A quarter century after the original Japanese supercar burst onto the scene – and nearly four years after Acura announced plans to bring it back to market – we’re finally getting a look at the tech specs for the 2017 NSX.
Powered by an unusual, three-motor hybrid drivetrain and using exotic materials like carbon fiber to minimize its weight, the all-new Acura NSX will match the performance of some of the world’s fastest, street-legal cars, launching from 0 to 60 in less than three seconds, according to initial reports.
“The overarching concept for the design and development of this next-generation NSX was the idea of a ‘human-centered supercar,’ one that places the driver at the center of its mission in each and every element of its design and dynamic performance,” Acura explains in a presentation on the new two-seater.
The heart of the NSX is the most advanced hybrid system ever used in a Honda or Acura product – though it has some similarities to the Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive powertrain offered in the MDX sport-utility vehicle. There are three separate electric motors: one driving each of the front wheels, another paired with the mid-rear-mounted V-6 engine.
That twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 itself produces 500 horsepower and 406 pound-ft of torque, the rear motor adding 47-hp and 109 lb-ft of torque. Each of the front motors kicks in another 36 ponies and 54 lb-ft. In the unusual math of battery technology, the combined package can deliver a peak 573-horsepower.
The front motors directly drive each wheel, the rear package powers the back wheels through a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission.
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Acura isn’t offering much in the way of information on the lithium-ion battery pack, but don’t expect much in the way of electric-only range. Nor is the maker saying much about mileage, other than to suggest the 2017 Acura NSX will deliver, “an excellent balance of high power, torque, fuel economy, and emissions.”
The three-motor layout has several different advantages. It should make it easier to deliver all that power to the pavement, especially in inclement weather where it will create a system some call “through-the-road all-wheel-drive,” since there’s no driveshaft linking the front and rear axles.
Meanwhile, the NSX will boast one of the more elegant approaches to torque vectoring, a concept that helps steer a car through a corner by increasing torque to the outer wheel. Unlike a mechanical system, it won’t need to apply the brakes on the inner wheel. Instead, it will adjust the amount of power going to each of the front wheels, as needed.
The rear wheels of the NSX also will turn slightly, offering better control at both low and high speeds.
The 2017 Acura NSX picks up just the most subtle hints of the original supercar’s design. But it returns to the super-light aluminum spaceframe chassis concept, albeit taking advantage of a number of new developments in material technologies. For one thing, it adopts a concept called ablation casting to improve the performance of the front end in a crash.
Used for the first time in an automobile, “The ablation casting process allows for the fine-tuning of both the cast part’s shape, as well as the material properties of the castings in the energy-absorbing areas of the vehicle, while minimizing weight in the form of a hollow part with optimized wall thickness.”
In other areas, advanced high-strength steel is used for crash rigidity. The floorboards, meanwhile, are made of carbon fiber, and Acura NSX buyers will be offered an optional carbon fiber roof that will further reduce total mass and drop the car’s already low center of gravity.
All told, the new NSX weighs in at just 3,803 pounds in its base configuration.
The sleek design of the NSX required extensive use of computational fluid dynamics, as well as plenty of time in the wind tunnel. The challenge was not just delivering a good looking sports car but balancing three potentially conflicting factors. The new NSX had to provide plenty of air for the engine to breathe while also cooling the engine and brakes; it needed to reduce overall wind drag; but it also had to deliver plenty of downforce to keep the supercar firmly planted at high speeds.
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The 2017 Acura NSX can be switched into four different driving modes, including Sport, Sport+, Track. Each adjusts a variety of different settings to enhance performance. In Quiet Mode, however, the two-seater will remain in electric-only mode at low speeds as long as there’s enough charge in the battery. And fitting the name, it will be about 25 decibels quieter than when operating in a performance mode.
The new 2017 Acura NSX is expected to start at around $150,000 when it reaches showrooms next spring. The debut was original scheduled for late this year but postponed for a few final tweaks, including the addition of a second turbocharger, meant to enhance performance.
The new supercar will be produced at a special facility set up by Acura’s parent, Honda, alongside its main U.S. assembly plant in Marysville, Ohio.
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