First Drive: Updated 2019 Acura NSX Proves Itself At The Track

You’d be hard pressed to tell the 2019 Acura NSX apart from its predecessor, but the company has made a number of updates that promise to make the car an even more compelling rival to the Audi R8 and McLaren 570S.

While the exterior styling changes will likely go unnoticed by many, the 2019 NSX is distinguished by a new body color grille and gloss black accents that replace the previous matte black flourishes. Another new addition for 2019 is a Thermal Orange paint job which appears to be a hit with consumers. It’s so popular that nearly every NSX we saw being built at the company’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio featured the bright orange bodywork.

The orange theme can be echoed on the optional carbon ceramic brakes which are now available with orange calipers. Likewise, the standard iron brakes are now offered with red calipers.

More standard features for your buck

The interior has also been updated for 2019 as customers can order a new Indigo Blue option which features a mix of semi-aniline leather and Alcantara upholstery. Buyers can also select a new red interior which features full semi-aniline leather without Alcantara.

The new colors won’t appeal to everyone, but Acura has made several previous options standard equipment. Among the newly standard features are four-way power sport seats, aluminum pedals and front / rear proximity sensors.  They are joined by a navigation system and a premium audio system.

Despite featuring an additional $4,700 in previously optional equipment, the price of the 2019 NSX only climbs by $1,500 to $157,500, excluding a destination charge of $1,800. That’s certainly expensive, but Acura executives were quick to point out of the NSX is more affordable than its key competitors. As they noted, the 2018 Audi R8 starts at $164,900 while the McLaren 570S begins at $188,600.

Carefully selected upgrades

Besides styling changes, Acura focused on improving performance. As a result, the car has been equipped with new Continental SportContact 6 tires which were developed exclusively for the model. They replace the previous ContiSportContact 5P tires and feature a revised tread pattern and a different rubber compound for improved handling performance in all conditions.

The tires aren’t the only change as the revamped NSX features larger front and rear stabilizer bars that are 26 percent stiffer up front and 19 percent stiffer at the rear. Engineers also increased the stiffness of the rear toe link bushings by 21 percent and rear hub rigidity by six percent.

The chassis modifications are joined by software changes to an assortment of different systems including the Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, electric power steering system and active dampers. Thanks to all of these performance tweaks, Acura claims that the NSX’s “balance, playfulness and controllability has improved, allowing the driver to more precisely modulate understeer and oversteer with subtle throttle inputs.” The new model is also a better performer, as it has lapped the Suzuka Circuit nearly two seconds faster than its predecessor.

Deceptively fast and lots of fun

With the updates out of the way, let’s focus on what really matters: driving the NSX. During repeated laps at the Transportation Research Center, it always felt stable and secure thanks to its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system which features torque vectoring and electric motors that assist with acceleration, braking and cornering.

Of course, handling is only part of the NSX package as the car’s steering is as responsive and direct as you’d expect in a performance car that costs north of $150,000. The steering wheel is also an excellent partner as it’s relatively compact and features a flat bottom which helps drivers deal with back to back corners on the track.

The NSX is truly a stellar athlete and that’s impressive as the car has been designed to appeal to everyone from track-day novices to experienced drivers. I’m admittedly in the former category, but the NSX is pretty rewarding and you’ll become more confident with the car and its abilities after each lap.

The NSX’s dual personality can also seen in the driving experience. Despite being perfectly capable on the track, the car is remarkably comfortable and features a stylish cabin which is nicely laid out.

The song remains the same

While the 2019 NSX features an assortment of performance changes, the car’s hybrid powertrain carries over. It consists of a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 500 hp (372 kW / 506 PS) and 406 lb-ft (549 Nm) of torque. It is backed up by a Twin Motor Unit which features two electric motors at the front, each contributing 36 hp (26 kW / 36 PS) and 54 lb-ft (73 Nm) of torque. It also has a third electric motor/generator, located between the engine and the nine-speed dual-clutch transmission, which produces 47 hp (35 kW / 47 PS) and 109 lb-ft (147 Nm) of torque.

All told, the NSX has a combined output of 573 hp (427 kW / 580 PS) and 476 lb-ft (644 Nm) of torque. This enables the model to rocket from 0-60 mph (0-96 km) in 2.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 191 mph (307 km/h).

While the hybrid powertrain doesn’t sound flashy in a segment dominated by models with V8s and V10s, don’t let the cylinder count fool you. The NSX hits 60 mph (96 km/h) faster than the R8 and 570S, although its top speed is lower than the competition. Not that you’ll be able to top 191 mph (307 km/h) that many times anyway…

Goes like stink, handles incredibly

On the track, power is readily available and it wasn’t hard to hit speeds in excess of 110 mph (177 km/h) on the straightaways of the Transportation Research Center’s dynamic handling course. The car’s performance can also be demonstrated by using launch control. Once the function is selected, simply hold the brake and floor the gas. When you let off the brake, the acceleration is shocking and almost feels like a punch to the gut.

