By on July 25, 2014


It’s been years now since Honda introduced a new generation Acura NSX as a concept and it looks like it may take even more time to reach production since the prototype that was recently spotted testing at the Nurburgring circuit has been pretty much destroyed, apparently the victim of an engine compartment fire.


The fire looks to have been unrelated to the electric drive that powers the all-wheel-drive hybrid supercar’s front wheels. Germany’s Motor Talk reports that the test drivers were able to exit the car without injury but that the NSX prototype appears to be a complete write-off. Though Honda would not comment, a photographer who witnessed the incident said that the fire started in the engine compartment and subsequently spread into the passenger compartment and trunk.

While fires involving the Chevy Volt, Fisker Karma and Tesla Model S have raised the issue of electric and hybrid vehicles’ fire safety (mostly out of proportion to the actual fire risk of EVs), the batteries that supply current to the two electric motors up front in the NSX were reportedly not involved in the fire.

The incident has incidentally has allowed us a look at the NSX’s construction. Composite body panels (which melted in the fire) are mounted to an aluminum unibody, not entirely unlike the Pontiac Fiero, thought the little mid-engine Pontiac had a superstructure made of steel.

More photos here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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53 Comments on “Acura NSX Prototype Flame Broiled on Burgerkingring...”

  • avatar


    If Tony Stark was so rich, he shoulda’ had a Bugatti Veyron: Super Sport.

  • avatar

    I remember reading that, if you hit the guardrail on the Nurburgring, you get charged for the cost of replacing it. I wonder how much they charge for extinguishing a fire?

    Edited to add: It’s interesting that they use a Dodge Ram (with a Hemi decal) as one of their safety vehicles. I didn’t know it was sold in Germany. That one looks like the ride height has been lowered compared to the ones they sell in the States.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe that’s anywhere. Hit a guardrail or telephone pole in VA and you get a bill for it.

      This poses the question though, which would be cheaper to hit, your fellow motorist or the infrastructure?

    • 0 avatar

      The Ram is a grey import. Dodge and Chrysler currently have no official sales channel in Germany. Even when they had dealers in the past, the Ram was never officially imported.

    • 0 avatar

      The cost of repairing the guardrails at the Nurburgring should you stuff your car into one is something crazy like 1000 EUR per meter – so it’s not just their cars that are expensive to fix.

      I saw a bunch of Rams running around Germany and Switzerland when I was there last month – I assumed that this was due to the Daimler tie up a while back.

  • avatar

    The Burgerkingring jokes are going to write themselves with this flame-broiled whopper of an incident.

  • avatar

    The Fiero was known to burst into flame on the early ones too!

    Really it’s funny that they’re having so much trouble. They SHOULD have kept making the prior NSX, as it was very good, very recognizable, desirable, practical, fuel efficient, and had a similar “make it forever” cult status as the Lotus Esprit. I feel they really screwed up when they dropped it without an immediate replacement. Not like they weren’t making money on the few they sold each year.

    • 0 avatar

      Y’all need to keep the Fiero out your mouths!

      Though, was any vehicle ever more appropriately named?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s worth recalling that in the late 1980’s when Honda and Toyota figured they had conquered US mainstream auto markets – small and mid-size sedans – they went looking for new directions. Toyota went with a full-tilt Supra and Honda went even further with the NSX. And both missed the market badly, as Americans went for SUV’s. It took years for Toyota and Honda to adjust their product lines (remember the Honda Passport – a rebadged Isuzu?) So dropping the first NSX (and the last Supra) was a retrenchment of sorts and an admission of the bad miscalculation both companies made in the late 80’s and 90’s. Both have been makers of bland appliances – sedans and SUV’s – ever since.

      • 0 avatar

        If they went “looking for new directions” with the Supra and NSX they did it solely as a prestige/leisure activity for a miniscule niche market. They certainly did not in the process abandon their positions already won in vastly more significant segments.

      • 0 avatar

        Interesting hypothesis, but I’m not convinced.

        The real growth in the market has been in crossovers, especially luxury crossovers. The most successful crossover has been the Lexus RX; the most successful 3-row luxury crossover has been the Acura MDX.

  • avatar

    So, does this set back its release another 10 yrs?

  • avatar

    “the test drivers were able to exit the car without injury”

    Good… now I can say I find this funny and appetizing. Crispy/charred on the outside is how I like my brats, bitte.

  • avatar

    Well, that’s why you test them.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the link to the German reports. That language makes the perfect mustard.

  • avatar

    Crazy Honda, they’ll do anything for a little publicity!

  • avatar

    Interesting to see the way panels burned. Looks like the binder burned away leaving the strips of carbon fiber.

    I guess ‘Ring testing pays off after all. A design defect in the car was revealed – dramatically – before being placed into future owners’ hands.

    That’s a really slick emergency vehicle they made out of a Ram crew cab.

  • avatar

    Looks like Honda pulled an Audi R8 V10 Prototype. Vtec just kicked in yo!

