There’s a brand-new Acura dealership at the Richmond Auto Mall, but the store is no stranger to Richmond, having operated on #3 Road for 30 years. In fact, Richmond Acura was the Honda luxury division’s very first dealership in Canada. The business was acquired in 2013 by the Brasso family, which also operates the Honda store at the Mall.
What better way to celebrate the arrival of Acura at the Mall than to take a look at the company’s flagship sports car, the NSX, which will be arriving very soon.
Acura launched its first-generation NSX in 1989 it proved something of a sensation. For starters, it looked like no other Japanese sports that had gone before and the general view at the time was that here at last was a ‘Japanese Ferrari.’ Early in its life, Honda filmed TV commercials in Italy with a red NSX which involved two elderly locals arguing whether or not the car was, in fact, a Ferrari.
The pioneering NSX was a great-looking car and with its mid-mounted V-6 and aluminium bodywork, it proved even more satisfying from behind the wheel. It was superbly balanced, agile and responsive in all the right ways. Before the TV commercial NSX was shipped to Italy, I managed to borrow it for some track time under the nervous eyes of the car’s “minders.” It turned out to be one of the best road cars I’d ever driven on a track and it still lingers in my memory. The model was dropped in 2005, to the dismay of fans.
Fast forward to 2015 when Honda announced a replacement for the iconic sportster and (thankfully) retained the NSX name rather than trying to get clever with something cute.
If the first NSX had an Italianate look about it, the 2016 version looks as though it could have come rolling off the assembly lines at Maranello, home of Ferrari.
If that’s possible, it’s even more elegantly styled than its predecessor with lots of dramatic curves and the usual array of air vents and scoops. It’s a little larger all-round than it’s forebear, but not so you’d notice. As before, the engine is mid-mounted, just behind the driver and up front there’s some storage space. It’s a very ground-hugging design and I would imagine that the NSX would reveal outstanding aerodynamics in the wind tunnel. The bodywork is mostly aluminium, but this time around, Honda has also made use of composites, some of which may not have been available back in ’89. The floor, for example, is made from carbon fibre to endow the structure with a high level of stiffness.
Expectedly, there’s a lot of technology packed into this new Acura. The engine is a twin-turbo 75-degree V-6 and it makes use of a three-motor ‘sport hybrid’ system. Those electric motors should add useful torque to the engine and contribute towards some impressive performance figures. The transmission is no less fascinating. It’s a 9-speed dual clutch automatic unit with the now-common steering wheel mounted paddles for manual operation. Four drive modes are available, depending on conditions or the whims of the driver.
The new NSX will be built exclusively at a new factory in Marysville, Ohio. According to Acura, there will only be 100 people there to produce the car, so it’s clearly hand-built in most respects. The car was also developed in the US by a global design and engineering team.
This NSX is so new, no solid performance data is available right now. The engine develops 500-horsepower and it delivers power to all four wheels. There’s not much doubt that this is a 300 km/h car with a zero to 100 km/h time of 4-seconds or less. Despite all this get-up-and-go, the car should be quite economical on fuel, given its hybrid powertrain. Brembo brakes from Italy help stop the beast and these use carbon ceramic discs for extra efficiency.
The interior of the NSX is certainly attractive and welcoming. It is, of course, a two seater and there’s probably just enough room behind the seats to stow a couple of slim briefcases and a raincoat or extra jacket. The seats are comfortable and very supportive and they adjust in several directions. The instrument panel is mostly electronic, a move that is finally beginning to appeal to sports car fans, possibly because just about all competition cars these days feature this approach. The chunky steering wheel carries a host of controls for various functions. The usual infotainment screen is sited at the centre of the dash panel. A two-tone theme is used for the leathers and vinyls and the interior styling is enhanced by wide use of titanium-coloured trim items.
Owners who loved the earlier car have been pleading for years for a new model and now it’s set to arrive. Initial demand is bound to be high and serious buyers should get their names on the list as soon as possible. It’s been a long time coming but it looks like a car that was well worth the wait.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Two-place sports coupe
ENGINE: 3.5-litre V-6 delivering 500-horsepower.
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed dual clutch automatic with manual override and four modes.
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in less than 4-seconds (estimated)
FUEL ECONOMY: TBA
PRICE: $189,900 base