It’s a classic good news/bad news scenario: Acura set to introduce a special edition of its NSX at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance later this month. Unfortunately, the limited-edition NSX Type-S will mark the end of the run for the hybrid supercar.
These are tough times for sedans, coupes and sports cars, with millions of American motorists – and more and more abroad – switching to SUVs and CUVs. Just yesterday, Toyota announced it will pull the plug on its flagship Avalon sedan. Now, Acura is giving the NSX a final hurrah. But if it has to go, the sports car is going to do so in a blaze of glory.
The Type-S will deliver “an even higher performance envelope and a more emotional driving experience,” Acura said in a statement. Specs have yet to be released but that would strongly suggest this limited-edition will deliver more than the 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of torque the “base” Acura NSX currently makes.
Limited run – most bound for the U.S.
Acura is billing the Type-S as a “collectible,” in line with the special NSX Zanardi it produced back in 1999, shortly before it killed off the original version of the sports car.
A total of 350 Type-S models will be produced, 300 of them earmarked for the U.S., Acura announced. If you’re interested, the company said, “The limited run supercar will be available for customer orders beginning August 12 at Acura.com/NSX.”
Sales of the current-generation NSX never quite met initial expectations, and have faded into insignificance since its return in mid-2016. American motorists purchased just 138 in 2020, with dealers delivering a mere 16 this past June. But it was, nonetheless, a significant and influential product.
The original 1990 model was the first Japanese supercar and achieved a number of breakthroughs, starting with its lightweight aluminum body. Production was halted in 2005 and Acura spent a decade trying to figure out how to bring NSX back to market. It tinkered with a variety of different powertrain alternatives before settling in on a hybrid system pairing a twin-turbocharged V-6 with three electric motors, one in back, the others driving the front-wheel.
The internal combustion system provided a peak 500 horsepower, the front motors 34 hp each. The back motor added another 47 ponies. (And don’t try to do the math; the V-6 and the electric motors hit peak hp and torque at different RPMs.) That was enough to launch the NSX from 0-60 in 2.7 seconds, with a top speed of 191 mph.
As tough as it was on the street, the NSX was also a force to be reckoned with on the track, Acura’s statement noting that, “The second-generation NSX has also dominated on the racetrack, with the NSX GT3 Evo winning the 2019 and 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship titles in the GTD class, and the 2019 Super GT driver’s and manufacturer’s championships in the GT300 class in Japan. NSX also currently holds the Hybrid record in the Time Attack 1 division of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, set in 2020 by James Robinson, and the production vehicle record at the Grand Prix of Long Beach street circuit, set in 2019 by Peter Cunningham.”
While the NSX may be going away, its influence will continue to be felt. A less aggressive version of its Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive, or SH-AWD, system appears on several products, including the MDX. And both Acura and its mainstream sibling, Honda, have changed their approach to using hybrid power. Where the emphasis was solely on fuel economy in the days of the original Honda Insight, more of their products now use battery assistance to enhance performance — the Honda CR-V Hybrid the most powerful version of that compact CUV.
An all-electric future
Is there a future for the NSX? Could it yet again rise from the dead? The automaker leaves us speculating it isn’t ready to walk away from the legendary badge.
“Acura is a performance brand, a company of enthusiasts, and we will continue moving forward, actively investigating what the next generation of sports cars should be in an electrified era.” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura brand officer.
Considering what we’re seeing from brands as diverse as Dodge, Tesla and Ferrari, an all-electric Acura NSX could, indeed, be something to watch out for.