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2019 Acura NSX Review

LIKES
  • Sexy as hell
  • Seamless sub-3-second acceleration
  • Effortless high-speed grip
  • A technological tour de force
  • A launching pad for a new Acura?
DISLIKES
  • Very expensive, before the carbon-fiber add-ons
  • An even-tempered supercar, for better and worse
  • Lacks supercar cachet, for some
  • Hybrid gas mileage doesn't pan out
  • Tires can make or break its road feel
The 2019 Acura NSX drops supercar performance numbers in a gas-electric, typically offbeat tour de force.

With the 2019 NSX, Acura doesn’t lighten up on performance. Not like it did in 1990, when the first NSX and its aluminum body muscled into a sports-car arena with delicate looks and inspired handling and a rippling sound—and the cockpit of a 1989 Civic.


Today’s NSX has all its supercar bona fides in order, thank you, from the exotically engineered hybrid drivetrain to its knockout style to its low-to-middling fuel economy.

We think it’s worth a 7.4 out of 10, but don’t get it twisted: it’s perfect in performance and styling, and suffers in the usual supercar ways such as cargo space and gas mileage.

Unlike, say, a BMW i8, it’s impossible to separate the NSX’s styling from its performance. The wedgy, exciting NSX profile bears no noticeable flaws, from its available carbon-fiber roof to its aluminum and composite tub. The aerodynamically savvy shape wraps air around its body like Eartha Kitt wore mink. The cabin’s less flashy, with lots of suede and leather and carbon-fiber trim in fully decked-out form, but we miss the touchstone of a true shift lever, even if the NSX’s drivetrain hardly even needs its shift paddles.

The drivetrain—buckle up. The tech description takes us down a few roads: In summary, it’s a twin-turbo V-6, fused to an electric motor that powers batteries and motors up front, synthesized to Moog-caliber perfection for all-wheel-drive grip and 3.0-second runs to 60 mph. The NSX also has wishbones at the corners, massive meats on its feet, electronically modulated brakes, and the ability to dance like no 3,800-pound car with its short wheelbase or Odyssey-minivan width should. It’s seamless on a track, tippy-toe quiet at home when it needs to be, and daily-driver ready in its calmer drive modes.

Two passengers won’t take any issue with the NSX’s camelbacked cockpit, but they’ll need to FedEx their luggage ahead since the trunk only gives up 4.4 cubic feet of storage space.

All NSXs come with a wide-angle rearview camera, power seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, but no AM radio or automatic emergency braking. With options such as carbon-fiber trim and an Alcantara headliner, a $203,000 2019 NSX goes all-in on carbon fiber and pricey paint, a perfect match for its all-in performance.

Styling
The NSX riffs on the supercar songbook with heroic results.

The 2019 NSX draws inspiration from decades of exotic cars but stitches together its own track suit from them. The aerodynamically fuss-free shape looks striking, and the cockpit quiets the usual supercar shades of cray-cray.

We give it a 10.

With its wide and low stance the NSX sits just a few inches from the ground. Crouched for take-off, it points its low nose at the ground, breaking up its face with slim LED headlights and a mesh grille. Big air intakes hook up at the sides and pull air down the body, around the Testarossa-style mirrors that swing out like antennae, into a hippy rear where it snorkels in as much air as it can to feed its twin-turbo V-6. It succeeds in setting its own supercar pace even in the back where its LED taillights and Acura badge wouldn’t look out of place if they had a bull or a horse instead of calipers on the badge.

The cabin drops some of the drama distilled in rivals. There’s no shifter whatsoever, just a strip of transmission switches and buttons straight out of a Honda Pilot. If you never drove another Acura you’d never know it, but it’s an odd introduction to a car with this heady performance.

Elsewhere, the camelback spine of the cockpit wears luxe trim and the dash is fitted with big screens to convey the right information in a tech-savvy way. The swank ambiance soothes with leather-covered console and door panels and dash, while big bands of metallic trim outline the NSX’s vital controls—unless those bands are wrapped in optional carbon fiber.

Performance
The 2019 NSX drills through corners expertly, with a grand flourish of hardware and software.

Mechanical wizardry, thy name is the Acura NSX. We’re not forgetting the coders, though.

With the NSX, Acura has one of the best statements of future supercar performance that’s not purely based on battery technology. It melds gas and electric power into all-wheel-drive expertise on any road surface, with a slingshot as its start button.

It’s a 10 for performance, in other words.
The drivetrain knits together all the usual hybrid pieces, in unlikely supercar form. A 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 spins out 500 horsepower that can sound uninspiring in a parking lot, but from inside the NSX, it’s filtered and amplified for a ripping exhaust note, especially in its Track driving mode. Acura engineers mounted the engine to an electric motor, which couples to a 9-speed dual-clutch automatic. At the end of the assembly sits a limited-slip differential; in front, a lithium-ion battery pack has two motors that can send power to the front wheels, for a new flavor of all-wheel drive and a way to move power across the front end. The net: 573 hp and 476 pound-feet of torque, which scalds the pavement in 0-60 mph runs of 3.0 seconds on the way to a 191-mph top speed. That’s all despite a curb weight of 3,878 pounds.