Of course, shedding excess speed is pretty important on the track so the NSX comes standard with iron discs that measure 14.5 inches (368 mm) up front and 14.2 inches (360 mm) out back. Customers can also order a carbon ceramic braking package which has slightly larger front discs that measure 15 inches (381 mm). The latter have plenty of stopping power and showed no signs of fading after a long day of use and abuse by journalists.

To sum it all up…

The NSX is truly an impressive car, even though it might not be as prestigious as some of its competitors. It’s also promising that Acura is updating the model so early into its lifecycle. This shows the company is committed to the making the NSX better, even though it’s a halo car that sells in relatively small numbers.

more photos...

Picture credits: Acura and Mike Gauthier for Carscoops

  • Dude

    Aaahhhhh I want it so bad

  • botornot387

    the front end looks like a supersized Accord. Although executives are quick to point out it undercuts the 570s, it doesn’t have anywhere near the emotional appeal or charisma of the British car. Priced too high, on a design that is now almost 9 or 10 years old, with a surplus of models remaining on lots does not bode well for this model.

    • Seats & a steering wheel

      I’m a big fan of the 570 S, but from a visual stand point, I don’t see it as any more spectacular than the NSX. In fact I’d argue that the NSX has more visual gravitas. As for a supersized Accord front end, there is no doubt there is a Honda family resemblance, but it looks nothing like an Accord! There is no doubt it is very expensive, but you get a lot of car for the money with many comparing it to a cut price 918 or La Ferrari. People are swayed by the badge of a car be it McLaren, Ferrari or Lambo..but that does not make them better. Over a long term the NSX will very likely be the best out of the lot.

  • Seats & a steering wheel

    NSX is probably the most underrated car on sale today. From a visual stand point, the subtle front end changes and new thermal orange paint work make a massive difference to the look of the car. The title photo looks epic. The fact that people will shy away from the Acura/Honda badge and opt for traditional European rivals will assure this car’s rarity and exclusivity..which IMO is another positive..think Lexus instant modern classic that is now one of the most revered Supercars. 7 or 8 years back it was maligned for its price and Lexus badge..

  • sidewaysspin

    Honda should learn with Porsche, they know how to market their vehicles to appear desirable, making people forget they’re just souped up Volkswagens.

    • anonymous

      Mention one other car that uses 911’s flat-six in Volkswagen’s list. I’ll wait.

      • ksegg

        Ding ding ding, NONE. But let the haters spew their fake news.

    • Mynameis Taylor

      um… Porsche is NOT a Volkswagen

  • Matt

    Those floor mats don’t belong in a supercar.

  • john1168

    The more I see this car, the more I like it. I still think it’s waaayy over engineered with the complicated hybrid setup it has but I do think it looks good. I too think it’s an underrated car.

  • SteersUright

    Stunning car. That said, why not offering fully customizable paint and interior colors like most expect in this price range? The red and blue are certainly ok, but I can imagine so many nice colors and its definitely in the, money-is-not-really-an-object price range.

    • Rani

      It’s most likely to keep it price-competitive. That said the car sounds excellent.

  • Mynameis Taylor

    I’m not going to say that the car is ugly… because that’s subjective. But there’s a bit of cheesiness to this car. It seems to lack sophistication and panache with is expected with it’s price tag. I think the interior of this car is a bit over designed, and the front end seems so low brow

  • Astonman

    The way this is written, “It is backed up by a Twin Motor Unit which features two electric motors at the front, each contributing 36 hp (26 kW / 36 PS) and 54 lb-ft (73 Nm) of torque. It also has a third electric motor/generator, located between the engine and the nine-speed dual-clutch transmission, which produces 47 hp” I assumed since each of the two electric motors contribute 36 hp, that would mean it gives 72hp total and plus the 47 hp from the third motor, then shouldn’t the total hp be 619 and not 573?

    • john1168

      I hear what you’re saying. I brought up the same argument a while ago. The response I got was the 573 was not the grand total of everything together but the max the software would give you considering everything together. In other words, if you were at a stand still and you floored the pedal, the gas engine would start in the lower part of the power band and the electric motors would be at or close to max power but as the gas engine approached its max power, the electric motors would back off. So the electric motors are used for their torque off the line and to “fill in” gaps in the power band of the gas engine…… I think….. 🙂 LOL I hope this helps and that I got it right.

      • Astonman

        It makes sense. But why even say a top number for those motors? That’s like saying my ICE engine has 800 horses but can only use 700. You know what i mean?

        • john1168

          Yeah I do.

  • Bo Hanan
  • ksegg

    It needs to have the “NEW SUPRA” camo on.

  • Astonman

    Thanks Dustin. I ranted on the john1168’s reply so I’ll save you the repeat;)

  • botornot387

    Styling may be suggestive, but to me the headlights are too in sync with the new Accord. Performance is behind it’s main rivals. And I give a hoot, and thats all that matters in my opinion, since it looks outdated cause its already been previewed to the public nearly a decade ago. I understand your a fanboy, but not everyone is. This was a golden opportunity for Acura, and I would assume even Acura is scratching their heads respectively when you look at the sales charts.

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