2017 Acura NSX Test Drive: Revolution vs. Evolution – the New Sports eXperience [Review]

2017 Acura NSX

The 2017 Acura NSX is in a word, dramatically drop dead gorgeous. Okay, that’s four words, but the car actually warrants more, like futuristic, fantastic, incredible, sexy, and awesome.

The exterior design is a harmonious blend of sharp angles and voluptuous curves while being a case study in function dictating form, with total airflow management as a key element in delivering the level of aerodynamics required for effective and efficient thermal control necessary for the proper operation of its hybrid system. There are six different heat sources to be managed: the twin turbo engine, the 9DCT, the PDU, and the three electric drive motors. Providing sufficient cooling for these elements, airflow is handled through 10 heat exchangers positioned in the front grille area, side “flying C-pillar” air intakes, as well as through the engine compartment. Getting the air out is just as important as getting the air in, and there are outlets positioned in the upper rear quarter sail panels, beneath the rear spoiler lip and in the lower rear fascia in the form of a large horizontal grille flanked by two large vents.

The NSX features one of the lowest centers of gravity in its class making ingress and egress somewhat difficult for ectomorphic individuals, but once situated inside, the interior exhibits the same dedicated attention to detail and functionality as the exterior styling. Interior Designer, Johnathon Norman pointed out that controls and switchgear are optimally placed for intuitive use, and the leather sports seats with Alcantara inserts are perfectly contoured and formed to provide excellent support for both boulevard cruising and race track exercises. The steering wheel shape and size feels just right.

2017 Acura NSX drive select controls

During the media drive program, a group of ten automotive journalists was treated to experiencing the new NSX in both real-world driving scenarios as well as in high-speed race track laps, and launch control demonstrations.

The day began with each journalist donning a helmet and rolling out of pit lane and onto the 1.8-mile, 9 turn course at the exclusive Thermal Club’s West Palm track about 30 minutes out of Palm Springs. Each journalist rotating through three cars similarly equipped for four laps each in a lead/follow format following none other than noted IndyCar racer Graham Rahal at increasing rates of speed and ultimately reaching a top track speed on the long back straight in excess of 130 mph. The track cars were Venetian Red metallic, Casino White Pearl and Nouvelle Blue metallic, each with a base price of $156,000, and each was outfitted with the carbon ceramic brake system, carbon fiber exterior sport package, carbon fiber roof, carbon fiber engine cover, carbon fiber interior sport package, Acura ELS Studio Audio & Technology Package with Sirius /XM, colored Brembo brake calipers, semi-aniline leather and Alcantara power sport seats, ultra premium “Andaro” paint process and destination charge, bringing the final total before sales tax and license to $200,700.

SUMMARY: The 2017 Acura NSX is performance that is precision crafted. It is incredibly smooth and wickedly fast. Every step of the way, the new NSX does everything that a supercar should, and does everything exceptionally well. On the track, the engineers that developed and perfected the final product served as ride-along instructors with each lap. I was one of the first out on the track, with Jason Widmer, Principal Engineer and Complete Vehicle Performance Leader riding shotgun; my next ride along companion was Nick Robinson, Lead Engineer, Vehicle Dynamics, followed by pro race driver and instructor Ryan Lewis. Jared Cox, Lead Engineer, Structure and Sound later supervised the Launch Control exercises.

2017 Acura NSX

Forward visibility is outstanding thanks to the super thin “A” pillar design while the rear side view is somewhat limited by the large flying “C” pillar. I discovered that the visors are minimally useful depending upon one’s height. Ingress and egress are much easier than with most other supercars. There’s plenty of headroom for those up to 6’5”, even with a helmet on, which can pose some difficulty when entering and exiting the vehicle.

The NSX expands the range of available driving experiences with its Integrated Dynamics System, whose 11 systems provide uniquely tuned experiences for each driving scenario, controlled through a circular knob in the center stack. The left two positions are Quiet and Sport, while the right two positions are Sport + and Track, which are all pretty self-explanatory. Sport+ provided the most enjoyment for challenging twisty roads, with the Track setting optimizing elevated performance level capabilities. The individual settings also deliver a wide range of tunable sound levels, with a 25dB range between Quiet and Track modes.

Pressing the center button of the IDS dial once places the 9DCT in automatic operation, while pressing it twice enters into manual mode, with control achieved via the wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Even in the automatic mode, it is possible to dive further toward a turn at full speed before braking, and it is possible to apply heavy throttle even before exiting the turn, going almost immediately to full throttle. Overcooking a corner, one can feel the car twitch, but it immediately recovers thanks to the AWD system. Braking is phenomenal with the ElectroServo System’s 6-piston Brembo calipers clamping onto the 14.5-inch front ceramic rotors, combined with regenerative braking, and with no indication of fade after hard use. Minimal oversteer may be encountered during trail braking, but again, the AWD comes to the rescue.