by Ian Wright
As far as second acts go, following up to something like the original Acura NSX is a very tough task. But when you pack a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 amidship and augment it with three electric motors to produce 573 horsepower in base form or 600 hp in range-topping Type S guise, suddenly the second-generation Acura NSX starts looking like it can live up to the original's 'New Sportscar eXperimental' designation. Now at the tail-end of its life, 2022 will be the last year for the second-gen japanese supercar. As has always been the case, Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) distributes the power to an all-wheel-drive system, while a quick-shifting nine-speed dual-clutch transmission manages combustion power. When the corners arrive, and they arrive quickly, the taut and balanced chassis combine with the SH-AWD system to deliver a level of grip and handling usually reserved for high-end sports cars with European badges. The Acura NSX, however, is designed and built in the USA.
The NSX isn't perfect, though. While it delivers physical drama all day long, and with Acura reliability, it doesn't have the aural drama of many of its gasoline-only powered contemporaries like the Ferrari F8 Tributo. Acura is delivering a tremendous amount of car for the money, but some will be disappointed by the craftsmanship in the cabin of a car worth $170,000. As we welcome in the Type S as the swansong for the NSX, we're simply left wondering whether the hybrid sequel to the original platinum-selling album will go down in history quite like the original did.
First revealed as a 2017 model, the second-generation NSX was an entirely different prospect to its predecessor in that it introduced a new hybrid powertrain. As is the case with many high-end supercars, the second-gen NSX hasn't vastly changed through the years. However, the new Type S receives some of the most comprehensive enhancements to the car since its launch. The hybrid powertrain now produces 600 hp and 492 lb-ft thanks to changes like an increase in boost pressure and a 20 percent greater battery capacity. The DCT gearbox has been retuned for 50 percent faster upshifts. Other changes include increased front/rear tracks, new Pirelli P-Zero tires, a carbon fiber roof, some styling changes, and an available Lightweight package that saves just under 58 pounds.
The 2022 model, available only in Type S guise, is the final production year of the second-gen NSX. Only 350 will be produced worldwide and 300 of these are destined for the US market.
For 2021, Acura made no changes to the NSX other than the addition of Long Beach Blue exterior paint.
As with 2021, the 2020 NSX saw only one change. The bright Indy Yellow was added to the color palette for this model year.
The 2019 model year was a more significant one as Acura introduced several more changes to the NSX and these were not merely aesthetic. The chassis was tweaked, there was a software update for improved performance, and new Continental SportContact 6 tires improved grip levels. Thermal Orange paint was a new color option, and this looked especially good with new gloss black exterior trim. For this model year, Acura made the Technology Package standard. That added navigation, a better sound system, and parking sensors. Semi-aniline leather seats with Alcantara were made standard too. Overall, the 2019 NSX packed in nearly $5,000 of added equipment over the 2018 model.
The 2018 Acura NSX saw no new changes and was identical to the 2017 model.
As far as replacements go, the second-gen NSX was a total departure from its predecessor when it arrived for the 2017 model year. Carbon fiber construction, a hybrid powertrain, and all-wheel drive ensured that it was markedly different from the car it replaced.
On paper, the hybrid Acura NSX sounds needlessly complicated with its three electric motors and V6 engine. In reality, it is a superbly engineered sports car with searing pace and far more economical running in daily commuting than other cars with similar performance. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 and three electric motors combine for 573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque, channeled to all four wheels via the brand's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive System. A nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard. For 2022, the NSX Type S is the only available model, a final swansong for this generation of the NSX mixing the same ingredients with a slew of revisions to produce 600 hp and 492 lb-ft.
Outside, the NSX comes with full LED lighting, including distinctive Jewel Eye LED headlights. Adding to the alluring look are staggered 19-/20-inch alloy wheels, flush automatic power door handles, and a rear spoiler. The cabin features two sport seats trimmed in a combination of semi-aniline leather and Alcantara, with both seats featuring four-way power-adjustability. The standard list of amenities includes cruise control, front/rear parking sensors, heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an electronic gear selector, and push-button ignition. A seven-inch touchscreen takes care of infotainment duties and comes with HD Radio, navigation with 3D view, and a nine-speaker ELS sound system.
