Acura’s high-dollar, aluminum-bodied, mid-engine sports car underwent a notable redesign during the 2002 model year. In addition to restyled front and rear fascias, the two-passenger NSX got a lower air dam as well as an air diffuser integrated into the lower rear bumper. Acura’s goal was to enhance the car’s handling, performance and aerodynamics.
Fixed-position headlights replaced the prior pop-up units. A trunk lip spoiler was added above restyled taillight housings. The front spring rate was increased, and a larger-diameter rear stabilizer bar and bigger 17-inch tires were installed.
Minor changes for 2004 include a new keyless entry system, gearshift knob and trunk-mounted CD changer. A lightweight removable roof panel is standard.
Since its 1991 debut, the NSX has been the most costly, strongest-performing member of the Acura lineup. It competes against the Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper SRT-10 and Porsche 911. Through the years, the NSX has been a technological showcase for Honda, Acura’s parent company. Originally intended as a response to Ferrari and other makers of high-end sports cars, the NSX never achieved that level of status. A redesigned NSX is likely to appear soon.
Unlike some sports cars with designs that date back to the early 1990s, the NSX still looks sleek and contemporary. Aluminum is used for the low-slung coupe’s sculpted, wedge-shaped body and many other components. An integrated rear spoiler contains a center-mounted brake light. The NSX rides a 99.6-inch wheelbase, measures 174.2 inches long overall and stands 46.1 inches tall. Weight distribution is 40/60 percent, front to rear. The removable aluminum roof panel permits open-air driving and contains an integrated storage compartment.
High-intensity-discharge headlights sit in conventional fixed positions. The lower air dam helps yield a 0.30 coefficient of drag, as well as improved front-to-rear lift balance. Forged aluminum-alloy wheels with a ribbed spoke design hold 17-inch tires.
Only two people can ride in the NSX, but tall occupants get more usable space than they would in many other sports cars. Acura claims the cockpit is meant to evoke that of a jet fighter’s. Because of the midmounted engine, a modestly sized trunk is located up front; its cargo volume is just 5 cubic feet.
Standard equipment includes hand-stitched perforated leather-trimmed seat upholstery, automatic air conditioning, four-way power bucket seats, cruise control, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a Bose cassette stereo with a trunk-mounted CD changer, variable intermittent wipers, and power windows, locks and mirrors.
Under the Hood
Two powertrains are available. A 252-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission, while a 3.2-liter V-6 cranks out 290 hp and mates with a six-speed-manual gearbox. The SportShift automatic unit features a manual gear-selection provision that operates via a toggle lever on the steering wheel — an idea borrowed from Formula One racing. Instead of a throttle cable connected directly to the gas pedal, the NSX uses electronic drive-by-wire technology.
All-disc four-channel antilock brakes and traction control are standard. Side-impact airbags are not available.