By on August 12, 2019

2019 Acura NSX

2019 Acura NSX

3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (500 horsepower @ 6,500-7,500 rpm; 406 lb-ft @ 2,000-6,000 rpm) that pairs with direct-drive electric motor and twin electric motors for 573 total system horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque.

Nine-speed dual clutch automatic, all-wheel drive

21 city / 22 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

11.1 city, 10.8 highway, 11.0 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $157,500 (U.S) / $189,900 (Canada)

As Tested: $196,500 (U.S.) / $234,995 (Canada)

Prices include $1,800 destination charge in the United States and $3,095 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

One of the more frequent comments I’ve heard since the C8 Corvette dropped is some variation of “the Acura NSX is screwed.”

That comment makes sense – Chevrolet is promising similar performance numbers from the newly mid-engined ‘Vette, with a base price that is nearly $100K cheaper.

So yeah, if the next Corvette fulfills Chevy’s promise at a significantly lower cost than the NSX, that could spell trouble for a supercar that’s already selling slowly by supercar standards.

Still, the NSX has two things going for it. One, logic and rationality doesn’t always matter among the well-heeled – in other words, some will pay for the pricier car, regardless of specs, because of brand name/loyalty, or styling, or whatever.

Two, the NSX is just plain fantastic.

No car, not even one that costs more than my home, is without flaws. But to see the NSX’s blemishes, one must squint.

I admit I felt somewhat uncomfortable driving the car – not in the sense of physical discomfort, but because driving an NSX is a surefire way of getting a lot of attention as you move about town (a group of bros thought I might be an actor, thanks to my tester’s California plates). And there was discomfort getting in and out – I am a little over six feet tall and long of leg, so entry and egress was tricky.

Once my butt was parked firmly in the seat, the story changed. When in the right drive mode, the twin-turbocharged V6 that works in concert with an electric motor in the rear (and two more in the front) makes wonderful noises. Rear visibility is limited, but less so than one would expect.

2019 Acura NSX

You can customize the NSX to start in any of the four available drive modes: Quiet, Sport (the default unless changed via customization), Sport +, or Track. I did most of my non-highway street driving in Sport, saving the Quiet mode for a few freeway jaunts.

In Quiet mode, the car works to be in electric-only mode more often, and the exhaust sounds virtually disappear. Revs are limited to 4,000, the transition to use of the gas engine is quieter, and the transmission upshifts at lower RPMs.

[Get new and used Acura NSX pricing here!]

Predictably, Sport mode tightens up the steering compared to Quiet, and it allows more exhaust and intake sounds into the cabin. Throttle mapping is more aggressive than in Quiet mode, the rev limit is higher, and the nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission holds on to gears longer/shifts at higher RPMs. It does not kill the stop/start function.

Sport + uses an even more aggressive throttle map, speeds up the transmission’s shifts, adds more steering feedback, maximizes torque provided by the electric motors, and gets the electric power-steering with variable gear ratios to work hand-in-hand with a more aggressive direct yaw control setting and what Acura calls Agile Handling Assist (read: electronic doohickey that makes the car handle better by using electronics to do what you, a talent-limited human, cannot) and the magnetorheological dampers to provide more nimbleness in corners. Acura’s press materials say this is the best mode for attacking that curving road out in the sticks.

2019 Acura NSX

Track mode is basically Sport + on steroids, allowing the driver to use Launch Control. The brakes are somehow enhanced, and there’s more pedal feedback. The all-wheel drive system, the Agile Handling Assist system, the stability-assist control system, and the transmission all change their programming to support driving at the limit. The exhaust gets even louder, and the battery’s charge is set to the optimum standard for track driving.

Whatever mode you choose, this thing can handle. Steering is precise and accurate, with good feedback. Turn-in is instant and exact. The NSX feels planted and stable, but it’s not impossible to get a bit of tail rotation.

Need to power out of a corner? You’re well covered by the 573 total system horsepower sitting behind you, along with the 476 lb-ft of torque. Breaking it down, the V6 makes 500 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, while the direct-drive motor makes 47 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque. The twin electric motors make 36 horsepower and 54 lb-ft each. Yes, the numbers don’t add up to match the total system numbers – that rarely happens with hybrids for a number of reasons.

Whatever the number, this thing is license-risking fast. And it stops just as quickly, thanks to firm binders.

Of course, you’d expect this from a supercar. You know it will accelerate quickly, handle well, and stop in short distances without much drama. Where the NSX truly shines is when it’s not being driven hard.