The Type S is a fine way to see off the second-generation NSX. Various changes to the powertrain have unleashed a further 27 hp and 16 lb-ft of torque. Wider tracks, model-specific Pirelli P-Zero tires, and an NSX GT3-inspired rear diffuser are all aimed at extracting maximum performance from the hybrid supercar. It remains equipped to a high standard with features like power-adjustable seats, a nine-speaker sound system, HD Radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, and LED interior ambient lighting. By speccing the Lightweight package, the car comes with carbon-ceramic brake rotors, a carbon fiber engine cover, and a carbon fiber package for the cabin.
Although carrying a steep asking price, the Acura NSX lives up to its flagship status with a phenomenal powertrain and many standard features. LED lighting adorns the exterior, with the sleek Jewel Eye headlamps linking the supercar to other members of the Acura family. Upscale touches like the flush-mounted automatic door handles remind you that this isn’t any ordinary Acura, though. An attractive mix of semi-aniline leather, Alcantara, and silver trim work together well in the cabin, which features four-way power-adjustable front seats with heating. Other standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, GPS-linked climate control, ambient cabin lighting, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The mid-engine layout of the NSX has dictated its proportions to an extent, and that's no bad thing since this remains Acura's most arresting product by far. It's aggressive, modern, and looks made for high-speed driving, yet stops short of the flamboyance - or gaudiness, depending on your perspective - found in Italian supercars. Standard features include Jewel Eye LED headlamps, automatic power pop-out door handles, forged 19-/20-inch alloy wheels, power-folding side mirrors, and LED taillights. An exposed-weave carbon-fiber roof panel and a decklid spoiler in carbon fiber are available.
For the Type S, there are more angular air intakes and a larger carbon fiber diffuser at the back. This diffuser was inspired by the one on the NSX GT3 Evo race car. Other sporty touches include a standard carbon fiber roof, a rear decklid spoiler in the same material. Gloss Berlina Black mirrors, and Type S decals.
Like other supercars of its ilk, the NSX sits low to the ground with a height of just 47.8 inches and a mere 3.8 inches of ground clearance. Its other key dimensions include a 103.5-inch wheelbase, a length of 176.1 inches, and a considerable width including the mirrors of 87.3 inches. This makes the NSX quite a bit wider than an Audi R8, for example. Without any extras equipped, the NSX has a curb weight of 3,878 pounds, with the battery no doubt adding to the car's heft. The Type S increases to 3,946 lbs with additional performance hardware, but the Lightweight package reduces the car's weight by almost 58 lbs. It's also longer than the standard model at 178.5 inches.
With its supercar proportions, the second-generation NSX is a head-turner no matter what color it's painted in. When it first arrived, it was offered in stealthy shades like Berlina Black, Nord Gray Metallic, and Source Silver Metallic. But there were also more charismatic hues to choose from such as Valencia Red, Nouvelle Blue, and Curva Red. The initial color palette also included Casino White and 130R White. In 2019, the fiery Thermal Orange Pearl was introduced and Nord Gray was deleted. Over the next two model years Indy Yellow and the stunning Long Beach Blue provided buyers with another two options. For the final iteration of the NSX, the Type S, the limited Gotham Gray in a matte finish was added. Only 70 examples of the NSX will be finished in this shade so its rarity is bound to add to the car's appeal in the years to come.
The NSX's hybrid powertrain was truly astonishing when the car appeared back in 2016, and even though high-performance hybrids/EVs have become more commonplace, one still has to admire what Acura has achieved here. By combining a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine and three electric motors, the NSX's combined system outputs of 573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque give it the grunt to match several Italian exotics. The brand's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system and a quick-shifting nine-speed dual-clutch gearbox help the NSX hit 60 in around three seconds and go on to a top speed of 191 mph. If these superb numbers aren't quite sufficient and you must go faster, the Porsche 911 Turbo will do the job. Or, you can bring your friends along and out-accelerate the NSX in high-performance versions of the Tesla Model S sedan. But there is no denying that the NSX is a viciously capable sports car in a straight line, and it gets even better with the final Type S model which has increased outputs to 600 hp and 492 lb-ft.
Software and chassis updates for the 2019 model reduced the NSX's Suzuka Circuit lap time by almost two seconds. For 2022, the more powerful Type S slashes a further two seconds off the car's lap time on the same circuit as a result of a bump up in power and some other tweaks.
At the heart of the NSX is a mid-mounted 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that features variable timing control and dry-sump lubrication. On its own, the V6 produced 500 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, or 573 hp and 476 lb-ft when the three electric motors are added to the mix. In the Type S, the final evolution of the second-gen NSX, total system outputs are increased to 600 hp and 492 lb-ft. The changes to the Type S included an increase in boost pressure and revised programming for the electric motors. Still, all versions of the second-gen NSX are incredibly quick.
