Acura's Shrinking Supercar Adds Goodies for 2019

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Can we really call the Acura NSX a supercar? Some might disagree. It’s certainly not a super seller, anyway, but not for a lack of trying on Acura’s part to get motoring enthusiasts interested in the concept of a two-seater sport hybrid.

For 2019, the second-generation NSX sees its first significant upgrades after awakening from its 11-year slumber in 2016. Improved handling is the goal here, but renewed consumer interest can’t be far behind on the wish list.

Debuting during Monterey Car Week, the NSX returns for 2019 with the same powertrain — a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 coupled to a nine speed-dual clutch automatic. Three electric motors provide additional populsion. All told, the NSX generates the same 573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque found in previous versions, metered out via numerous drive modes.

The NSX’s exterior improvements amount to minor cosmetic changes. Thermal Orange Pearl paint arrives as an option, tipping its hat to three decades of Acura motorsport participation. That same color can be had on the car’s brake calipers, assuming you spring for the optional carbon ceramic metallic brakes. Buyers enamored with the stock brakes can have red calipers, should they choose.

Meanwhile, the grille surround grows glossier, including for models decked out with the carbon fiber exterior package, and the front grille “garnish” — the piece directly above the mesh and below the leading edge of the hood — goes from chrome to body colored. It must have reminded buyers and Acura brass of the brand’s former beak.

Inside, power four-way seats go from a $1,500 option to standard equipment. New color appears in the cabin, too, with an Indigo blue semi-aniline leather and Alcantara theme now an option. If full leather’s your thing, you have a choice of black (Ebony) and red. Manually adjusted leather-and-Alcantara seats can still be had for no charge.

Beyond the superficial, Acura added beefier stabilizer bars that it claims delivers a faster lap time. Stiffness is up 26 percent in the front and 19 percent in the rear. The rear toe link bushings grow 21 percent stiffer, while rear hub rigidity is up 6 percent. Are you likely to notice any of this in sedate driving? Probably not.

Put the hammer down, and the chassis improvements, coupled with new, specially designed Continental SportContact 6 tires and recalibrated dampers, hybrid power unit, and power steering, are sure to add up to a better-handling beast. Just how much better remains to be seen.

Acura’s marketing the 2019 NSX as something of a value buy, as fans get an additional $4,700 in standard content for a $1,500 bump in base MSRP. Still, that entry price is $157,500.

NSX sales faltered last year, with Acura forced to turn production down to the lowest simmer. The model went special-order-only for 2018. While the end of 2018 orders meant July sales in the U.S. plummeted to just three cars, there’s clearly a downward demand theme here. The brand sold 96 NSX models in the first seven months of 2018, compared to 308 over the same period the year before.

Order books opened yesterday, with the first 2019 NSX models expected to reach customers in October. Is it possible Acura can rekind some sort of spark?

[Images: Acura]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Aug 26, 2018

    The problem with Acura is that someone there believes that following BMW is the way to success, kind of like no one ever got fired for buying IBM back in the day...... TSX Wagon instead of 325i. The ZDX, another sales winner, instead of X6. Now, the NSX, instead of chasing Ferrari, or more intelligently, Porsche, is instead an i8 competitor. The i8 is yet another sales blip, as pretty as it is. Acura pulls the marketing ideas second hand from BMW, and glosses it over a worthy Honda root stock, often pointlessly. The name Honda will carry a premium price point for a premium product. The whole Acura as a special marketing arm to North America ? Acura needs to be taken out behind the shed, and Honda allowed to sell Hondas.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Aug 26, 2018

    It's a super car that just doesn't look like a supercar. The front end is a complete fail, the grille, the 'beak' looks like it should be on an FWD sedan, the rest is generic.

  • Grg I am not sure that this would hold up in snow country. It used to be that people in snow country would not be caught dead in a white car. Now that white cars have become popular in the north, I can't tell you how many times I have seen white cars driving in the snow without lights. Almost all cars are less visible in a snow storm, or for that matter, rain storm, without lights. White ones become nearly invisible.
  • Douglas I have a 2018 BMW 740e PHEV, and love it. It has a modest electric only range compared to newer PHEV's (about 18 miles), but that gets me to the office and back each day. It has a small gas tank to make room for the battery, so only holds about 11 gallons. I easily go 600 or more miles per tank. I love it, and being able to take long road trips without having to plug in (it just operates like a regular Hybrid if you never plug it in). It charges in 75 minutes in my garage from a Level 2 charger I bought on Amazon for $350. Had an electrician add a dryer outlet beside the breaker box. It's the best of both worlds and I would definitely want a PHEV for my next car. 104,000 miles and ZERO problems with the powertrain components (so far).
  • Panther Platform I had a 98 Lincoln Mark VIII so I have a soft spot for this. The Mark VIII styling was not appreciated by all.
  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...