When the Acura NSX originally made its debut back in 2016, Acura was keen on reestablishing itself as a technological leader, while also breathing new life into arguably one of its most iconic nameplates. The reborn NSX proved to be a spirited offering, and smashed any doubts that were cast on it with its impressive performance numbers, smooth hybrid technology, and being a futuristic shot of adrenaline for buyers looking for something different from the usual Porsche and even Ferrari powered tonics that were out in the marketplace at the time.
But like all good things, even the NSX can be further honed and improved to help it maintain its winning ways. But have these improvements dulled the overall driving experience, and removed some of the unique magic that defines an NSX? To find out, we visited Road America raceway in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin to see for ourselves if these subtle improvements produced big results while we attended MAMA‘s annual Spring Rally event.
Tweaked Exterior Styling Retains The Basic DNA:
When we say “tweaked,” we are not kidding, with the 2019 Acura NSX not straying too far from some of the themes that defined its 2016 debut. The car still looks like it leaped right out of the pages of a trendy Japanese manga strip, with a strong emphasis on promoting a unique blend of futuristic elegance and honed athletic lines.
The only discernible change for 2019 is found in the “beak” shaped area of the front fascia, with that piece now being painted to match the rest of the body instead of standing out in its separate silver hued scheme. With the perfection that already exists in the design, the old adage “why mess with a good thing” strongly applies here. The NSX is still arguably one of the most striking entries in the market, with perhaps only the Aston Martin Vantage managing to score a bit higher in aesthetic ambiance. The unified beak also adds to the NSX’s rocket style look as well, and makes the car appear ready to lunge forward at a moments notice.
The side profile manages to punch well above its weight class when it comes to catching the eye of observers, and to the unassuming members of the viewing public, they might mistake it for a Lamborghini entry at first glance. The rear features dual LED taillights, with the car Acura had on hand even featuring the optional $3,000 carbon fiber decklid spoiler. Rounding out things are centrally mounted quad exhaust tips that serve as a stylish visual endcap, and do a great job of unifying the look even further. This sinister motif also allows the NSX to have a unique ambiance, and this character is just enough to help it stand out against some of its international rivals.
Shapely Cabin Blends Functionality And Comfort:
The interior of the NSX in contrast to the attention grabbing exterior is decidedly more restrained, but it still manages to have a high degree of comfort and functionality.
Indigo Blue leather accents are a new addition for 2019, and they looked great in our tester. Acura designers even added copious amounts of Alcantara for good measure, and also balanced things out with healthy amounts of carbon fiber. We particularly adored the latter on the squareish shaped steering wheel which fits perfectly in the driver’s hands, and even comes equipped with special grips at the 10 and 2 position to encourage optimum hand placement.
The cabin is a very comfortable place to spend time in, with the low mounted leather sport seats providing a good amount of apex carving support to make up for the fact they are a bit too firm in everyday use. However, the extremely low seating position (a nod to good driving dynamics) also makes exiting the NSX a bit of a challenge for taller drivers. Entry on the other hand is easy in contrast, with very minimal effort needed to get your legs in place before you nestle yourself into the drivers seat.
Control placement is very good for a vehicle of its type, and some of the standard features on hand will make you think that you are in the brand’s more luxury oriented offerings versus being in a track honed supercar.
While our brief track only drive did prevent us from formally evaluating the ELS 3D audio system that helps shape the NSX’s audio experience, we think that the sound of the engine going full song behind your head is a much better melody than the drab and shapeless sea of songs that define the current state of the music industry.
With the advanced technology wielded by the powertrain and some of the artistry that went into its exterior design, its a shame that the cabin is still behind the times when it comes to some of the finer details that define the NSX’s interior. For example, the NSX is still equipped with Honda’s outdated and rapidly aging infotainment system. This system is found in lesser offerings like the Honda Ridgeline, and it does not quite match the bespoke experience that the NSX is trying to achieve, especially when it comes to wowing potential owners with a suite of advanced interior amenities.
As is the case with some of our other encounters with this system, some functions are very difficult to use, and the graphics are not very informative. The lone reprieve (along with the fore-mentioned ELS system) is the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, which is also a new addition for the 2019 model year.
