a ride in the Honda museum in 2015 after the first 30 seconds of my ride I felt like I had bought the car for 20 years.

"Before the NSX, it was always believed that supercar performance was at the price of a comfortable interior and daily driveability," said Jon Ikeda, vice president and general manager, Acura. "The NSX broke these notions and raised the level of all other exotic and supercars with the effects still felt today," said Ikeda.

The NSX was also the first production car to be built in a fully aluminum monocoque chassis. In other words, even the aluminum body panels were part of the structure of the supercar.

The NSX also introduced the US into VTEC, the Variable Valve Timing and the Lift Electronic Control, a pioneering engine technology segment that has become a benchmark in Honda and the Acura line – as well as a popular slogan / meme online.

Finally, the NSX made the supercharged central engine more accessible. For $ 60,000, the Acura car had priced more than $ 40,000 below the comparable Ferrari 348. It also offered much more comfort and something called "reliability" – a concept strange to Ferrari at the time.

Acura NSX: A Brief History

After considerable success with front-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive platforms, Honda began researching a mid-engine rear-wheel drive in January 1984 that would eventually enter a mid-engined sports car designed to celebrate the company. return to Formula 1 racing. The following month, Honda engineers used their research to build the powertrain and put it in an economy car of the first generation Honda City. This introductory test would give rise to the official development of NSX in the fall of 1985.

While the production car that would bend in 1990 was the concept car image presented at the Chicago Motor Show a year earlier, some significant changes were made from concept to production, the most significant being a remarkably improved engine. While the NS-X concept used a transverse mount V6 camera mounted on the Acura Legend, the NSX's production had its own 3.0-liter V6 with VTEC and a redline of 8,000 rpm.

The only major difference between the prototype (upper) and the lower (NSX) production was a slight increase in length.

The cure

The more powerful engine (270 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque) with its wider and more complicated cylinderheads meant a larger wheelbase and larger front and rear bosses were needed. But when looking at one car on top of the other in the photo above, you can see that the longer body of the production car did little to affect the sleek looks.

The first NSXs paired the V6 with a five-speed manual transmission. If you wanted the four-speed automatic, you would have to work with only 252 horsepower. In 1995, the targa NSX-T arrived at the scene. In 1997, the NSX received a displacement jump to 3.2 liters, an extra 20 horsepower, an additional 14-pound feet of torque and a six-speed manual, but the automatic NSXs still used the 3.0 engine liter. In 2002, the pop-up headlights disappeared and the fixed xenon HIDs took their place. Three years later, NSX's first generation entered its final year of production until the current NSX arrives in 2016.

The 270-liter V6 of the NSX's original NSX was the first US exposure to the VTEC.

The cure

Indelible mark of Senna

"I'm not sure if I can really give you proper advice about a mass-production car, but I feel it's a bit fragile." These 22 words uttered by none other than Formula 1 racing legend Ayrton Senna would forever solidify the original NSX position as one of the greatest production supercars of all time.

Before Senna's "fragile" comment, Honda engineers were eyeing the rigidity of the chassis comparable to Ferrari and Porsche, but after a few laps behind the wheel of the NS-X prototype, Senna knew there was more to it. His suggestions led the NSX development team to test the car on the legendary German Nürburgring circuit. Once relentless Green Hell made its way with the developing supercar, Honda engineers were able to add 50% more rigidity to the chassis. Without Senna's help, it is likely that the NSX was simply a cult classic instead of becoming an undisputed automotive icon of twentieth-century performance.

In two generations, the acronym NSX had three different meanings.

The cure

How the NSX got its name

Fans of the Acura supercar can tell you that the NSX stands for "New Sports Experimental" – for the original production version, at least. But his letters were actually more representative of mathematics before the car lost its hyphen. This is thanks to the engineers who originally conceived the name (let them kill math in this story).

Research and development personnel originally intended the letters to symbolize "new", "sports car" and "unknown world". In algebra, X represents an unknown variable. When American Honda personnel decided to use "NS-X" for the prototype they would reveal in Chicago, they ran out on the more simplified meaning of "New Experimental Sport."

Although the production vehicle was originally meant to be given a different name, the angry response from fans and potential buyers made the name three-letter. Unfortunately for the hyphen, it was discarded before the premiere in production of the car.

Even with a similar appearance, they still look different.

The cure

Today's NSX

O 2019 Acura NSX (which now means "New Sports eXperience") is a very different animal compared to the original car. First, there is much more grunting with 573 horsepower and 476 foot-pounds of torque emanating from a 3.5-liter V6 mounted longitudinally increased by three electric motors (two on the front axle, one on the rear) and two turbos . This power is managed through a nine-speed dual clutch transmission. All this is enough to drive the car at 60 miles per hour in three seconds, en route to a top speed of 191 km / h, more than the original NSX.

The new car's fuel economy of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg highway is not bad considering it's a hybrid, and it's an improvement over the city's 16/22 mpg original car. Trunk space has dropped from the original 5-cubic feet to 4.4 in the current NSX.

The most technologically advanced original NSX of 2005 had to settle for a Bose cassette AM / FM stereo and a six-disc MP3 changer CD. The new NSX, as you can imagine, offers a significant breakthrough with a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD radio and a nine-speaker ELS Studio. premium audio system.

With a base price of $ 157,500 plus $ 1,800 for the destination, today's NSX is much more expensive than its predecessor, which, when adjusted for inflation, would cost about $ 120,000 in today's dollars. The price increase seems justified by the level of performance that the current car offers, but many argue that the new NSX simply is not as innovative, revolutionary or as special as the original car. The real test of this argument will come when we are able to see if the NSX second-hand values ​​will also be reborn in the long run as the first-generation model, whose best examples can command prices approaching $ 90,000.

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