The Acura NSX has been much-anticipated since its introduction at the North American International Auto Show earlier this year. Now, the carmaker has released technical details about the hybrid sports car, including its all-wheel drive platform and planned production for the 2017 model year.
The Acura New Sports eXperience (NSX) was first introduced 25 years ago as a supercar from Honda’s premium brand. At that time, the NSX was a halo car – a top-shelf vehicle whose purpose is largely to promote the company’s excellence. At the time, the NSX was considered a very forward-looking vehicle and won acclaim for its design, engineering, and performance. Today, Acura is aiming for the same goal with the 2017 NSX.
Acura says that four fundamentals drive the new NSX supercar: exterior design and airflow management; interior human-centric design; body form engineering and lightweight materials; and chassis plus drivetrain performance.
The 2017 NSX will be assembled at the new Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio. Honda, Acura’s parent company, already builds several models in Ohio-based facilities. Each NSX will be constructed by 70 manufacturing technicians at the plant, each employed in various aspects of the car’s build, including several constituent parts.
Frame, chassis and body
The build for the 2017 Acura NSX includes several components of the company’s "Zero Delay Technologies." This begins with the car’s framing, which utilizes a space frame design that improves torsional rigidity through multiple weld points. Integral to that rigidity is the body framing design, which adds more torsional and yaw control.
Suspension points are made with precision machined castings using the first automotive application of ablation casting technology. This aids attachment point strength while keeping weight at a minimum.
Acura says that the "Zero Delay" in this design refers to the feedback the driver feels at the wheel. As the release puts it: "Unparalleled platform rigidity transmits the full feeling of the Power Unit, suspension, and steering directly to the driver with zero delay."
Framing and bodywork on the Acura NSX make extensive use of aluminum. Carbon fiber is also used in several components of the Acura’s body, including the deck lid (trunk) and an optional roof panel.
The powertrain in the 2017 Acura NSX (called a "Sport Hybrid Power Unit") consists of a twin-turbocharged V6, a 9-speed dual clutch automated transmission, three electric motor/generators, and a battery pack. This unique drivetrain powers all four wheels, with the engine and transmission mounted midships to power the rear wheels and the twin motors (one powering each wheel) at the front axle. A third electric motor resides on the rear axle for additional power boosting and brake force regeneration. This provides a weight distribution of 42 percent up front and 58 percent at rear.
The total power output for the NSX is 573 horsepower (427 kW), 500 hp of which comes from the engine.
The twin-turbo V6 displaces 3.5 liters and is set at a wide 75-degree angle to lower its center of gravity. Both direct and port injection are used, along with Variable Timing Control, to deliver precision combustion control through its RPM band. The turbochargers include electronic wastegate control, lightening the turbos’ weights with a single-scroll design and without losing performance. Total engine output is 500 horsepower between 6,500 and 7,500 rpm, 406 pound-feet of torque (550 Nm) between 2,000 and 6,000 rpm. Compression for the 24-valve, chain-timed engine is 10.0:1. A dual catalytic system runs on a dual exhaust.
The transmission is coupled to the engine via an electric motor. That motor outputs 47 horsepower (35 kW) and 109 lb-ft (148 Nm) of torque. It adds power to the transmission’s input, but not beyond the engine’s total output. It also acts as a generator during transmission braking. The transmission itself is a nine-speed dual clutch automatic with descending gear ratios in a 2.0 torque bias ratio (driving) and a 2.6 bias when coasting.
At the front wheels is a completely independent twin motor system for driving the front axles. These produce 36 horsepower (27 kW) and 54 lb-ft (73 Nm) each for a total of 72 hp (54 kW) and 108 lb-ft (146 Nm). The power output of this Twin Motor Unit is electronically controlled by the vehicle’s computer (electronic control module, ECM). In addition, each of the motors is controlled individually to provide improved yaw support in corners as well as traction control when required. The front motors are capable of helping power the car at speeds up to 124 mph (200 km/h).
The battery pack in the 2017 NSX is located below the center console to optimize weight distribution, lowering the center of gravity for the car. Acura has given no information on the batteries beyond their lithium-ion chemistry. The NSX is capable of driving a low speeds for short distances on battery power alone without engaging the engine.
2017 model year
The 2017 Acura NSX will be entering showrooms in time for the 2017 model year. Exact production dates, expected fuel economy numbers, pricing (expected to come in at around US$170K) and other details will be released at a later date.