Acura NSX Prototype

From Acura press: The NSX project was initiated in 1984. The engineers at Tochigi Research and Development Center created a list of attributes the future NSX had to possess. First on their list was top-rank performance on a level equal to or greater than the existing exotics. Their interpretation of performance was not narrowly defined to a few areas such as power, handling and brakillg, but included areas that are often given less attention by the traditional builders of exotica.

Crucial to this concept was liveability.The car had to be as easy to live with as any other Acura product despite the very high performance goals. That meant incorporating such attributes as excellent visibility, comfort, reliability in all components, and active and passive safety systems.The challenge they saw was integrating these concepts, which are in many cases mutually exclusive, into a midengine high performance car.

In their survey of the extant exotic and sports cars, the project leaders saw a clearly delineated map. One section contained the limited-production exotics such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, and the more rarified versions of the venerable Porsche 911. Aside from the mid- or rear-engine configuration, this class of car is characterized by a heavy emphasis on engine power and the first priority is given to packaging the mechanical components.

They are also the sort of cars that demand constant attention, both in service and maintenance and when driven quickly. Part of the cachet of these vehicles is the fact that they're sometimes idiosyncratic, quirky and have to be mastered or coerced into submission by a very skilled driver. Their ergonomics are often far from ideal- something which can be perceived as either anachronistically charming, or just exasperating. This type of car, while great fun to drive on an occasional basis, may become tiresome when driven daily or on a long trip. Although their power to weight ratios and visceral thrills are desirable qualities, the Acura NSX would not be a car just for Sunday afternoons.
On the other end of the sports car spectrum are the lightweight, mass-produced sporty cars like Miata and MR2.

While these vehicles provide a high degree of reliability and fun at an affordable price, they don't possess the very high levels of performance the project leaders envisioned for the NSX. Their most desirable traits are light overall weight and good ergonomic packaging. They can be driven easily at moderate speed and make no unnecessary demands on the driver.

Occupying the middle ground are the middle weight mass-production cars like Corvette and 300ZX. These are certainly livable sports cars with sufficient performance to satisfy an enthusiast. Their priorities include comfort and convenience. And while they can excel in certain areas, their overall performance is compromised due to their high overall weight and abundance of luxury features. The Acura NSX was envisioned as stretching the current sports car envelope. It would occupy a segment that was philosophically much closer to the lightweight, highly responsive characteristics, of a Formula One car than either the traditional heavyweight sports cars or the middleweight sports/touring machines.

It was to be a synthesis combining the light weight of a "sporty" car, the power output, looks, performance, limited production, and packaging of an exotic, and the ergonomics and livability of a middleweight sports car. Most importantly, the Acura NSX was to be a car that could be driven very, very quickly, and right to the limit without extraordinary efforts by the driver. There would be no need for the driver to accommodate himself to quirky handling characteristics, disturbing drop-throttle oversteer or any of the other negative attributes commonly associated with exotic sports cars. Oearly, this was an ambitious goal. Nothing like the NSX has been attempted before and, if successful, the NSX would redefine the meaning of an exotic.

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