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.