2019 Acura NSX

Yes, you’ll feel just about every bump and pavement imperfection, but if you put it in quiet mode and settle in for a highway cruise, it’s perfectly comfortable otherwise. Some road noise filters in – more than in the average car – but you never feel like you’re being punished for the sake of performance.

The cabin a mostly pleasant place to do business, but there are flaws. The push-button shifter that plagues so many Honda and Acura products these days feels very much un-special in a car of this caliber. The lack of a volume and tuning knob for the radio rankles, as does the lack of AM radio in general. And something went weird with the memory seats – the driver’s seat continued to move into an uncomfortable position when I wanted to get in or out, and adjusting the memory settings didn’t seem to solve the problem.

There’s little in the way of exterior or interior storage, as you might expect. A glass partition behind the driver keeps engine noise and heat at bay – even on a warm day, the car’s A/C is up to the task. Materials are a mixed bag – some of the switchgear and interior bits are clearly lifted from pedestrian Honda/Acura products, and that’s a disappointment at this price. Other bits look the part.

2019 Acura NSX

Supercars with everyday usability don’t come cheap – well, save for the C8, perhaps – and the NSX is no different. Just getting in the door will cost you $157,500. Changes for 2019 are minimal and mostly cosmetic, although the Technology Package being standard now is newsworthy. Mechanical changes include new tires, changes to the AWD system’s tuning, and larger/stiffer stabilizer bars.

My test ride cost nearly $200K once optioned out. The white paint was a reasonable $700, but the next item on the list will make your eyes pop: $12,600 for a carbon-fiber exterior sport package, including a carbon-fiber engine cover. The carbon-fiber roof adds another 6 grand and the carbon-fiber spoiler adds another $3,000.

Remember those stout brakes I mentioned? Well, that kind of stopping force comes at a price. The carbon-ceramic rotors and silver calipers set you back another $10,600.

There’s more carbon-fiber fun on the inside, as an interior carbon-fiber sport package with Alcantara headliner hits your bank account for $3,800. Satellite radio is a relative bargain at $500, and with that, the previous options, and the $1,800 destination fee, the total comes to $194,700.

2019 Acura NSX

Meanwhile, Chevrolet claims a base price of around $60,000 for the mid-engined Corvette.

Putting aside the possibly premature comparisons to the Corvette for a second, let’s focus on what nearly 200 large gets you should you select the NSX.

You’ll wind up with a precision-handling track car that’s quite livable on the street. Freeway friendly, this supercar feels like a scalpel when working its way through corners. It sounds fantastic when you let it roar, but you can also make it shut up with a flick of a dial.

2019 Acura NSX

I had a hard time finding flaws. The price will make you blanch, even if you ignore less-expensive cars of this ilk. The interior is nice enough but doesn’t feel as special as the rest of the car. It’s odd not having AM radio. Getting in and out stinks. The release for the small cargo area aft of the engine bay was so hard to find that I never found it – embarrassingly, I had to confirm its location with Acura PR.

When it comes to flaws, that’s about it.

Two-hundred thousand dollars will buy you one hell of a scalpel.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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38 Comments on “2019 Acura NSX Review – Scalpel, Please...”


  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I really like this NSX. It’s something you can use as an everyday driver (if you really want to put the miles on it!), and still flog whenever you want. But the price just verges on the insane.

    Tim, yes, buyers in this price range can overlook a lot of things to get what they want. But there’s one thing you left out and that is prestige. If Acura didn’t (or in many eyes hadn’t) lose/lost their way and turn into a CUV company, AND continued to build the NSX over the years instead of that huge gap, then MAYBE the price would be justified. But as of right now, and the sales numbers prove it, they priced themselves right out of the conversation. But wanting close to $200,000 for an NSX would get people checked for illness.

    Porsche 911 Turbo, any Aston Martin, current Corvette ZR-1, a Bentley – these can all be purchased for around the same amount of money and offer similar performance, plus the street cred and heritage that buyers want.

    Being a Honda fan, if I had $200,000 to blow on a car, I’m one of the few that would head right to an Acura dealer and take a serious look at an NSX. But I’m in the minority. I love the styling and the technology. But that’s a steep check to write when there are better cars out there. I think the new 2020 Corvette might price check the market a little bet, and I can see Acura lowering the price a bit to maybe $110K-$125K to spur a few sales.

