Anecdotally or factually, Honda and Acura have always been at the top of any list gauging reliability, but they usually rank at the opposite end of any list that gauges performance. Driving enthusiasts need significantly deeper pockets to pay for “exotic” sports cars, like Porsche and Ferrari, and their upkeep, because these rarely make even the top twenty reliable brands. Is there any way to have both?
Manufactured exclusively in Japan, the 1990 Acura NSX was the first production car to feature an all-aluminum body and chassis, as well as forged aluminum control arms and alloy wheels. The mid-mounted 3.0-liter V6 also featured all-aluminum construction, forged pistons, and the first titanium connecting rods in a production car. Revving up to 8,000 rpm and generating 270 hp, the engine sent power to the rear wheels via four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmissions. The coupe was available from the start, with a targa top from 1995. The engine was upgraded to 3.2 L and 290 hp in 1997, later a six-speed manual transmission, and a refresh in 2002.
Manufactured in the United States, the 2016 Acura NSX features Honda’s SH-AWD hybrid-electric powertrain. Built on a base of aluminum, high-strength steel, and composites, the new car is again contesting exotic sports cars, this time the Ferrari 458. Powered by a mid-mounted 3.5-liter V6 and three electric motors, the new powertrain is capable of nearly 600 hp. An electric-assist nine-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels, while two electric motors drive the front wheels. It is somewhat more expensive than the original, relatively-speaking, but still performs as well as exotics costing many times more. Performance and reliability seem quite opposed to each other, which is why the Acura NSX, outside North America known as the Honda NSX, is so intriguing. Can a sports car be fun to drive but also not need an engine overhaul every 10,000 miles? The Acura NSX answers with a resounding “Yes!”
1990 – 2005 Acura NSX
1994 Acura NSX
2016 – Present Acura NSX
2017 Acura NSX