2021 Acura NSX — The silent, screaming supercar

By Jim Prueter

(March 25, 2021) The Acura NSX supercar couldn’t help but turn heads and draw a crowd whenever I parked. The styling is gorgeous with an exterior design that’s enticingly worthy of praise. No crazy swoops, no melodramatic over-the-top spoilers at the rear or sculpted fins, rather styling that’s astonishingly beautiful, mostly. The snout is large and a bit on the fussy side, the rear a bit heavyset, but overall errs on mimicking the likes of the McLaren 570S in my eyes.

Our test NSX was finished in the spectacular Valencia Red Pear finish ($6,000) with looks that more than compensate for any other fault the vehicle may have.

This is the second act NSX, reborn and introduced for 2017. The first ed
ition was introduced in 1990 to bring both a halo effect to the Acura brand and compete with a wide range of cars at the time including the Dodge Viper SRT, Ford GT, Ferrari and Porsche. It was priced at $60,600 — a bargain price — and was, in most ways vastly better than its competitors. It was refined, not overpowered and drove like a dream. It was powered by a 270-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 engine.

The new NSX starts at $157,500, and is a mid-engine, two-seat Berlinetta sports coupe that’s a hybrid all-wheel drive setup powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 with three electric motors for a combined total of 573 horsepower. It’s bolted to a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The result is unlike any supercar exotica on the market.

On the road, performance is impressive, managing a zero-to-60 mph time of just three seconds and a top speed of 191 mph. Not bad for a car weighing in at around 3,800 pounds. Three selectable drive modes allow the driver to choose their driving experience. “Quiet,” allows the hybrid system to operate the vehicle in silence up to 40 mph with a light tough on the gas pedal. “Sport” mode adjusts the variable ratio transmission with a balance of gas and electric power depending on road conditions and your driving eagerness. “Sport+” is the most aggressive with the engine always active, sharper suspension and steering response.

Handling is beyond amazing. I put it to the test outside Phoenix in sharp turns, dramatic elevation changes and flat-out straightaways. Holding speed throughout a sharp curve is a spectacular experience. Braking is a seamless blend of regenerative and predictable confidence with the optional carbon ceramic braking setup ($9,900). The overall driving experience delivers a high degree of predictability and practicality.

The cabin is especially tight and getting in and out of the NSX is nearly impossible without bumping the noggin’ climbing in and out. Anyone over 6-2 is going to struggle spending much time behind the wheel. Storage space is virtually non-existent. The cupholder is an attachment found inside the glove box and has to manually be attached. Visibility is compromised and I’m baffled by the omission of any blind spot monitoring or warning on the vehicle. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard and our NSX came with the optional ELS Studio Audio & Technology Package with 580W and nine-speaker setup ($500). And, consistent with current Honda and Acura cars, no physical audio volume knob.

I was surprised by the ample plastic surfaces and plastic trim in a supercar that exceeded $200k. The faux brushed metal was far from convincing and primary touch points felt and looked parts-bin cheap. Even the drive mode knob was plastic, same for grab-handle trim on the door, gear selector button and all other switchgear. Simply astonishing and disappointing. The only cargo space is a four cubic foot area beneath the rear engine hatch. Golf clubs or luggage will have to occupy the passenger’s seating space.

The NSX is in most ways a profound supercar, especially given the hybrid performance setup. It’s spectacularly fast, eye-candy in appearance and wonderfully fun to drive. But sales have been dismal with most months seeing single or low double-digit sales numbers nationwide. It’s reported Acura will drop $20k from the window sticker price right from the start.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $157,500
Price as Tested: $203,995
Engine/Transmission: 573-hp 3.5-Liter twin turbocharged V-6 with three electric hybrid motor drive system paired with a nine-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Fuel Economy: 21/22/21 mpg City/Highway/Combined
Seats: 2

Where Built: Marysville, Ohio

Crash Test Ratings: It’s customary and typical that low-production volume exotic supercars are not crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Competes With:
Audi R8
Ferrari Roma
Lamborghini Huracan EVO
Maserati MC20
Mercedes GT R
McLaren 540,570
Porsche 911 Turbo

Fab Features
Flexible hybrid powertrain
Eye-catching styling
Gut-punching acceleration