Bowmanville, ON – After its initial iteration’s demise in 2005, the Acura NSX first reappeared in the form of a concept car in 2013, before making its commercial return in 2016. Since then, the Japanese brand’s supercar has sold by the…thimble-load. In this rarefied segment, the NSX is not the most expensive entry, nor is as old conceptually as many of the others. And yet, buyers for the most part prefer its competitors, particularly the ones with names on them that are prestigious enough to compel the spending of enormous sums of money.
Acura’s Canadian division recently invited a handful of journalists to the MoSport circuit in Bowmanville, Ontario to showcase once again the attributes of the Honda group’s highest-performance vehicle, and highlight the changes that have been made to it for the 2019 model-year.
New colour scheme and more body stiffness
Those who attended an auto show at some point in 2019 might have notices the Acura NSX sporting that new pearly Thermal Orange colour, which it frankly looks fantastic in. Any self-respecting supercar should be offered in such a colour if it wants to appeal to buyers, typically an attention-seeking lot in this segment. If that doesn’t float your boat, know that the NSX is available in seven other colours, including two that will cost buyers an extra $7,500: New Blue Pearl and Valencia Red Pearl.
You can also have the brake calipers painted in the same new orange colour, when you opt for the carbon-ceramic brakes that is; the standard brakes can be had with red calipers.
In front, the grille is now decked in body colour, while a gloss finish lights up the NSX’s front and rear ends. In some cases, the carbon fibre is added to some of the exterior elements, if only to confirm the NSX’s membership in the supercar class.
Inside, the NSX can be dressed in a bunch of different colours, while some options available in years past are now included standard, such as navigation, ELS Studio premium audio system, proximity detection and aluminum sport pedals.
Acura engineers on hand at our drive event emphasized that the chassis of the NSX is now stiffer thanks to more-rigid stabilizer bars (26% stiffer in front, 19% in back), link arm bushings (21% stiffer) and the hub (6% stiffer). Also new are standard Continental SportContact 6 tires (although the ones fitted on the cars we drove on the track were Pirellis, the Trofeo Rs being designed for more intensive uses).
A few hours on the track
With our time in the NSX limited, I focused on the car’s performance on a closed track, which is really an ideal context for pushing a supercar to its limit. My driving impressions on a real live public road will have to wait for another day…
Acura made available three units of the 2019 NSX, in addition to an NSX GT3 EVO designed for endurance racing. My day started in the passenger seat of the latter car as a young 17-year-old driver by the name of Antonio Serravalle pushed the car to its limit on the development track for three laps. The other, better-known MoSport track was occupied by another group of enthusiasts.
With three on-track sessions reserved for me, I had to plan my day carefully. Not that the Acura NSX is a particularly inaccessible, hard-to-drive exotic car – quite the contrary – but with such a cavalry under the hood (573 hp, 406 lb-ft of torque), and with a price point that flirts with the $250,000 CAD mark, it’s wise to take things gradually.
Paying close attention to Canadian driver Brody Goble, sitting patiently by my side, I took some time to reacquaint myself with this very technical circuit, all while trying to discern the particularities of this new 2019 NSX. To being with, the level of torque at low RPM is astounding right from the first completed corner; I felt the same kind of excited about the steering, which was crisp and precise without being too heavy in the handling.
By playing with the two sharpest modes of the Integrated Dynamics System, I determined the Sport+ is the best-adapted for this track, with downshifts coming more quickly when the dual-clutch transmission takes care of doing the changing. In Track mode, everything is at its sharpest, which is certainly exhilarating but isn’t necessarily ideal for this track chockful of tight corners. I also tried Manual model, which entails using the paddles on the back of the steering wheel, but as in 99% of cases, the car performs better when the box handles gear changes.
Count me among those who find that the sounds produced by the powertrain are too close to those produced in 80s-era ca-racing video games, but then, the NSX is still ahead of most vehicles currently on the road in this respect. Let’s just say you pick up more sounds from the intake than from the central exhaust.
Whatever the sounds produced, the car’s road grip is what impressed me most about the NSX, thanks to the AWD of course but also to those Pirelli tires that serve to velcro the car to the hot asphalt. Arguably even more impressive is how easy the thing is to drive, even in those moments when the aggression level rises.
The only caveat is in the cabin itself. It’s well-made and all, but it’s missing that extra spark an exotic car should really have. Suffice to say that the environment in this car is not that far removed from those of other Acuras. If Acura is serious about wanting to seduce buyers who want big, “exclusive” sensations, it might want to think about including more-serious sport seats.
In any event, what a few laps on a closed track reveals is that the Acura NSX is a ton o’ fun to drive when the track gets curvy; at the same time, the NSX is also surprisingly drivable on a daily basis, and even, dare I say it, in winter.