I drove a $195,000 Acura NSX to find out if the updated legend is the best value in supercars — here's the verdict

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • The Acura NSX has been updated for the 2019 model year.
  • The second-generation of the supercar arrived in 2016 and was named Business Insider’s Car of the Year.
  • The NSX has a reputation for being a high-performance machine that’s easy to to live with.
  • The 2019 Acura NSX is even more impressive than the version we drove a few years ago.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

We like the Acura NSX. We really, really like it. Business Insider’s Ben Zhang has long been a fan of the first generation of the car, which hit the streets in 1990, and in 2016, we named the massively updated NSX our Business Insider Car of the Year.

What makes the NSX so great? It combines three things almost perfectly: performance, value, and technology. As a plus, it’s also the easiest supercar to live with on a daily basis; if you dial back all the fun stuff, the NSX is as placid and compliant as an Acura sedan.

We live in a Golden Age for supercars, with incredibly appealing offerings up and down the price ladder, from Ferrari, Ford, Lamborghini, McLaren, Audi, Porsche, and a cluster of more exotic nameplates, including Bugatti, Pagani, and Koenigsegg. Bargain hunters also have amped-up versions of the Chevy Corvette and Ford Mustang to turn to.

In this cohort, the NSX is special. For the 2019 model year, the supercar – originally launched in 2016 – received an update. We wanted to find out if it was as good as or better than the machine that so enchanted us a few years back. Last year, Acura kindly loaned us a $US195,000 example, (base was $US157,500) built with pride in Ohio.

Here’s how it went down:

Photos by Hollis Johnson.


The 2019 Acura NSX arrived with a “Thermal Orange Pearl” paint job (add $US700).

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The NSX’s looks sneak up on you. It isn’t as flamboyant as anything like the Ferrari 488 or the Ford GT, much less the Lamborghini Aventador, and even the Corvette ZR1 pulls out more stops. But the NSX’s design adds up to eye-catching statement.

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Given the lack of bling, the gazes I drew when I tested the NSX were as surprising as when we first sampled the car. But they were devout gazes, to be sure — people can’t take their eyes off this thing!

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The reason why is obvious, on reflection: the NSX is a fine example of harmonious design. The proportions are carefully constructed and the angles are crisp, yet not over-the-top. The price on the carbon-fibre roof is, however, $US6,000.

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Even the badge is relatively modest, but it fits in impeccably.

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From stem to stern, the NSX is slick yet classy. Perhaps the only thing that bugged me about this tester was the incongruous, chrome door handle. The chrome strip on the front has been eliminated in favour of a black element that joins with the grille.

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Functional details, such as this vent, are restrained.

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Even the aerodynamic side-view mirrors barely call attention to themselves.

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These blacked-out Y-spoke wheels are actually standard. The carbon-ceramic brake rotors and fat orange calipers … not so much. They’re $US10,600 extra.

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The rear deck lid spoiler is $US3,000 worth of carbon-fibre.

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The NSX’s 3.5-litre, 500-horsepower, twin-turbo V6 is a marvel of compact, mid-mounted majesty. It’s tucked beneath a carbon-fibre cover that comes as part of a $US12,600 exterior sport package. The 0-60 mph dash passed in three seconds, and the NSX tops out at 191 mph.

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The NSX, unlike many other mid-engine supercars, lacks a front trunk, or “frunk,” as we’ll see why in a second. This trunk sits under the engine hatch and has enough space for … well, maybe one piece of carry-on luggage.

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Up front, we find the hybrid-electric end of the party. This joins with a direct-drive assist motor yoked to the V6. So in addition to the gas-powered mill, the NSX has three electric motors (there’s one at each front wheel), bumping total power up to 573 horses.

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Inside, we were greeted with waves of “Indigo” leather and grayscaled Alcantara. With the orange exterior, we decided this should be dubbed the “Gator” package.

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The nine-speed transmission is a racing-influenced, dual-clutch unit that can be run into auto mode or by flicking through gears with the steering-mounted paddle shifters. The instrument cluster is analogue-digital, and pretty no-nonsense.

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The Integrated Dynamic System provides four modes: Quiet, Sport, Sport Plus, and Track. I found Sport to be the best for spirited driving on public roads. If you want to hear the NSX roar, however, you’ll need Track mode. This is also the mode that delivers the biggest kick in the pants — the NSX at its most ferocious.

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The NSX’s infotainment system lags Acura’s newer offering, which we tested in the new RDX. You always have Apple CarPlay as a fallback. That said, the system performs perfectly well.

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There’s the usual suite of apps.

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The system will also output some driving data.

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Our tester featured a SiriusXM satellite-radio subscription to go along with USB/AUX device inputs and Bluetooth device pairing.

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The ELS Studio Audio system sounds amazing — it also won Business Insider’s 2018 Audio System of the Year award.

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So let’s fire the NSX up and see how the 2019 version compares with the one we loved!

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The verdict?

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“Once again, Honda and Acura will have a halo product – a stunning, eye-catching supercar to get buyers in the showroom and to stroke the egos of the brand’s owners,” we wrote in 2016, when we named the NSX our Car of the Year. “It’s a car that will set the pace and the tone for Honda and Acura in the coming years.”

And indeed it has. In fact, we thought the updated NSX was as much fun to drive in 2018 as it was two years ago. We should note that the NSX has been a bit of a sluggish seller for Acura. So a few tweaks were in order. But selling a lot of supercars isn’t Acura’s bailiwick; selling crossovers is. If the NSX performs its roles as a halo car, mission accomplished.

The car still gets a ridiculous 22 mpg combined while producing 573 horsepower. Other supercars that use elaborate hybrid-electric technology, such as the Porsche 918 Spyder, cost ten times more.

“There’s just nothing you can’t do with the NSX,” we noted a few years back.

“Poodle around town? Check. Cruise on the highway? Check. Take it hard into the corners while flipping through the exquisite nine-speed gearbox – well, four or five of them, anyway – and playing with with responsive, juicy throttle response? Check. Punch it in a straight line? Check. Slide around a track? Check. Sit in the driveway and listen to Little Steven’s Underground Garage on Sirius satellite radio? Why not? The seats are pliant enough for napping.”

None of that has changed.

The bottom line is that supercars are objects of desire – and often extremely difficult to live with. For 10% of thrills, owners have to put up with 90% hassles. Not so with the NSX, which creates nearly 0% hassles in no-hassle Quiet mode – and delivers 100% thrills in Track mode. That range is unlike anything else in the segment. OK, at close to $US200,000, it doesn’t come cheap. But that’s reasonable in supercar country.The last Lambo I drove was $US120,000 more than the NSX.

To answer my own question, I’m not sure the NSX is the best, best, best value in high-performance motoring. That honour would go to a Corvette or a Mustang. But among serious supercars, the NSX continues to stand out.

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