Part Showpiece, Part Track Slayer:
Two key pillars have always been a part of the broader NSX experience, A V6 engine, and offering performance for an impressive amount of value. On those fronts, we are pleased to report that the NSX can still hit the bullseye when it comes to delivering on these expectations. Like before, the high revving twin-turbocharged 3.5 liter V6 carries over and is still mated to a trick hybrid system that is augmented by electric motors. The end result of this holy trinity of turbochargers, six cylinders and a pinch of eco friendliness is a potent 573 horsepower which is enough to rocket the NSX to 60 mph in a blistering 2.9 seconds, and a final top speed of 191 miles an hour. Acura claims that its novel “zero lag” system eliminates the turbo lag that plagues a lot of current turbocharged offerings, and this system really makes a difference when it’s time to put the NSX through its paces.
While Acura did not release the car it had on hand onto the scenic street routes that snake their way through the rolling terrain surrounding Road America, company reps opted for the next best thing, and allowed this beast to roam in its natural track-centric habitat. It is here where the engine’s true potential really shines through.
Mashing the accelerator through some of Road America’s long straights instantly moves your brain towards the back of your skull thanks in part to the super sticky Continental SportContact 6 summer tires, as well as Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel drive system. Acura engineers didn’t do any tinkering with the engine, and we are very glad they left things alone, considering that it already does a good job punching your ticket for thrill ride-esque acceleration and the ability to see the scenery blur before your eyes at the same time.
The bulk of the revisions that did take place for the new model year are found in some of the non-engine related areas of performance, with the handling hardware receiving much needed time and attention.
With the help of a pro driving instructor in the passenger seat, we were able to experience just how much sheer grip is provided by not only the tires, but also the stiffer sway bars, and even the extra six percent in structural rigidity that Acura engineers managed to dial into the NSX’s structure. This is especially apparent when you take the car through challenging apexes, with the NSX feeling almost telepathic to the driver, and being a very communicative partner when pushed hard.
This feeling of perfect synergy is enhanced by the perfectly weighted and delightfully accurate steering system that firms up progressively when pushed, while the complete absence of bodyroll helps inspire even more confidence from drivers of all skill levels. Acura’s torque vectoring system also plays a prominent role here with its ability to seamlessly deliver power to all four wheels for effortless entry into corners and the high speed exits that inevitably accompany them.
Despite the impressively strong showing that our tester displayed out on the track, we are still eager to try it out in formal street driving to see if the NSX can also roleplay as a weekend car for the bulk of its clientele, especially those that prefer long road trips and the ability to be seen and noticed to engaging in weekend track sprints.
Pricing for the 2019 Acura NSX reflects its impressive levels of performance with the base model starting at $157,500. This pricing is a bit steep for its bespoke segment, with this factoid highlighted by the base price of a few of its rivals. The 2019 Porsche 911 Turbo for example starts at $133,300 while the more powerful Audi R8 starts at a slightly higher $138,700. Meanwhile the revamped Aston Martin Vantage is also priced lower, with the base model starting at $149,995.
However, as is the case with other Aston Martin products, tacking on optional extras and other custom touches will cause the price to rapidly shoot past the NSX in short order. Speaking of which, our Casino White tester (a $700 option) had a short but wallet busting list of options, with some of the highlights being the $12,600 carbon fiber exterior sport package with accompanying carbon fiber engine cover, $10,600 carbon-ceramic brake rotors, and the $6,000 carbon fiber roof package. All told, these pieces of equipment (among others) helped shoot the final price to an eye watering $194,700, and that’s before you add in the $1,800 destination fee.
While your wallet may need some time to recuperate after you purchase it, the NSX is arguably a lot more approachable than the $208,000 McLaren 570S, and is even more distinct than the benchmark Lamborghini Huracan, which should blend nicely with the high levels of quality and refinement that both Acura and Honda are known for. Those latter items also helped define older NSX models, and buyers can feel confident knowing that the new NSX still continues to honor these time honored corporate values.
Despite some of the minor quirks that continue to exist in finer elements of its execution, the 2019 Acura NSX is still a very potent supercar and while we await the opportunity to sample it on our favorite backroads to see how it measures up in normal street driving. Its stellar performance on the track side of the equation should win over its fair share of hearts, especially buyers that might be new to the supercar segment, and want something to set them apart from the mainstream brands from Germany and Italy.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.