All NSXs have a twin motor unit powers the front wheels which Acura says dishes out immediate torque to the front wheels, improving the NSX's passing power. At the back, a direct drive electric motor works together with the V6 to provide stupendous acceleration off the mark. The final piece of the puzzle is the lithium-ion battery which is positioned low-down and behind the seats.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the NSX is how the complex powertrain's parts work together seamlessly; as the driver, all you are aware of is a constant, sustained surge of power that firmly presses you into your seat. The nine-speed DCT is also effective, shifting through its ratios quickly and allowing for passing maneuvers that are over in a flash. Upshift responses have been enhanced with the Type S, but the snappy gearbox has always been a fine partner to the hybrid powertrain. Some other sports cars with more conventional powertrains sound more engaging and provide a more visceral experience, but the NSX turns in a thoroughly polished performance.
The NSX is blisteringly quick off the line and gets faster from there. No matter what mode is selected, mashing the throttle into the carpet results in instant torque from the electric motors propelling it forward while the turbos spool up. There's little drama as the SH-AWD system is impeccable at getting the grip down, and the twin-turbo V6 doesn't wail like a banshee. There's just an overwhelming sense of velocity, punctuated by being pressed firmly back into the comfortable bucket seats. The brakes are smooth to go on, but create the kind of stopping power needed for a car that can get you a night in jail in seven seconds flat. Corners are a physical sensation as there is so much grip available mid-corner, and the drivetrain is more than happy to spit you out the other side with aplomb. The steering is pinpoint precise, the chassis remains flat and calm, the tires grip like high-end summer rubber should, and the active vector system can manage power individually to each wheel to keep traction consistent. This means the NSX flatters the not so experienced driver, and an experienced driver has to push things extra hard to start finding the limits.
Further tweaks to the Type S chassis and earlier downshifting in Sport+ mode make it feel even more involving than before. In Track mode, downshifts have been further optimized and Acura has reworked the sound profiles with a more audible cue on the ideal shift points.
In the performance-orientated Sport modes, the NSX defies physics as a supercar should and inspires a sense of confidence they, perhaps, shouldn't in inexperienced hands. The NSX really separates itself from the competition when you drop into comfort mode and leave the back roads to enter civilization again. Through the suburbs and around town, the NSX is incredibly civilized. The steering lightens, the throttle becomes less sensitive, and the suspension is no less comfortable than a mildly sporty sedan. The amount of visibility around the cockpit comes into its own, although the engine behind the driver is an expected hindrance. The seats keep you in place when the car is trying to press your face against the side windows but are still comfortable enough for a long road trip. For a car that can dedicate itself to shaving tenths of a second off lap times, it's an incredibly civilized daily driver.
EPA ratings for the 2022 Acura NSX Type S were not available at the time of writing. With different power and weight figures compared to the 2021 model, there's no guaranteeing if efficiency has remained the same. The regular NSX managed 21/22/21 mpg city/highway/combined, which are good numbers considering the available performance. The hybrid powertrain's biggest benefits are to be found in city driving, where rivals like the Audi R8 (13-14 mpg) are far less efficient. Out on the highway, the gap is a lot narrower. With a 15.6-gallon capacity between its twin fuel tanks, the NSX will be able to travel about 327 miles between visits to the gas station.
A mix of high-quality leather and Alcantara materials surround the driver and passenger in what is a comfortable and surprisingly spacious cabin. For the Type S, there are specially embroidered Type S logos and a new Alcantara headliner. There are no massive compromises here once you're seated and forward visibility is excellent. However, the NSX costs just under $170,000 and that opens up the interior to further scrutiny. From this perspective, it doesn't feel quite as special as some other competitors in this segment and there are too many similarities to everyday Acura sedans. The infotainment system isn't as easy to use as it should be and the absence of a physical volume knob will frustrate some. However, there are many features equipped as standard such as front/rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, and a multi-view rear vision camera.
