At Long Last: The 2020 Acura NSX
Updated: Mar 31, 2022
After almost 24 years of writing about cars for a living, there's still a list of cars I haven't driven. The Acura NSX was technically on that list.
I say technically because at Western Automotive Journalists Media Days in 2016, I was able to drive one for two minutes around the parking lot at Laguna Seca Raceway before I was told that Tanner Foust had a plane to catch and he needed some seat and camera time. Dude's show had just been canceled. I wasn't going to be an ogre. I figured I'd get to really drive it sooner or later.
Who knew it would be five years?
It was soooo worth the wait.
The Acura NSX (our tester is a 2020 model) is nothing short of stunning. It is absolutely a no-excuses supercar. But it also pulls off the trick of being completely usable and driver-friendly in daily life. You could commute in this car. I know. I did, for a week.
Don't worry. I drove it fun places too. More on that to come.
It's a mid-engine car, with a 3.5-liter twin turbo V6 behind the seats and three electric motors. One of them combines with the V6 to produce 573 horsepower, which goes to the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The other two electric motors independently power the front wheels, so the NSX is all-wheel drive. A very, very precise all-wheel drive.
The EPA fuel economy estimate is 21 miles per gallon city, 22 highway.
But beyond the power, there's the handling. Continental SportContact 6s are the standard tire. In 2019, Acura added a stiffer rear hub, stiffer rear stabilizer bar, stiffer front stabilizer bar, stiffer rear toe link bushing and revised the drive system tuning.
I've mentioned my neighbor Phil before (two Porsches, a buncha bikes including a Harley that until recently belonged to my wife). We joke about our "secret test routes" (a phrase one of the buff books used back in the 80s). I won't reveal his, but this is mine, a nice blend of road types and scenery through the Sierra Nevada foothills, down into Amador County wine country and home again.
As you see on the map, the estimated time for this 77.9 mile loop is an hour and 52 minutes. Usually, thanks to some traffic in the populated areas and the need to slow down more on some of these curves than Google Maps realizes, it's two hours (Phil: "What, you following a Prius or something?").
In the NSX? 90 minutes. Why? It wasn't because I sped ( I didn't. Much.). It was because I was able to maintain speed on the twisty bits. Even the 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe I reviewed back in January needed an hour and 40 minutes on that route. It probably could have handled those twists and turns without slowing, too---but it didn't communicate that well enough to me for me to be confident in just driving through them at the same speeds I was taking the rest of the road. The NSX and its all-wheel drive did.
The base price of the 2020 Acura NSX is $157,500. That includes satellite navigation, an ELS Studio premium audio system and Technology Package, heated semi-Aniline Saddle Leather and Alcantara® power sport seats and front and rear proximity sensors.
Our tester also had extra-cost options, including the Carbon Fiber Exterior Sport Package with carbon fiber engine cover ($12,600), a carbon fiber roof ($6,000), a carbon fiber rear decklid spoiler ($3,000), carbon-ceramic rotors with red brake calipers ($10,600), the Interior Carbon Fiber Sport Package with Alcantara headliner ($3,800) and SiriusXM Satellite Radio ($500).
If you're thinking that's gonna add up, yeah. With $1,995 destination and handling charges, the as-tested price of the 2020 Acura NSX is $194,000.
I don't have that kind of money, but I can't argue with the price. We're talking a legit supercar here, plus one you truly can live with on a daily basis, plus one with Acura reliability.
I'm totally okay with having waited five years to drive the NSX. But if I'm honest, I hope it won't be five years until the next time.