2017 Acura NSX Test Drive: Revolution vs. Evolution – the New Sports eXperience [Review]

2017 Acura NSX

The first Acura NSX is clearly as popular now, perhaps even more so than when it was first introduced, and it still maintains a substantial fan base. Avid devotees mourned the disappearance of the original iconic sports car from Honda’s luxury division, constantly clamoring for a worthy replacement. Well, the long wait has finally ended. Spring has sprung and thankfully, so has the new Acura NSX. The return of the highly anticipated Japanese sports car is now a reality, following the absence of that first example more than two decades ago – the last of that first NSX run came with the 2005 model.

2017 Acura NSX | 1990 Acura NSX

What has now become the 2017 Acura NSX made its debut strictly as an exercise in design in the form of a concept vehicle at the 2012 Detroit International Auto Show, that had yet to be given approval for production. It received such an overwhelmingly positive reaction at the show, however, that the decision to proceed with its development followed shortly thereafter.

The original course of action for the second generation NSX was always for it to be a hybrid model, but significant changes took place over the lengthy period of its metamorphosis, and about halfway through the development process, a more revolutionary approach, with advanced technology became the focus, trumping what was to have been a more conventional hybrid vehicle. Among its many innovations, this latest iteration NSX showcases a “man-machine synergy” approach with its Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD) – the first such technology in the normal realm of supercars, a categorization that it now justifiably warrants. This necessitated changing from a normally aspirated engine in a transverse orientation to a longitudinally mounted, twin-turbo V6, essentially, requiring a completely new clean sheet design.

2017 Acura NSX Sport Hybrid

This next generation Sport Hybrid SH-AWD power unit is comprised of the all-new twin-turbocharged, mid-mounted V6 engine that’s mated to an also all-new 9-speed, paddle shifted dual-clutch transmission and Direct Drive Motor that generates instant engine torque response. It also functions as a generator to constantly maintain the hybrid batteries’ charge state as well as consistently supporting driver initiated demands. These rear power unit systems work in conjunction with the two front electric motors and the mechanical limited-slip differential, which are enhanced by the capabilities of the front-mounted Twin Motor Unit (TMU).

Encapsulated by the TMU are two electric motors that independently supply power to the left and right front wheels, ultimately providing “active AWD”, increasing forward acceleration, and continuously varying both positive and negative torque directed to the front wheels. This action results in a “direct yaw control” effect that enhances agility, stability, performance, and response, or true torque vectoring, which is available at any speed in both throttle-on and throttle off scenarios. The TMU additionally provides regenerative brake force, assisting in braking demands, while at the same time recharging the hybrid battery.

The 9 DCT transmission is purpose built, utilizing a new design, that places the clutch and differential side-by-side in a common housing, with a parallel shaft gear set arrangement.

The key hybrid component is the Intelligent Power Drive Unit (PDU) that contains the lithium-ion battery pack. This advanced battery pack consists of four modules, each with 18 individual battery cells contained within a specially-designed, caseless structure utilizing the vehicle body itself for a sturdy lightweight housing. The hybrid system’s PDU incorporates a compact “three-in-one” design, converting direct current to alternating current, supplying all three electric motors.

All of this is based on a space frame chassis composed primarily of aluminum in a new application – ablation cast aluminum frame members fore and aft combined with three-dimensional bent and quenched frame members, yielding a high rate of torsional rigidity.

The total motive force delivered by the combined systems is 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of torque.

Like the space frame, a mix of lightweight materials for the body’s exterior makeup, including: sheet hydro-formed aluminum for the outer door skins; aluminum stampings for the hood and roof (with a carbon fiber roof optionally available); sheet molding compound for the fenders and deck lid; a carbon fiber front floor panel; and a high-temperature-resistant ABS plastic utilized in proximity of the engine. The composite twin fuel tanks are mounted behind the rear bulkhead in front of the engine.

2017 Acura NSX

The NSX’s suspension componentry consists of an all-aluminum double wishbone arrangement with double lower control arms up front and an independent multilink setup aft. Active Gen III MR coilover magnetorheological dampers are placed at all four corners, with two adjustable settings that vary with different drive modes. The Acura supercar rolls on staggered Continental ContiSport tires as standard fare, with Michelin Pilot Sport2 high-performance rubber, and Pirelli P-Zero TROFEO ultimate performance donuts optionally available.