2017 Acura NSX Brings Advanced Performance And Technology To The Supercar Party

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2017 Honda NSX – full technical rundown on Honda’s AWD twin-turbocharged 573 hp hybrid supercar.

As the successor to the legendary mid-engined supercar that put Ferrari on notice, it has been through a number of conceptual stages – first as a front-engined, V10-powered GT car and then back to its mid-engined roots in a variety of iterations – a prototype burnt to the ground during testing at the Nurburgring and its final production date was recently pushed back by three months due to quality concerns at its new American-based production facility.Honda has told Auto Express it is evaluating plans to bring an all-electric sports car to the global market, based on the technology it used in a CR-Z racer. But the wait is almost over as Honda has, at last, revealed its full specifications ahead of its expected arrival in Australian showrooms late next year.

Widely regarded as one of the few seminal sports cars of the 90s, the original NSX set the bar for levels of everyday usability and heart-thumping performance all wrapped up in, arguably, one of the most iconic automotive shapes. 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. Honda has developed a road-going prototype of the CR-Z, which uses four electric motors – one housed on each wheel – and a 16kwh lithium-ion battery.

And finally, after four years of development and the show-car circuit, the long-awaited Acura NSX from Honda, born of the original and much-loved NSX from 1990 to 2005, is back. Following in the footsteps of its ancestor, the 2017 Honda NSX – “New Sports eXperience” – was developed with ease of use, reliability and, of course, performance in mind. Mounted midship is a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-litre V-6; an electric motor is mounted on the driveshaft, with it all going through a dual-clutch nine-speed gearbox. While the finished NSX may look largely unchanged from the concept, beneath the surface Honda essentially decided to start from scratch half way through the development process.

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. Because each wheel is powered individually, the system can vector torque right to left and front to back – although bosses told us it isn’t possible to send 100 per cent power to either end. Elsewhere, the front floor panels are constructed out of carbon-fibre while an all-new (and world’s first in the automotive industry) material application technology, dubbed “ablation” casting, was employed to help maintain the levels of energy absorption in key areas for crash tests and at the same time, ensure the levels of desired structural rigidity. So, what Honda eventually came up with – as you probably know by know – is a 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo supercar that calls upon three electric motors to supplement power. Another unique feature of the prototype over other EVs is Honda’s Precision All-Wheel Steer system, which allows the rear wheels to turn up to angles of three degrees to aid handling and agility.

The brakes are electrically operated, and pressure can be adjusted depending on the style of driving, from softer for around town, to harder for more aggressive driving. Ablation casting technology is used in the creation of six joining members or “nodes” – two upper and two lower nodes in the front frame with two rear nodes.

Two electric motors bolted onto the front axle develop 73Nm of torque a piece, while a third motor nestles between the V6 engine and a nine-speed dual clutch gearbox producing a further 143Nm of torque. No information has been given on when the car might make production, but with more and more car makers eyeing up all-electric sports cars, there’s no time like the present.

The internal combustion engine alone, which features a dry-sump lubrication system, produces 375kW and 500Nm, with the rear-mounted electric motor adding another 148Nm and each of the front motors providing 73Nm for a total output of 427kW and 646Nm. Said nodes serve as an “ultra-rigid suspension mounting point.” Aside from that, the formation of the A-pillar is also done via another world’s first procedure – a “3D bent and quenched” method allows the pillar to be bent robotically while being tempered with water jets. 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. Honda isn’t saying yet how fast the NSX can sprint to 100km/h, but admits it can at least match – and potentially beat – the best in its class, meaning it has the ability to run to triple figures in around 3.0 seconds flat.

