From the May 2022 issue of Car and Driver.
Production of the second-generation Acura NSX is ending. The reason is simple: In five years, only 2548 sold globally, which must be at least mildly disappointing to the folks at Acura. The NSX is arguably one of the most underappreciated performance cars on the market—but that statement is not without a few caveats.
The NSX has struggled to find its way. To close its run, the final 350 cars built will be the new 600-hp Type S edition, which retains everything that was very good about the mid-engine hybrid sports car and adds elements that worked from the GT3 program. Thanks to the race car’s turbochargers pumping up to 16.1 psi of boost (up 0.9 over the standard car), new injectors, and 15 percent more efficient intercoolers, the double-overhead-cam V-6 benefits from a 20-hp bump and 36 more pound-feet of torque. Acura has also reprogrammed the adaptive magnetorheological dampers and electrically assisted power steering, somehow cut the nine-speed dual-clutch auto’s shift times in half, and fitted new Honda-spec Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tires, although the skidpad grip chimed in at 0.99 g, a few hundredths lower than we expected. Despite the added power, the Type S ran the same 2.9-second time to 60 as the last NSX we tested, yet it clipped a tenth to post an 11.0-second quarter-mile at 126 mph.
On the nearly two-mile Long Beach road course, Acura claims, the Type S is three seconds faster than last year’s car, a large improvement on a bumpy, unforgiving circuit. On public roads, the Type S gives up nothing to the old car in exchange for the extra speed. The ride is still supple, even in the most extreme Sport+ mode.
In the canyons north of Los Angeles, the Type S builds on the strengths of the second-gen NSX. It still can keep up with supercars that cost four to five times more, which, you might be old enough to remember, was pretty much what was said about the original NSX back in the early ’90s.
On its new tires, and with the added power and tweaking, the Type S is absolutely banzai fast up the road. The steering is perfectly sharp, the carbon-ceramic brakes scrub speed while maintaining beautiful stability, the torque from the electric motors is instant and overwhelming, and the poise deep into the triple digits is magic. Acura manipulated the airflow around the car to optimize both engine cooling and high-speed composure. You’d need a McLaren 720S (at double the Acura’s price) or a Ferrari SF90 (at triple the Acura’s price or more) to gap an NSX Type S on a curvy road.
Dynamically, there’s very little to criticize here when bending the Type S into and out of corners. The hybrid system remains a mostly invisible hand filling in torque where it would otherwise dip—that is, until max thrust is requested. The Type S handles like it’s at least 300 pounds lighter than its 3898-pound curb weight would suggest. And despite that there aren’t any whiz-bang features and the infotainment touchscreen is out of an old Honda Civic, the materials and fit are commensurate with the $171,495 base price.
Now, for those caveats. While the Type S cabin is attractive, larger drivers will find the cockpit a bit too small for daily use or long road trips. The roof intrudes on the driver above the door glass, and so while headroom is adequate, seeing out is difficult. A Porsche 911 is a London Taxi by comparison.
The hybrid system, though seamlessly integrated, makes the NSX act like a Toyota Prius around town in Normal mode as it switches from slowpoke electric-only to the gas engine. This may be fine for the NSX customer who wants to save fuel or has cranky neighbors who like to sleep in. But even in Sport+ mode, at legal(ish) and reasonable speeds, the Type S plants itself on the refined and demure side of the supercar spectrum. In contrast, a Porsche 911 GT3 reminds you of its specialness 100 percent of the time, both on track and when slogging along on a Los Angeles freeway.
The Type S attempts to pull off a split personality. In Normal mode, it downplays the whole supercar shtick, moving about quietly and without much verve. But because it’s low and somewhat cramped, there’s no forgetting you’re in a mid-engine two-seater with a fighter-plane body, regardless of how silently it operates. The solution is to always lean into it. Fortunately, flicking the big silver knob on the dash over to Sport+ and selecting the gearbox’s manual mode the very second you start the car will keep the engine on and the throttle sharp, with 94 decibels of screaming V-6 going right to your ears at wide-open throttle. That’s better.
Speak to NSX owners, first and second generation alike, and you’ll find a passionate group in love with their cars. In many ways, the NSX still punches above its weight class. But when you’re knocking on the door of 200 large, there are more choices than ever—911 Turbo S, Audi R8, McLaren GT—and the NSX didn’t connect with most enthusiasts. Nevertheless, if you’ve ever considered an NSX for even a second, the Type S is not only your last chance but your best chance to get one of the greatest Japanese sports cars ever sold to the public.
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