The 2016 Acura NSX finally made its debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, and overall it looks pretty good. That said, it isn’t anything Earth-shatteringly special in supercar terms, and for that reason it does need to be a bit of a bargain. In direct terms, I think the Acura NSX needs to be a sub $150,000 car if it is to succeed.
The 2016 Acura NSX is quite impressive, if a bit conformist to all the current industry trends.
It is powered by a plug-in hybrid system that is similar to that of the Porsche 918 and BMW i8. The engine it uses is Twin Turbo 3.5L V6, and total output is said to be upward of 550hp. The gearbox is a 9 speed dual clutch, which, obviously, uses paddle shifters. Up front there are two electric motors propelling the front wheels, and there is an additional electric motor between the engine and transmission. Yes, the NSX will torque-fill to your heart’s content.
While it shares the NSX nameplate, the new NSX is a very different sort of car than its predecessor. The original NSX was a totally analogue purist sort of car. It basically had an Accord V6 in the back, so it was also extremely reliable, especially by supercar standards in the early ‘90s. The new NSX is a lot more cutting edge by the standards of its day, and will definitely be a much more digital experience. Having said that, Acura’s engineers maintain that the new NSX has a very analogue feel to its driving experience. We’ll have to see about that, but I personally have my doubts.
So the new NSX is ultra-modern and cutting edge. That’s great, but its still an Acura, and not a Porsche or a Ferrari. If they come out and want $200 grand for this car I think it will flop hard.
The exotic supercar market is as much about brand identity as it is about performance. Many owners never explore the actual performance of their cars, but jump at any opportunity to mention that they “own a Ferrari.”
Acura doesn’t have much clout as a high-end brand. Their core products are Honda dressed in suits. Acura has always appealed to people who drove a Honda, got a promotion, and now want something just a little nicer. That’s worked great for them, but that is not how things work with exotic cars.
The NSX should take the approach of being a sort of mid-engine hybrid Nissan GTR in the marketplace. That is to say it needs to outperform all of its direct rivals at the same price point by a decent margin. Ideally, I’d like to see the NSX start somewhere between $90,000 and $110,000, and top out around $135,000 with options. I chose $135,000 as the cap because that happens to be the price of the BMW i8. The Acura is a similar sort of car with way better performance, and I think it could really snag some sales from the i8, as well as every other car in that price range.
I may be too optimistic here, though. I’m honestly worried that Honda spent too much in development to be able to ask an effective price for the NSX. We’ll have to wait and see. Honestly, as long as the NSX is priced under the territory of an Audi R8 V10 it should do well enough. But I do think it needs to present a really solid value to succeed in today’s crowded marketplace of high performance cars.