    …and if a $23,000 Civic finally got a volume knob, Acura, what’s your excuse??? (Yeah, yeah…use the steering wheel controls…)

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      “Still, the NSX has two things going for it. One, logic and rationality doesn’t always matter among the well-heeled – in other words, some will pay for the pricier car, regardless of specs, because of brand name/loyalty, or styling, or whatever.”

      Yup, logic are overlooked when it comes to buying a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Logic isn’t overlooked when it comes to buying a Honda/Acura. The original NSX and even this one had to be way better than those cars. The Corvette will crush the NSX with the buyer who disregards the badge on the hood.

      • 0 avatar
        ttiguy

        Ummmm only on TTAC is an Acura badge more prestigious than a corvette badge. In the real world, a corvette carries more cache than any Acura 99 times out of a 100

  • avatar
    R Henry

    If I ever could (never expect to) afford a supercar, I am certain I would purchase one with more than 6 cylinders. As such, NSX and GT are dead to me.

  • avatar
    JoeBrick

    That appears to be a very nice car. It is a real shame that I wasn’t born RICH instead of so damn good-looking…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    That center stack and surround looks flat out cheap for a $160K+ vehicle. It does match the look of the dash materials above and below and that shiny material looks like it could be out of an Altima (at least in the picture)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’m sure this is a fantastic car, and it’d have been successful with a pricetag of around $90,000. But at $150,000, the prime competition isn’t the Corvette – it’s the Porsche 911, which is also fantastic to drive.

    So what’s the difference between a $150,000 NSX and a $150,000 911? The performance will be similar, but a $150,000 911 is a car that’s tailored completely to the owner; meanwhile, one $150,000 NSX will be pretty much like the next one, and they’ll both have no shortage of stuff that looks like it came straight off an Accord inside.

    With a $80,000 pricetag, all this stuff is completely forgivable considering how well the NSX performs, but it’s not forgivable at $150,000. I don’t think Acura really grasped how the market for cars like this really works.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Most reviews of this car have been positive. I just think competition is much fiercer now than in 1990. Since the 1G NSX nearly everything outside the Alfa 4C is “everyday liveable” and there’s been an explosion in credible performance from pony cars and sports sedans.

    I still think doing a hybrid V10 over the hybrid turbo V6 would have upped the razzle-dazzle factor for this price point.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    The only “super” thing about this car is how super generic it is, with performance that can be bested by vehicles costing 1/2 to even nearly 1/3 as much.

    It’s a complete and utter joke, and is very emblematic of and puts the asterisk on how far Acura has fallen from grace…

    …that they could not even register a 2 1/2 stars (out of 10) on the tomatometer whereas lowly Nissan rang that bell with a solid 8 1/2 or even 9 with the GTR many years prior tells one all one needs to know about where Acura’s engineering and design passion is (dead on side of some back alley) as well as their business and overall automotive awareness in the moment.

    A really poor effort made worse by baths!t crazy pricing, with the Nissan GTR smiling and putting up a middle finger as photobomber in the background.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    I can’t tell from photos, is that the one with dark blue leather interior/seats?
    Either way, it drives ok. Almost boringly easy and without fuss. Not my favorite driving position and such.
    I tell you what surprised me, back to back after this car, Hellcat Redeye is a HOOT!

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I’ve always maintained this car would actually sell better as a Honda.

    Acura is a a WORSE brand than Honda, even in the luxury/supercar world.

    At least Honda has some recognition in racing, F1 etc.

    Still too expensive regardless.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      In the rest of the world it is a Honda. Only here in the US we get the Acura badge. Its a awesome car, but is not on anyone’s radar. Strike up a conversation about super cars and after your co-workers have run down the list remind them this car should be on it. Everyone forgot all about it. There was a time when the original NSX was compared to Ferrari. A lot has changed since then.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      The $40,000 ILX is an only slightly tarted up Civic…ILX styling, is, surprisingly, more bland than the Honda. As such, at that price, one must question the sanity of its buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        If you’re paying $40k for an ILX, you’re getting ripped off. MSRP of the most expensive ILX available is $31k, and you shouldn’t even pay that much. The base version is $26k, right where a loaded Civic leaves off.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Can you include more than one photo of the interior, or is it THAT bad?

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Nope, just really hard to shoot, thanks to the glass panel. Also, it’s not uncommon for us to run just one or two interior pics. Depends on which reviewer it is, how well the pics turned out, word count to pic ratio, et cetera. There’s no hard and fast rule.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Sorry, but the NSX is screwed.

    Want a great deal? C8 Corvette.

    Want heritage? Buy a used Ferrari.

