2019 Acura NSX First Review
- Revised and updated for 2019
- Minor aesthetic changes improve appearance
- New interior colors and upholstery
- New tire compound for more grip and better handling
- Revised suspension tuning and upgraded tires
- Prices start at $157,500
Acura treated its flagship NSX sports car to a mild refresh for 2019, which is a mere two years after the exotic sports car made its highly anticipated second-generation debut. The all-aluminum coupe resides in a highly-competitive segment that is occupied with rivals including the Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo, and McLaren 570S – continuously improving competition has forced the Japanese automaker to implement early running changes.
The new-for-2019 Acura NSX enhancements include cosmetic design alterations, an expanded interior palette, new standard equipment, suspension refinements, and upgraded tires.
How much does the Acura NSX cost?
Base price of the 2019 Acura NSX is $157,500 (plus a $1,800 destination charge). Major options include the Carbon Fiber Exterior Sport Package ($12,600), carbon-ceramic brake rotors with colored caliper finish ($10,600), semi-aniline full leather power sport seats ($1,000), and SiriusXM Satellite radio ($500).
To improve the NSX’s handling, Acura made changes to the suspension, tires, and drive system tuning on the 2019 model.
The rear hubs were made 6 percent more rigid and the rear toe link bushings are 21 percent stiffer than those on the 2018 model. The front and rear stabilizer bars were also stiffened (by 26 percent and 19 percent, respectively).
New Continental SportContact 6 tires feature a new tread design, improved construction, and a sticker tire compound. Lastly, tuning changes were applied to the adaptive damper system (ADS), electronic power steering (EPS), vehicle stability assist (VSA), and the automaker’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.
What are the exterior and interior changes to the 2019 Acura NSX?
Visually, very little has changed between the 2018 and 2019 model year. Acura changed the front and rear grille treatment from matte to gloss (it did the same with the exterior carbon fiber) and it painted the silver grille garnish body color. Orange has been added to complement the optional Carbon Ceramic brake upgrade.
The interior color palette has been expanded with the addition of available Indigo upholstery (semi-aniline leather and black Alcantara) and Red upholstery (full semi-aniline leather). The Technology Package (satellite navigation, ELS Studio Premium Audio, front and rear proximity sensors, and power adjustable heated seats) is now standard.
Acura NSX engine, motors, and torque vectoring
Traditional supercars have one engine – typically a naturally-aspirated V8 – that drives the rear wheels. The innovative hybrid 2019 Acura NSX has one turbocharged V6 gasoline engine, three electric motors and permanent all-wheel drive.
At the heart of the Acura’s hybrid system is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, which is rated at 500 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque (torque is responsible for the kick in the backside). Sandwiched between the engine and 9-speed dual-clutch gearbox is a 47-horsepower motor. Two additional motors, each rated at 36 horsepower, power the left and right front wheels. Total system power is 573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque, which delivers a sprint from 0-60 mph in about three seconds flat. Top speed is electronically limited to 191 mph.
One benefit of the hybrid system is fuel efficiency. The EPA rates the 2019 Acura NSX at 21 mpg city/22 mpg highway, but those numbers are best used as a conservative guide. City mileage will likely be lower if driven aggressively, while steady-state highway economy will often be higher (during our testing, the NSX delivered an indicated 25.8 mpg over a high-speed, 87-mile highway test).
The second benefit of the Acura’s advanced powertrain is its ability to improve vehicle handling and dynamics through torque vectoring – essentially adjusting the direction of travel by selectively changing the amount of power going through one or more wheels. The NSX, equipped with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), uses its electric motors to aid acceleration, cornering, and braking – delivering awe-inspiring performance.
The Acura NSX has four driving modes
Mimicking a chameleon, the 2019 Acura NSX is able to adapt – via a cockpit-mounted switch – to a variety of driving conditions. The four-mode (Quiet, Sport, Sport+, and Track) Integrated Dynamics System electronically tailors the vehicle’s steering, throttle, brakes, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), adaptive suspension dampers, Sport Hybrid SH-AWD control systems, and exhaust note to the mode.
Quiet mode is almost too passive for an exotic sports car, as the NSX attempts to run in EV-mode (silently) as much as possible. The exhaust note is subdued, throttle response is buffered, and the steering feels light.
Sport mode, which is the default setting, is slightly more aggressive and assertive yet lacks the mechanical charisma and accelerator pedal response sought by traditional driving enthusiasts.
Sport+ is our favorite for most conditions, as it delivers an assertive response from the powerplant, heavier steering feel, and a more boisterous exhaust note (as Porsche does with the 911, Acura supplements the mechanical exhaust note into the cabin with sound pipes).
Talented enthusiasts will appreciate the ready-to-race Track mode, which keeps the turbocharged engine at a heightened state while increasing the VSA operating envelope – the NSX may be rotated mid-corner. Gearshifts from the dual-clutch transmission are immediate, while the exhaust note is at its maximum volume.
How does the 2019 Acura NSX drive?
Without question, the 2019 Acura NSX is one of the most capable sports cars on the road today. The twin-turbocharged V6, combined with the trio of electric motors, provides neck-bending acceleration – the NSX is one of the quickest cars on the road. The hybrid system, which is seamless in operation, masterfully distributes power to the ground, so acceleration-robbing wheelspin is almost non-existent.
Despite a decidedly synthetic steering effort, turn-in is immediate with precision and accuracy that is almost unmatched by any other vehicle on the road today. And, the torque-vectoring system is magical in the corners, brilliantly distributing the torque to the wheels to ensure the NSX never strays from its intended path.
The most impressive characteristic of the 2019 Acura NSX is its lack of drama. It is effortless to drive around town – no more challenging that an Acura ILX – yet it delivers volatile performance when the accelerator pedal is mashed to the floor.
Is the 2019 Acura NSX better than the 2018 model?
In a nutshell, yes. Performance is improved, the aesthetic changes are more visually pleasing, and the technology package is a welcomed addition.
At launch, Acura offered the NSX with standard Continental ContiSportContact 5P tires that weren’t capable of keeping up with the coupe’s performance – they overheated and lost grip at the limit.
The 2019 model is fitted with more aggressive Continental SportContact 6 tires that elevate the NSX’s performance – not handicap it. The tires complement the retuned suspension – meaning the full potential of the NSX may be extracted (according to Acura, the new tire allows the NSX to lap the Honda-owned Suzuka F1 track two seconds faster than last year’s model).
What we don’t like about the 2019 Acura NSX
Acura (blame parent company Honda) made a rare misstep several years ago when it debuted an infotainment system with uninspiring speed, mediocre graphics, and no volume knob. The company has been diligently upgrading the systems on its mass-market models, but the NSX is still stuck with this lackluster original system.
It’s not a deal breaker – just a frustration.
We also wished that the NSX had a more aggressive exhaust note – even in Track mode it lacks the expected anger and fury – to better match its supercar performance.