January 11, 2012

Acura NSX Concept

Redesigned RDX (left), NSX Concept (middle), ILX Concept (right)

   It’s been a rough year for Acura.  The tsunami, floods in Thailand, and the competition of the North American manufacturers having a solid year.  Acura brought the redesigned RDX and the entry-level luxury sedan ILX concept to the North American International Auto Show in 2012.  The media snuck in some naps for the RDX and ILX presentations.  We all knew why we were there and it wasn’t for those vehicles.  The ILX concept is a Civic in an evening dress and the other is to make Soccer Moms feel superior to their mini-van counterparts.  The shroud in the middle of the stage is what held my attention.
   Takanobu Ito, President of Honda Motor Co., was on the engineering team for the original NSX 25 years ago as a much younger man.  He has aged well and the original NSX is no longer in production.  Honda has tried to restart the NSX a couple of times before and the concepts haven’t made it to production yet.
   The shroud was removed and the first pictures of the new NSX concept were soon available to the masses.  Every Man’s is not a “we got the story first” publication.  That’s for overachievers and (insert snarky reference to your choice of people who disappoint you here).  After I hip-checked the Asian lady next to me, who was very understanding as she gave me a dead leg, I snapped off my version of the first pictures of the NSX concept.  The lines of the NSX are sweeping and aggressive.  The nose looks like you’re staring down the barrel of an aquatic predator.

   Second only to the actual unveiling of the NSX was the cheer that went up when it was announced that the Sport-Hybrid engine package for the NSX will be researched & developed in Ohio.  The NSX will use a mid-engine V6 and an electric engine to couple performance and handling.  Acura is calling it a Sport Hybrid with All Wheel Drive (AWD) or SH-AWD (the SH stands for Super Handling, not Sport Hybrid, so really it is a SH with SH-AWD…).  When I think Super Car, a V6 with an electric motor doesn’t spring to mind.  It took me awhile to realize that the video Acura gave us was actually Gran Turismo video game footage and not a real car, hence the R&D of the drivetrain in Ohio, it’s not available yet.  It’s also why Acura didn’t drive the NSX out onto the stage, but just pulled the sheet off.  The key to the NSX’s great performance and handling is taken from its predecessor.  The thrust to weight ratio is the key to making the NSX.

   According to the video from Acura the electric motor is providing power to the front two wheels.  The V6 is powering the rear wheels and providing most of the power and acceleration.  The electric motor is there to improve the handling.  The motor can provide power to the outside wheel, while using the inside one to preform regenerative braking, which helps charge the electric motor and turn the NSX into the corner with more precision. 
   “The NSX will make the driver one with the car to enhance dynamic driving abilities without getting in the way,” said Takanobu Ito.  When asked if this meant that the NSX would be able to read the thoughts of the driver and respond accordingly, Mr. Ito continued to walk away talking to the Japanese reporter who had been interviewing him.  He might not have heard the question. 
   The new NSX is taking steps towards being available to the world in the next three years.  Acura is noncommittal on an actual release date, but there is a lot of R&D still to come. With the economy slowly swinging back to not depressing, it was uplifting to see a number of concept vehicles this year.  Too bad Acura engineers are going to have to look for houses in Ohio.  I hear it’s pretty cold and full of Buckeyes there…   Poor Bastards.

Courtesy of Acura Motor Co.

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