Future Acura Models

Acura NSX

The Acura NSX was a car of firsts. It was the first production car to feature aluminum construction for its body structure, body panels, suspension and engine. Its engine was the first to feature variable valve timing and a variable-volume intake manifold. It was the first Japanese sports car sold in America to truly go head-to-head with the world's best. Furthermore, all of this ichiban stuff came from an automotive brand that, at the NSX's debut, had been in existence for just five years.
Despite all of its finely honed excellence, however, the Acura NSX makes an interesting case study for what went wrong. After 15 years of the car's production, Acura had sold only about 8,900 NSXs; for comparison, Chevrolet typically sells three times that many Corvettes in just one year. Acura is said to be working on a replacement set for the 2009 model year but for now the NSX is RIP.
Some people dismissed Acura's exotic as being too bland and Honda-like. But could it have been anything different? In the early '90s, most high-performance exotics suffered from poor visibility and awful ergonomics. The NSX represented a paradigm shift, one that demonstrated that high performance and a comfortable driving experience weren't mutually exclusive after all. Like it or not, the NSX was about as easy to drive as an Integra and just about as reliable.
Less defensible is the fact that the car simply went on too long without a major redesign. Though Acura performed useful updates, a first-year NSX isn't very different from a 2005 model. By the time of the new millennium, redesigned (and less expensive) competitors outclassed it in terms of performance and value by a significant margin.
As a candidate for a used sports car, though, the Acura NSX could be a savvy choice. It's relatively rare, rewarding to drive and still looks every bit of an exotic as it did in 1990. Plus, the lack of major revisions means that you can buy an earlier model and feel safe in the knowledge that you're not missing out on much.
The Acura NSX is a two-seat sports car. It went on sale in 1990 as a 1991 model and continued uninterrupted through the 2005 model year. Product highlights included a midmounted V6 engine, aluminum body construction, solid build quality and crisp handling.
For its debut, the NSX featured a 3.0-liter V6. The engine was equipped with VTEC (Variable valve Timing and lift Electronic Control) and a variable-volume intake manifold to increase power and tractability. Titanium connecting rods allowed a high redline. Developing 270 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque, the engine sent its power to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission. Acura also made a four-speed automatic available but with a reduced-output V6 (252 hp).
Acura used aluminum to build much of the car to keep curb weight at a minimum. Racecarlike double-wishbone suspension design was used for each corner. Standard equipment highlights included antilock brakes, automatic climate control and leather upholstery. In 1995, a targa-roof model (the NSX-T) became available.
Two years later the Acura NSX finally received its first and only powertrain upgrade. The 1997 manual-equipped models featured a new six-speed transmission and a larger 3.2-liter engine producing 290 hp. Those with the automatic kept the previous 3.0-liter V6. A limited-production Alex Zanardi Edition was available for 1999; available only as a fixed roof coupe, it had special wheels and a more stiffly tuned suspension.
Acura performed its last NSX update in 2002. The coupe model was discontinued and out-of-fashion elements like flip-up headlights and monochromatic interior panels were axed in favor of fixed HID headlights and updated metallic-look trim. Functional changes included a stiffened suspension (though not as much as the Zanardi), larger wheels with wider tires and a sequential-shift mode for the automatic transmission.
In 2003, our editors compared the NSX to three American sports cars. On a racetrack, they reported that the car's midmounted engine gave it a distinctly different feel than the front-heavy American iron. Its limits were high, but crossing them meant that drivers had to be ready to gather the car up in a hurry. On the street, the Acura NSX was easy to drive thanks to its excellent forward visibility, easily depressed clutch and smooth shifter. Overall, our editors said the car was exhilarating to drive but not worth its then new $90,000 asking price.

No comments: