1990-2005 Acura NSX
1995 Honda/Acura NSX-T
The NSX was the flagship sports car for Honda sold as a Acura in America. The mid-engined rear wheel drive near exotic carried the light and efficient theme used by makers like Porsche to the extreme, making the NSX an innovative technological powerhouse when it was introduced. Throughout its 15 year lifespan, it maintained a very high power to weight ratio through advanced engineering, attention to detail and lessons learned by Honda’s extensive racing experience.
The mid-engined, rear wheel drive NSX was the sensation of the show car circuit in 1989 when it made its rounds in Los Angles and Tokyo. The final production car’s name changed from NS-X, but it looked much like the original show car. The exotic looks suggested to the casual viewer that this was no ordinary Honda. The NSX employed many innovations like Variable Valve Timing (VTEC) and electronic throttle control that were firsts for any car sold in America. The transversely mounted V6 engine was a efficient design at 3.0 liters, making only 270 hp (less power than some Camaros of the day), but was enough to move the NSX with supercar authority when combined with its 6 speed manual transmission. Most cars were sold with a 4 speed automatic with a semi manual function.
Great attention was paid to car dynamics and weight reduction. Input from noted Formula One drivers like Aryton Senna and Bobby Rahal helped tune the NSX’s chasis and performance dynamics. The light weight aluminum chassis and frame helped the 2900lb. NSX accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds easily achieving Honda’s goals of matching the performance of its benchmarked competitors from Ferrari (328/248). The aim was to match the Italians in performance while offering typical Honda reliability.The NSX succeeded in that task by being race and road ready. The one thing the NSX could not match the Europeans in was looks. Even with a mid-engine design, the NSX looked somewhat restrained if not slightly bland. Other than aggressive add ons from the aftermarket and tuners, the NSX appearance stayed much the same until its pop up lights were replaced with exposed Xenon HIDs in 2002, giving the car a more aggressive look.
Inside might have been more dramatic looking. The two seat interior was comfortable and featured a control layout that wrapped around the driver with a graceful swooping of the center console into the dash (much like the Nissan 300ZX). Some models were offered with a T-bar style roof called the NSX-T.
Many performance variants were introduced over the years by Honda and independent tuners with increased power while keeping weight in check, often by stripping out the elements that made the NSX a comfortable and practical car for daily driving. Honda created its own Type R and S with up to 290hp while tuners like Mugen created even more powerful variants. Although the NSX was a low volume car, it was extremely popular and continues to have a strong fan base after it’s cancellation. Honda’s racing heritage, rave press reviews and growing tuner market will ensure that the NSX will not be forgotten any time soon.
Racing was always a central part of NSX development and continues to be even after the cars cancellation. At this writing, Honda was racing the next generation of the NSX in the Super GT series in Japan (highly modified race spec car). With Nissan’s new Skyline getting rave reviews and Toyota about to release its new supercar, it seems Honda may follow suit with a new NSX. A concept car was shown in 2009 featuring a 3.2L longitudinal mounted V6 engine. The car was more an engineering exercise with Mugen than a styling one as it was based on the 2005 body style with some small enhancements. Hopefully, it points the way to an all-new kick butt NSX that will make the Germans and Italians work harder for their money.
2005 NSX Type R