The NSX is a two-seater and a comfortable one for driver and passenger. There are 42.9 inches of legroom, which compares to a mid-size sedan. The headroom isn't luxurious, but our six-foot-one reviewer didn't bump his head. That also means track day warriors won't have a problem wearing a helmet inside the NSX. Also crucial for comfort in a supercar is hip and shoulder room, of which there's plenty of both. The center console isn't big, and the NSX comes with a clip-on double cup holder as a result, but there's enough elbow room that a driver and passenger won't get on each other's nerves over long distances. It's also easy to get in and out of, despite the large door sills that owners will learn to keep clean if they don't want to end up with dirty pants, skirts, or dresses.
The NSX's sport seats are trimmed in a combination of semi-aniline premium leather and Alcantara. There are a number of other sporty touches like the leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-covered dashboard, aluminum sport pedals, contrast stitching on the door panels and dash, and a glovebox lid in Alcantara. The Type S gets an Alcantara headliner and embroidered Type S logo on the glovebox. In the regular models, interior color schemes include Indigo, Ebony, Orchid, Saddle, and Red, with each choice adding the selected color to the seats, lower door panels, and center console. The Type S removes some of these options and gives you the option of full semi-aniline leather in place of the leather/Alcantara combo, while the regular NSX has the option of luxurious Milano leather. Also on the standard model, lighter, manually-adjustable seats are also offered.
Carbon-fiber trim can additionally be added to the meter visor and the steering wheel garnish.
At a mere 4.4 cubic feet, it seems like a stretch to refer to the NSX's cargo area as a trunk. Two smaller bags are all that will fit in the space which is sandwiched between the rear bumper and engine compartment. Even worse, this tiny trunk area is susceptible to heat buildup because of its positioning close to the engine, so it isn't an ideal place to store certain food items. The NSX doesn't have a frunk because space in front is taken up by the twin electric motors.
Interior storage space leaves much to be desired, with not much more than a glovebox and minimal space between the seats by virtue of a small multi-function console. Detachable cupholders are offered but these will take up space on the passenger-side of the cabin, so aren't quite ideal.
The Acura NSX comes standard with features such as electric air conditioning with dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access, push-button ignition, an electronic gear selector, a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, 12-volt power outlets, and a tilt/telescoping steering column. Both occupants benefit from four-way power-adjustable sport seats with heating, along with interior ambient lighting. Other driver convenience items include hill start assist, cruise control, front/rear parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and an automatic brake hold function for the electric parking brake. A digital gauge cluster is placed ahead of the driver and is dominated by the tachometer, with smaller analog displays for engine temperature and gas levels. The driver gets a multi-function steering wheel with transmission shift paddles.
For a car costing in the region of $170,000, the infotainment system is not a stellar experience. The seven-inch touchscreen is fine, but clearly from the Honda/Acura parts bin. That means the same complaints apply here, particularly as it's not from other more recent models that have improved. The user interface is dated, and the menu system is not intuitive. Thankfully, the NSX does come with a powerful 508-watt, nine-speaker ELS premium audio system that sounds fantastic despite the confined space not giving the soundwaves room to breathe. Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Pandora compatibility, satellite-linked navigation, Siri Eyes Free, and HD Radio. SiriusXM is offered as an option.
At the time of writing, the last recall on record for the Acura NSX affected the 2019 model. According to the NHTSA, the issue was for a fuel pump that may fail, which could lead to an engine stall while driving. Other than this, the NSX appears to be trouble-free. Acura sells the NSX with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile drivetrain warranty. The NSX's hybrid components are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Crash-testing the Acura NSX would be a prohibitively expensive exercise, so neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has yet evaluated the supercar for crashworthiness.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
To keep both the driver and passenger safe if the worst happens, the Acura NSX comes with a grand total of seven airbags, including side curtain airbags and a driver's knee airbag. Along with these, the car comes with traction control, auto high beams, tire-pressure monitoring, a multi-view rear camera with dynamic guidelines, front/rear parking sensors, cruise control, and LED daytime running lights. Unfortunately, more advanced driver-assist technologies like rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring aren't available, although this is common on high-performance sports cars like the NSX. The twin fuel tanks are positioned between the rear bulkhead and the engine, a setup that improves safety should a rear-end crash occur.
The NSX is a stunning car and much underrated, and it's better than ever in Type S guise. The extra power won't be immediately noticeable to everyone, but the dynamic enhancements make it quicker around the track than previous incarnations of the NSX. However, it speaks to a certain type of supercar buyer. It doesn't have the drama of some of its contemporaries in dynamics and noise, but it does have breathtaking performance and an understated style about it. Its drivetrain was ahead of its time when the NSX came out but, although other automakers build hybrid supercars, the NSX still beats them on price and, therefore, accessibility. It also beats everyone out on the refinement of the powertrain, despite not being the new kid on the block anymore.