    Want high tech? Get a McLaren.

    The only thing this wins on is the AWD…but then again, why not just a 911?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Want an amazing driving experience and something you could daily? Get an Audi R8 V10.

      Want a bespoked car that doesn’t look like your country club bro? Get a 911.

      Want to save the planet? Get a Model S.

      It’s overpriced, the Acura design language is a liability (why, why, why does it have the crease on the rear clip – ugh), and after years of delays it was yawn enducing when launched.

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        I always forget about Audis.

        I think my problem with the R8 is that you can say “it has the same engine as a Lamborghini” but then you’re reminding yourself that you could have bought a Lamborghini instead.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Disgusting automatic filth.

  • avatar
    darisgin

    I prefer the original NSX (at least in it’s final editions). The new one just looks Japanese blah to me. (Yes, I know it *isn’t* blah, but it looks too much like many other “supercars,” even a little less so.)

    For $200k, I could get an upgraded C8 *AND* a de Tomaso Pantera.

    Since I *don’t* have $200k, I guess I could choose between a loaded Ford Explorer or the Corvette.

    Yes, THAT is how inexpensive is the C8: Ford Explorer (something everyday ppl regularly spend too much on) and Corvette overlap in pricing. Many pickup trucks cost more than $60k, too.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      For $200K you could get a C8 for the road course (let’s estimate $80K for a Gran Sport/Z51 equivalent), a Dodge Charger Hellcat for the drag strip ($65K), and still have enough money left over for a Ram 2500 Powerwagon crew cab 4X4 6’4″ bed ($54K) to trailer said C8 or Hellcat to the race track.

      The above assumes you pay full sticker on the C8, the Hellcat, and the RAM. Likely on the C8, maybe on the Hellcat, unlikely on the RAM.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I don’t understand the point of this car.

    The hybrid tech is not winning it any buyers, and is turning off buyers like me.

    The styling is awkward at best.

    The price is at least $50,000 too high compared to the performance you get vs. its competitors.

    There is absolutely no connection to the original NSX which was groundbreaking in its design and performance at the time. This is an expensive also-ran.

    I’m honestly curious to hear why anyone chose this car over its competition. I would have thought a Z06, ZR1, or GT-R provides more performance for less money, an R8 is just as livable while being more exotic, and a Viper or GT3 is more fun to drive and more capable on track with minimal on road sacrifices. Where is the appeal for this?

  • avatar
    nemosdad

    Despite the price point I’d like to point out that this car is more than likely to be bullet proof.
    If I had a couple hundred grand laying around and was looking for a supercar, then dependability would be huge for me.
    Nothing more embarrassing than breaking down every time you go to show off.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    I cannot recall the last time I used AM radio. I’m sure there are people who want it for sports, or those all-shouting-all-the-time talk shows that inform you that the world is a terrible place, and it’s everyone’s fault but yours, but beyond that? Does anyone else use it?

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      I still listen to AM radio for traffic and weather info and for sports (actual sports, not sports talk). It’s an annoying omission in a post-1980 automobile, especially for one this expensive.

      It’s interesting to me how the 21st century American consumer is happily being shepherded into a pay-a-monthly-fee-for-everything lifestyle.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        I don’t use AM radio regularly by any stretch of the imagination, but if I’m ever caught in traffic and see a message board advising me to tune into an AM radio station for congestion information only to discover that the car I’m driving doesn’t have an AM radio, I won’t be experiencing customer satisfaction.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      Well, if you enjoying listening to the MLB game on the way home from work, an AM radio would be a plus. With good announcers, baseball works well on the radio.

      Its an odd omission on at 160K car. How much would it cost to have it?

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    AM radio? Who cares? The total lack of any driver assistance features including the most basic things like blind spot warning is a FAR more serious omission than radio bands that no one under age 212 listens to. Then there’s the head unit straight out of a Honda Civic, including the Garmin NAV (SO CLASSY ACURA!!) the switch gear from an ILX, and just the general impression that you’re getting about half the interior quality you should be getting for the money – so like every other Acura in that regard.

    It also looks boring as all hell. The Lexus LC500 is far more striking looking on the outside, and far more impressive and expensive looking on the inside, and costs half as much. Acura flat out blew it with this car.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I realize that nobody buys, or fails to buy, a $200K-ish car for its stellar fuel economy. But 22 mpg highway from a hybrid, especially one with a 9-speed gearbox, make it seem as if Honda just wasn’t trying hard enough.

  • avatar

    GM – what a disgrace!

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