While two laps on the banked oval at Honda’s Tochigi Proving Ground is sadly too short to properly get up to speed on how the NSX performs, it is good enough to display the brutal-yet-controlled torque from the AWD car – at least up to 180 km/h, to which the tests cars were limited. Providing the main source of propulsion is a bespoke mid-mounted 3.5 litre DOHC twin-turbocharged petrol V6 engine with dry sump lubrication – the mill itself pumps out a total of 500 hp at 7,500 rpm and 550 Nm of torque from 2,000-6,000 rpm. To give you some context, that’s 80kg heavier than an AMG GT S, 170kg more than an Audi R8 V10 Plus and frankly ridiculous 412kg bulkier than the carbon-tubbed McLaren 570S.

It has confirmed though that the car has been designed as an “everyday supercar” with easily accessible performance thanks to its class-leading centre of gravity – in part from its lithium-ion battery being tucked between the driver and the engine and the powertrain control unit sitting in the centre tunnel – as well as benchmark torsional rigidity from its spaceframe structure which features world-first construction techniques and tips the scales at 1725kg. 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. Its angular body isn’t as gorgeously classical as the Ferrari 488, as immediately recognisable as the Porsche 911, or as futuristic as the i8, but it is no less dramatic in its own way with great proportions and some neat details, particularly from the rear with its low-mounted exhaust housed within the F1-style diffuser. The NSX has a lot of expectations to live up to, considering its first iteration was such a success, but this brief drive shows the new one has more than plenty of promise to deliver.

When trail-braking into a corner, the TMU system augments retardation by working with the mechanical brakes while the Direct Yaw Control system serves up “immediate turn-in performance”, therefore allowing drivers to keep their eyes towards the apex. 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. Pressing the anodised starter button beside the steering wheel, the NSX fires into life with a rush of revs from the V6 before it quickly settles to a muted and smooth idle speed. And then it cuts out… In its default driving mode (there’s also EV, Sport+ and Track), it will move away gently under electric power alone with the engine kicking in when necessary. Elsewhere, the NSX is equipped as standard with Y-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels in front with 20-inch units at the rear – wrapped in 245/35 and 305/30 Continental ContiSport Contact 5 tyres, respectively.

Peak torque arrives at only 2,000rpm and begins to tail off around 4,000rpm later, so the pick up is almost immediate with the electric motors providing boost while the turbos spool up. But with such little time behind the wheel, there’s no point wasting it so I flick the rotary dial to Sport+ – which taps into the engine’s full spread of performance with a sharper throttle map and louder exhaust note, unleashes more battery power, stiffens the magnetic dampers and quickens steering response – and stomp on the loud pedal to see how it goes. Behind the front wheels, six-piston calipers that clamp down on 14.5-inch ventilated discs are to be found while the rear setup employs four-piston calipers with 14-inch ventilated discs. Steering wheel mounted paddles give you access to the nine ratios, and at times we did find ourselves having to glance down at the digital readout to see what gear we were in given the sheer amount of them. It certainly feels remarkably refined in the way the petrol and electric motors are integrated together, like it’s one big power unit creating an endless surge of thrust.

The EPS system features a variable gear ratio that allows for increased stability with no lock applied – off center, the gear ratio speeds up for improved turn-in and manoeuvrability. And we can’t give a definitive outlook of its handling as our preview drive didn’t involve any serious cornering, but our initial impression was that the steering is razor sharp with quick reactions and good feel through the well-positioned, squared-off steering wheel. The suspension also feels well sorted with good high-speed stability, but we’ll reserve final judgements until we get to experience it in a more demanding environment.

In Sport mode, the 4,000 rpm limit is removed while the Intake Sound Control and the Active Exhaust Valve systems are activated – the latter allowing for a more raucous exhaust note. The onboard electronics (the EPS, electric motors and Direct Yaw Control) are all tuned for maximum performance in this mode – a yellow “con-trail” appears on the TFT rev counter while the Simple Sports Interface is now bathed in a red glow. Meant for circuit work, Track mode allows for the “most aggressive settings and parameters to deliver the fastest and most consistent lap times possible.” The lithium-ion battery is also prompted to maintain a consistent level of torque output to ensure that there is no letup in power. 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.

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