The NSX has been described as the Porsche 918 you can actually buy, and the statement still holds water. Acura's supercar is still a technological and performance marvel. It's also unique in that there are supercars that can be daily driven; however, the NSX is one you'll still want to daily drive three months into ownership. If you can get your hands on the limited Type S, it's only likely to increase in desirability and appeal as the years go by.
An MSRP of $157,500 for the regular model or $169,500 for the Type S will grant you access to Acura NSX ownership, a lofty sum of money that puts it into the same territory as the Audi R8 and the Porsche 911 Turbo, both of which start at around the $170,000 mark. The NSX's price excludes a destination/handling charge of $1,995, along with tax, registration, and licensing costs. The Type S will likely increase in value, though, with a limited run of only 350 globally and 300 of those being in the US.
Many high-performance sports cars offer carbon-fiber upgrades and the Acura NSX is no different. On regular NSXs, an available Carbon Fiber Exterior Sport Package adds well over $10,000 to the base price as it also requires the fitment of a carbon-fiber engine cover. With this box ticked, trim pieces like the rear diffuser, side sills, and lower front lip are made from the exotic material. A carbon-fiber decklid spoiler can be separately equipped. Similarly, a Carbon Fiber Interior Sport Package can be added to the cabin, with elements like the steering wheel and gauge cluster cover receiving this material. Finally, a carbon-fiber roof can be equipped. Beyond aesthetic enhancements like different wheels and lightweight manually-adjustable seats, the NSX's feature count can't be significantly enhanced by way of any packages.
For the Type S, the most expensive option is the Lightweight package at $13,000. It lowers the car's weight by nearly 58 pounds and includes carbon-ceramic brakes, a carbon fiber engine cover, and a carbon fiber interior package. The Carbon Fiber Interior Sport package costs $2,500 on its own, and carbon-ceramic brakes with red calipers are $9,900. Other upgrades include SiriusXM for $500 and a carbon fiber engine cover for $3,600.
Whereas previously, the standard NSX was a one-trim affair, there are now two to choose from. If you're buying new in 2022, the Type S is your only option, but with only 300 stateside, demand will be high and supply low. We've always felt that while the standard model was a great supercar, it lacked the mindblowing performance, soundtrack, and looks to truly set it apart, never really doing enough to cement itself as a forward-thinking supercar or a particularly special one. The Type S changes that up, a little, with more power, revised steering and suspension, unique looks, and, of course, exclusivity. We have to say that if you can get your hands on a Type S, it'll be a great car and an even better investment. To unlock this car's maximum potential, we'd add the Lightweight package. We'd also go for the rare, stunning Gotham Gray Matte paint. With these extras, the NSX Type S will cost over $190,000 including destination.
The Audi R8 is a more conventional supercar in the sense that it boasts a large-capacity, naturally-aspirated V10 screamer. With up to 602 horsepower but less torque at 413 lb-ft, the R8 isn't as quick to 60 mph, but the sheer aural theatrics from that V10 will make you think it is. It can also reach the magic 200-mph mark if that matters. Both cars stick to the road like glue yet are comfortable enough to live with every day. In the cabins, the R8 wins with superior materials and much better infotainment tech, whereas the NSX feels outdated in this area. Although the NSX's hybrid powertrain makes it the more efficient sports car, this same high-tech approach removes a layer of emotion with the Acura that is prevalent in the louder, brasher R8. The NSX is far from a boring machine, but it's the R8 that does a better job of stirring the soul.
Although discontinued, the BMW i8 also offered a revolutionary hybrid powertrain, but a comparatively meek 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo motor and just one electric motor means that it isn't as powerful or quick as the NSX. However, as a plug-in hybrid, the i8 is far more efficient and has a combined MPGe rating of 69. Both of these cars handle well, but neither is as awe-inspiring to drive as conventionally powered sports cars at similar prices. The i8 perhaps looked even more breathtaking and has a well-designed cabin plus extra packing space via two small rear seats. There are also a few more safety features available to the i8. If it comes down to a secondhand purchase between these two, we recommend a drive in each to determine which is best. The NSX is a better performance car, but the i8 is an even more alluring machine to look at and can be genuinely thrifty. Both are thoroughly unique offerings in this segment.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Acura NSX: