Review: Acura pours its best into NSX supercar

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THERMAL, Calif. — A car that you can drive to work on a Friday, then take to the raceway on a Saturday.

It's not a new concept in the auto business, but Honda has found a way to take it to the extreme.

Acura is about to start deliveries of its new NSX supercar. Its designers envisioned it as being as much at home at the drive-thru window at Wendy's as it is tearing through hairpin turns.

Well, not quite. That may be the theory, but clearly a $156,000 supercar is all about performance. Honda took speed so seriously that, at one point after the initial version had been unveiled in Detroit, the car was re-engineered to add horsepower.

The NSX is basically a rolling showcase of all the engineering prowess that Acura —  Honda's luxury brand —  could possibly pour into it. It's a  follow-up to the original, sold from 1991 to 2005, that shook up the auto world with a unique premise: the notion that a supercar could be made more reliable and usable every day than the beauties that Italy was dishing out.

Unlike the past NSX, the new one is a hybrid, using the battery power to enhance torque and acceleration. It has the latest twin-turbocharged V-6 engine coupled to a nine-speed dual clutch transmission. The car has Acura's "super-handling all-wheel-drive" system that, among other things, adds power in the wheels in a way that makes cornering tighter and faster.

The result is what Acura hopes will be viewed as a wondercar, a NSX that will present the best of Acura and raise interest in the brand, even if it's monster price tag means Acura doesn't sell many.

NSX "is exactly the representation of what we're trying to do," says Acura's U.S. brand chief, Jon Ikeda.

I spent most of a day in the Acura at a private raceway here and driving around Palm Springs, an oasis for the wealthy where a supercar is right at home. On the track, the horsepower and handling stood out. And the sound.

The 573-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine, in combination with three electric motors, put on its greatest display in flat-out acceleration. Like some other cars, the NSX has a feature called "launch control." In "track model," you press and hold the brake, push the accelerator to the floor, then let go of the brake for a push-you-back-in-seat experience.

The inescapable conclusion: It's fast. Just how fast, Acura hasn't been saying -- although it has been targeting the Audi R8 V10 and Ferrari 458 as competitors. When it comes to dishing out performance numbers, about all Acura is saying is that the top speed pegs at 191 miles per hour.

On the track, the car indeed held a tighter inside track on sharp curves. When at one point the wheels started losing their grip in a turn — my fault — the car seemed guide me out of trouble as soon as I let up on the gas. Crisis averted.

In street driving, the NSX becomes a pussycat. Performance is there if you need it, but when you don't, you just cruise around town in a car that looks completely out of place — a sleek, low, supercar among the ordinary.

Part of the attraction of NSX is the roar of the engine, tuned to perfection and literally piped into the cabin. It's left up to the driver to decide how much the world should hear. The car has four settings: track, sport plus, sport and one called "quiet." The quiet setting reduces noise both in the cabin and outside, the premise being that you'll want to sneak out of your neighborhood in the morning on the way to work. There's a 25-decibel span between quiet and track mode.

Just be clear: With those race-car looks, there's no sneaking around unnoticed in the new NSX.

What Stands Out

Looks: Looks as if it belongs on the raceway starting line.

Handling: Tight in the curves.

Price: Sky-high.

2017 Acura NSX

What? The second-generation two-seat supercar from Honda's Acura division.

When? Production starts this month.

Where? Built in Marysville, Ohio.

How much? Prices start at $156,000 plus $1,800 in delivery charges

What makes it go? A 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine plus electric motors teamed with a nine-speed transmission.

How big? 14.6 feet long.

Overall: A nice addition to any billionaire's garage.
Source: [http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/04/14/review-acura-pours-its-best-into-nsx-supercar/83019680/]
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