Some folks call it sexy. Others deem it stimulating. However it’s described, the 2019 Acura NSX is a supercar with a difference—one that goes beyond stunning looks and technological excellence. It’s a hybrid that augments its V-6 engine with a trio of electric motors. It’s shifted away from a conventional powertrain without losing a speck of the performance that’s marked Acura’s two-seater since it first appeared as a 1991 model.
Built in Ohio, the aluminum-bodied NSX adopted its battery/gasoline configuration as a 2016 model. In addition to new design cues, standard equipment has grown for the 2019 model year. Chassis enhancements include stiffer stabilizer bars and grip-tighter tires. Interior trim is now gloss black.
A Technology Package now is standard, including navigation and ELS Studio audio. Semi-aniline leather and Alcantara sport seats are also standard. Thermal Orange is a new body-color choice.
Only one trim level is offered, but Acura offers a broad collection of options.
A mid-mounted 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine works with a direct-drive electric motor that powers the rear wheels, via a 9-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Up front, twin electric motors drive the front wheels, fed by a lithium-ion battery pack.
The twin-turbo V-6 generates 500 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, while the electric motor produces 47 horsepower and 109 pound-feet. Total system output is 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet, resulting in 3.0-second acceleration to 60 mph. Quite a feat for a hybrid car that weighs close to 3,900 pounds.
No shift lever of any kind can be found. That task has been overtaken by a strip of switches and buttons, though some drivers might feel that something vital is missing in a car of this caliber.
The exotic NSX hasn’t been crash-tested by either the federal government or an independent agency. Because of limited production, it probably never will be.
Rearward vision is constricted, but helped by a multi-angle rearview camera. Forward views are superb, past a low hood and dashboard. Despite its price and stature, Acura’s NSX lacks the latest collision-avoidance technology, such as adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
Only about 800 NSX supercars are produced each year.
Prices do not include $1,800 destination charge.
NSX Coupe ($157,500) combines a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 with three electric motors and all-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes leather and Alcantara seat upholstery, a leather-trimmed instrument panel, dual-zone climate control, keyless start, ambient lighting, a tilt/telescoping steering column, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth streaming, two USB ports, nine-speaker audio, HD radio, multi-angle rearview camera, and staggered 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels.
New standard equipment for 2019 includes ELS premium audio, parking sensors, four-way power seats, navigation, and aluminum pedals. Options include carbon-fiber trim and an Alcantara headliner. Full semi-aniline leather adds $1,000. Carbon-ceramic brakes cost at least $9,900 extra. Blue or red paint also adds to the total.
Inspired by numerous exotic cars over the decades, the NSX charts its own course, wrapping its technology in a striking, aerodynamically fuss-free shape.
Wider than most cars and wedge-profiled, the NSX has a low stance, sitting just a few inches above ground level. Pointing its low nose downward, the sizzling coupe looks practically crouched and ready for takeoff. Built on a 103.5-inch wheelbase, the NSX is only 47.8 inches tall.
Up front, slim LED headlights bracket a mesh grille. Sizable air intakes pull air down the streamlined, aerodynamically-correct body, past mirrors that swing outward. At the broad tail end, great rushes of air snorkel in to supply the twin-turbo V-6. LED taillights would look appropriate even on a Ferrari or Lamborghini.
Less dramatic than in the past, reduced in flashiness, the NSX cabin packs plenty of suede and leather, in addition to the availability of carbon-fiber trim.
Two passengers can nestle in marvelous leather-upholstered seats. Legroom and shoulder space are abundant. Headroom is surprisingly good, courtesy of seats that are mounted particularly low. Seats are power-adjustable, easily set up for an excellent driving position.
Leather even covers the console, door panels, and dashboard, enhancing the ritzy ambiance. Wide bands of metallic trim surround essential controls. Big screens occupy that dashboard, ready to convey appropriate information in a contemporary, tech-oriented manner.
Cargo space is nearly nonexistent at a tiny 4.4 cubic feet, so expect to leave most luggage behind.
Even with its short wheelbase and stretched-out width, not to mention 3,878-pound girth, the NSX manages to tango and swirl like few rival sports cars. Magnetically-controlled dampers and variable-ratio electric power steering combine effectively, yielding fluid handling. Add effortless, yet audacious, road grip at high speeds, and the NSX is a luxury coupe to be reckoned with.
Never acting twitchy, uncertain, or nervous, able to breeze through corners with expertise, the NSX feels natural even when under pressure. Yet, it’s capable of delivering a relaxed, even soothing, experience when travel conditions become less adventurous.
As for powertrain performance, the 3-second time claimed for hitting 60 mph says it all. Not only is acceleration strong, befitting the V-6’s horsepower and torque ratings, it’s pleasantly seamless. The transmission shifts more quickly and slickly than any manual gearbox.
Drive mode selection changes the character of several vital systems. In relaxed Quiet mode, engine revs stay below 4,000 rpm, and battery power is used as much as possible. Track mode increases steering effort and tightens shock absorbers, while the transmission holds gears longer. Front electric motors engage, too, for swifter cornering. Sport mode learns more toward Track level than to casual settings.
Braking relies on both electric and mechanical systems, yielding predictable response and an even pedal feel.
Acoustic glass keeps road noise at bay, though exhaust sounds enter the cabin. Quiet mode can let the NSX run on battery power temporarily, to keep noise down in residential areas.
Fuel-efficiency beats other supercars, but it’s not so impressive for a hybrid – EPA-rated at 21/22 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined.
More than some competitors, the 2019 Acura NSX comes across as an even-tempered, sometimes subdued supercar. Attention to detail excels, while performance and styling approach perfection. Cargo space is negligible, and fuel economy so-so. Even without carbon-fiber add-ons, the 2019 NSX is an expensive vehicle—but one that richly rewards its drivers.
Driving impressions by Martin Padgett, TheCarConnection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.