Acura NSX ride and handling
The NSX calls on software to bring this hardware into symphony. Its audacious grip excels on the track, while it’s able to soothe drivers in less adventurous circumstances. Its synthesized feel comes in high-fidelity streams, never twitchy or nervous, as natural as any man-made algorithms on the road.

Spin the NSX’s drive-mode selector into Track mode, and the throttle quickens, and it engages its electric motors in front to help the car carve corners better; it also holds gears longer. Try as you might, the NSX’s transmission shifts more quickly and more slickly than any manual—and almost any automatic we know.

A front and rear double-wishbone suspension teams with magnetically controlled dampers and variable-ratio electric power steering to give the NSX its fluid, capable handling. All its systems change character depending on drive mode, from the relaxed Quiet mode, where revs are kept below 4,000 rpm and the car’s directed to use battery as much as possible, to Track, where all systems are go, the steering increases its effort, and the shocks go taut. The car defaults to Sport mode, more toward Track than the casual settings.

Track mode puts the smackdown on sloppy driving. The NSX can understeer into deep corners, but a lift off the throttle lets the electric motors catch the car up; a little trail-braking snips the corner neatly. The NSX forgives early exits too; punch the throttle and it lets each tire know it’s time to work harder.

The NSX has grown more insistent with its grip this year. Engineers wanted it to be more responsive and controllable at the limits of adhesion, so they stiffened stabilizer bars at both ends, recalibrated the electronic aids, and fitted new Continental SportContact 6 tires, 245/35ZR-19 fronts and 305/30ZR-20 rears. The optional Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires still can be had for weekend track warriors.

Braking still harnesses electric and mechanical systems, with the inputs from electric motors blended with the friction brakes via an electric servo. The setup delivers predictable and even pedal feel.

Comfort & Quality
Fantastic seats for two offset the NSX’s itty-bitty trunk.

Supercars are all about balance—specifically, the balance between a hulking piece of horsepower-generating drivetrain and the slim space afforded to the people and cargo inside.

The NSX does better than most supercars: Excellent front seats don’t leave much room for luggage. We give it a 6 for comfort and quality. 

The wide NSX sits just 176 inches long, with a short 103.5-inch wheelbase and is just 47.8 inches tall. It’s a pointy hockey puck purpose-built for grip, in other words.

The two passengers that snuggle into its leather-upholstered seats have things good. The NSX has abundant leg and shoulder room, and head room soars, thanks to very low-mounted seats. They’re power-adjustable now, but don’t sacrifice anything from the NSX’s excellent driving position.

There’s no back seat, you know, but the NSX has a 4.4 cubic-foot trunk. Consider it a reminder to bring a gym bag.

The NSX is built in Ohio, and the attention to detail is excellent. Acoustic glass muffles road noise, while exhaust sounds pipe into the cabin—except in Quiet mode, when the NSX runs on its battery to putter through neighborhoods on its toes.

Safety
We don’t expect to ever read NSX crash-test scores.

The exotic NSX hasn’t been crash-tested, and likely never will be, so we leave it scoreless here.

Acura fits the NSX with a multi-angle rearview camera, which helps with the difficult rearward vision. The view ahead is superb, thanks to a low hood and a low dash.

The NSX doesn’t get the latest collision-avoidance technology, such as adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.

Features
Acura tops off the NSX’s features list with new standard gear this year.

Without automatic emergency braking, but with a host of other available features and a good infotainment system, the 2019 NSX earns a score of 7 for features.

With a base price of $159,300, the NSX grabs its fair share of standard equipment. That list includes power features, leather upholstery, leather and Alcantara seats, a leather-trimmed instrument panel, dual-zone climate control, keyless ignition, ambient lighting, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth streaming and two USB ports, eight-speaker audio, HD radio (and FM, but no AM radio), a 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.

The options list spirals into the exotic, with a carbon-fiber trim package that coats the sills and spoilers, even the roof panel and interior trim. Carbon-ceramic brakes cost extra, and so does blue or red paint. Power seats with more adjustment can be specified, and so can painted brake calipers, a full leather interior, and an Alcantara headliner.

Fuel Economy
It’s better than other supercars, but the Acura NSX’s gas mileage is low for a hybrid.

With three electric motors and a battery pack at its back, the 2019 Acura NSX promises better fuel economy than the ordinary supercar. It delivers, but those numbers aren’t so high on the overall scale.

We give it a 4 for green.

The EPA rates the 2019 NSX at 21 mpg city, 22 highway, 21 combined. It’s an achievement for a massive, grippy sports car with more than 500 hp on tap.

Find us an Accord that can deliver 3.0-second 0-60 mph times while it also turns in 37 mpg highway, and we’ll worry about this score more.



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