2019 BMW i8 Roadster vs. 2019 Acura NSX: Two sources of power …
This week: The 2019 Acura NSX.
Price: $171,600 as tested. (Starts at $157,500. $10,600 for ceramic brakes. $3,000 for rear spoiler.)
Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the “gut-punching acceleration, vertigo-inducing cornering, eye-catching styling,” but not the “cut-rate interior finishings, heart-stopping price, storage shortage.”
Marketer’s pitch: “The legend continues."
Reality: When blurring the scenery is paramount.
Catching up: Last week we took out the BMW i8 and found it a joyful adventure. Will the Acura NSX measure up?
What’s new: First back on the track in 2017, Acura returns to this 1990 nameplate from the world’s first all-aluminum exotic car in this latest incarnation of the two-seater supercar.
Up to speed: The NSX features a 500-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a direct-drive supercar electric motor. It gets to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, according to Car and Driver, giving this vehicle a fiery demeanor. Passengers will get the ride of their lives in this McLaren fighter.
Acura actually calls it a “bespoke twin-turbo,” which means we should never, ever buy another car from Honda again ever.
On the curves: All four wheels are powered with the tip-top version of the company’s awesome super-handling all-wheel drive. The NSX holds on tight and will allow trips around country roads to turn into the fastest moves you’ve ever made.
But take it out on the highway, and the little two-seater loses its composure. Road seams are rough, and a half-hour ride is plenty. This baby is built for the racetrack and would be best kept there.
Quiet mode does turn the exhaust sound down a bit, but it doesn’t really dampen the suspension or make the ride much smoother. Sport+ is a whole lot of fun.
You can listen to the car breathe in almost every mode. That’s fun. Right behind your head.
On the bumps: The McLaren can raise the car for low-speed maneuvers. The NSX would do well to have a similar option, as a loud thunk accompanied every exit from the Sturgis Family’s suburban driveway.
Shifty: Acura is keeping its button-style transmission, so you better like it. The D button toggles between Drive and Shift mode, and all shifting happens through the steering-wheel paddles.
The 9-speed gearbox functioned well throughout three days of testing.
Friends and stuff: It’s tight in the NSX, even by two-seater standards. The passenger compartment is cramped, with the engine rumbling right behind the Driver’s Seat, and storage space behind the engine is minimal.
While the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat and I managed to stuff two weeks’ worth of luggage into a McLaren — hilariously broken down into little bitty spaces around the car — that would not be possible the NSX.
Tall drivers may never find a way to live with the NSX. And entry-exit is difficult, even for us normal-sized guys. The normal swing-out doors need a lot of space to allow for the least amount of discomfort.
Tough view: I didn’t expect the NSX to be easy to live with, but I didn’t expect it to be so hard. The supercar most reminded me of an Alfa Romeo Spider 4C, with its seats so low to the road that driving through rolling hills meant a surprise behind the next hump. The Driver’s Seat on the test model did not raise or lower.
And while I was delighted to enjoy the NSX on some of the sunniest days Southeastern Pennsylvania has experienced recently, the raked windshield captured a great deal of glare from the dashboard. I kept seeing the honeycomb dashboard reflected in the view ahead. Visibility issues are not a good thing in a race car.
Also, careful when changing lanes to the right. It’s easy for another car to get lost in the NSX’s big corner.
Play some tunes: The NSX has not received the touchpad stereo treatment that’s come to the Acura RDX crossover. Everything happens through the touchscreen, including volume, and that’s less than ideal as well. The touchscreen works adequately, but the buttons are small and fussy for on-the-fly changes. Sirius XM costs $500. You can’t just throw that in, Acura?
Sound from the unit was top notch, an A.
Night shift: The low headlights combined with the infotainment screen that I could never dim adequately makes nighttime driving an adventure.
Fuel economy: I averaged about 18 mpg in an adrenaline-filled three days of testing. Feed the NSX at least 91 octane; 93 is recommended.
Where it’s built: Marysville, Ohio.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the NSX reliability to be a 3 out of 5.