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Sing it Johnny…

    “I crashed out in a burning ring of fire….”

  • avatar

    Meh. Ferrari supercars have been doing this for years. First Lamborghini jumped on the bandwagon and now Honda.

    It’s not a flaw, it’s a “feature”.

  • avatar

    It sounds like “Burgerkingring” is on its way to become the new “two point slow.”

  • avatar

    how do you know you have a super car?

    It burns.

  • avatar

    I see a little Saturn Ion in those roof rails.

  • avatar

    I say its got to be better than burning cars after they have been bought by people a la GT3

  • avatar

    For the record – the only Volt fire was on a battery removed after crash testing, stored in a wooden cradle, and not de-energized properly. It took three weeks for the fractured cells to burn through. There hasn’t been a fire of a Volt in the wild not related to a failed charger (two incidents total IIRC) and one of those was home built, home wired, documents on the guys blog, don’t do this at home kids bad things can happen, charger.

    I believe Fisker can also make the same claim – with the two or three high profile fires being related to non-battery systems, and in the case of the Houston garage fire, a very suspicious charger fire from a family up their butts in debt.

    Overall plug-ins, series hybrids, and full electrics have performed very well in the fire department.

    The new NSX on the other hand has a 100% failure rate. ;-)

    • 0 avatar

      If I had to be involved in a car fire, I’d gladly take my chances with a battery electric over a gasoline powered car.

    • 0 avatar

      If the battery were removed before it burst into flame, why does the NHTSA’s Volt look like this:

      GM should do a better job of prepping their shills. Sure, lying is par for the course these days, but this is an automotive forum. Lying works best when your audience is ignorant of the subject matter at hand.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh honey – you again! Love you too.

        We’re both correct – if you’d bother to read the whole report and not cherry pick your point.,d.aWw&cad=rja

        In the report the car was crashed on May 12, 2011 (page 11 of 135 in the PDF).

        The car, parked with a still energized battery, not following post crash protocol for any electric vehicle, caught fire somewhere between June 3 to 6.

        The NHTSA then did a series of five tests on batteries, in wooden cradles (starting roughly on page 120 of 135) and documented each test. Several caught on fire, left energized, again, against protocol, weeks after the tests were started.

        The determination was a failed coolant line in the side impact test was the ultimate cause.

        You don’t need to be a schill or even an engineering graduate to understand that leaving an energized, Lithium-Ion battery, that could potentially have damage from a crash, with observed coolant system damage, is just plain dumb.

        The car sat for weeks – again, in the full report from the NTHSA – and then there were the engineered cradle fire.

        You can use this source also:

        Oh, and what did NHTSA do – they closed the cased.

        “Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. Generally, all vehicles have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash,” NHTSA concluded. The agency said it “remains unaware of any real-world crashes that have resulted in a battery-related fire involving the Chevy Volt or any other electric vehicle.”

        But you know Consumer Reports – GM has them in their back pocket too.

        Ahhh, and here I thought our love was summer fling, but it endures on and on.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m right. You’re wrong. There is no way you can dissemble yourself out of the box you built when you said, “For the record – the only Volt fire was on a battery removed after crash testing, stored in a wooden cradle, and not de-energized properly.”

          Only is a word with a definition that leaves no room for you to be right. Your response leaves no room for you to be honest.

          • 0 avatar

            Well wrap yourself in that warm blanket or rightness.

            I know it is very important to you.


    • 0 avatar

      ” NSX on the other hand has a 100% failure rate.”

      Gotta luv them statistics.

      100% of all German Acuras have an incendiary event! I read it on the internet!

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    If it weren’t for bad luck Acura wouldn’t have any luck at all.

  • avatar

    Whats weird is that this happened not long after I criticized the new NSX’s complexity vs the original.

  • avatar

    Like I said elsewhere, I’d much rather it burst into flames while in testing & development than in consumers’ hands. Honda products aren’t known for catching fire (unlike, in particular, Ferrari and Lamborghini), and maybe there’s a good reason for that…

    • 0 avatar

      Well there was that Honda Fit recall for fire and advisement to park outside.

      Honda did do this preventative recall to prevent self-immolating Honda Odysseys

      Then there is the Honda Accord and burning steering fluid

  • avatar
    Frankie the Hollywood Scum

    It looks like one of the engineers is carrying a laptop. I bet that data file is awesome.
    Engine state: flag fire high
    Engine state: flag melting high
    Engineer career state: flag meetings high

  • avatar

    The Internets are saying that two batteries “exploded” in the hybrid system in the middle of the car and it went downhill from there.

    Have no idea of the veracity, don’t shoot the messenger, your mileage may vary…

  • avatar

    Could it be that they’re using this prototype to test their power pack for next year’s McLaren?

  • avatar

    That is one hot super car.

  • avatar

    Considering Honda’s racing heritage, I was disappointed when they took the NSX away from our market. The NSX and the NSX-T was just about perfect in every aspect. I’m looking forward to the new one but I have a feeling it’s going to be too much like the others.

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