Acura didn’t need to update the NSX for 2019, but we’re glad it did.
Hybrid-haters be damned, the reborn 2016 Acura NSX proved its merits on a mass scale. And not just because of battery power, either, but on its impressive performance credentials alone. The NSX was one of the quickest, torquiest, and grippiest cars in its class when it returned to us three years ago. But with a few improvements for 2019, the Acura NSX is even better.
Acura's modest changes to the 2019 NSX give it better grip, more structural rigidity, and improved handling. And while more performance cars make the transition to battery power, the NSX’s improvements put it even further ahead of the game.
The $157,000 Acura NSX is one of the sharpest styled vehicles in its class. And probably the most advanced, too. But it's not nearly the most affordable. A more-powerful 2019 Porsche 911 Turbo costs $133,300 to start. An Audi R8, which is also more powerful, costs just $138,700. Even the new Aston Martin Vantage is only $149,995. The only other hybrid option, the BMW i8, costs $143,400 (but makes for a very different driving experience).
The price doesn't get any easier to swallow after options. SiriusXM satellite radio costs $500, the Casino White Pearl paint job pictured here costs $700, the carbon-fiber spoiler costs $3,000, and the carbon-ceramic brakes cost $10,600. If you want the full carbon-fiber exterior sport package, prepare to dish out $12,600. If you want the same carbon fiber accents in the cabin, that will cost you another $3,800.
Total cost, as tested, is a whopping $194,700, not including $1,800 for destination and handling. At that point, you might as well just get a McLaren 570S ($208,000).
Not a lot has changed visually since the NSX debuted in 2016. The only noticeable upgrade on our 2019 tester (if you squint hard enough) is the painted “beak” piece, now matched to the body instead of painted in a stand-out shade of silver. No need to go and mess with perfection, anyways – the NSX is still one of the best-looking cars in the segment. The angular creases are more appealing than other plainly styled competitors. Only the Aston Martin Vantage is anywhere near as striking.
Head on, the sharp, pointed nose and imposing black grille give the NSX a rocket-like look. From the side, the svelte profile punches above its price tag in its ability to catch the eye. To the uneducated consumer, the NSX almost resembles a Lamborghini. In the rear, the dual LED taillights, optional carbon-fiber decklid spoiler ($3,000), and centrally mounted quad exhaust tips all serve as subtle, stylish end caps.
The NSX's interior is more restrained. The new-for-2019 Indigo Blue leather covers the seats, center console, and dash – Acura throws in Alcantara accents for good measure, and carbon fiber accents on sections of the steering wheel. The steering wheel is a master class in functional, yet beautiful, style. The steering wheel’s squircle shape with grip points at 10 and 2 form seamlessly to the hand. Not to mention it looks great.
Sitting in the NSX in gridlock traffic and listening to a podcast through the superb ELS audio system (part of the now-standard Audio and Technology package) leaves you thinking you’re in a luxury sedan like an Acura TLX. Other than its extremely low seating position, to which there is no reprieve, the NSX is very comfortable in Econ and Normal driving modes. It’s less so in Sport and Sport+.
The turbocharged hybrid powertrain transforms from high-revving and spirited in Sport and Sport+ to smooth and even-keeled in Econ and Comfort. The steering, while normally heavy, is lightweight and maneuverable in these modes. And the angular exterior design, shockingly, doesn't impact forward visibility as much as you might think.
The leather and Alcantara sport seats are supremely snug and well bolstered, but they aren't the pinnacle of comfort. They're a bit too firm for the average buttocks, and the suspension, even in the softest setup, is still stiff.
Despite the NSX's modern powertrain, its cabin technology is surprisingly behind the times. The NSX still sports Honda's outdated infotainment system, which is the same setup found in lesser Honda products, such as the Ridgeline pickup. The system is clunky and hard to use, with dated graphics and difficult controls. Plus, there's no volume knob. The only reprieve to the otherwise offensive infotainment system is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and the wonderful ELS audio system, all of which are now standard.
The gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain that’s highlighted by a high-revving turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 carries over. Acura engineers didn't fiddle with the powertrain, not that they needed to. The 500-horsepower engine revs all the way to 7,500 RPM and works with the car’s electric motors to rocket the NSX (with Launch Control) to 60 miles per hour in a manufacturer-estimated 2.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 191 mph. In short, the NSX is quick as hell.
The instant torque, super sticky summer tires, and Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system plant the driver's skull firmly into the headrests with a jab of the accelerator The sheer amount of mechanical grip, supported by the new Continental SportContact 6 tires, stiffer sway bars, and six-percent more rigidity all around, makes the NSX a surefooted supercar off the line. But it's equally grippy in the turns, too, with basically zero body roll; perfectly weighted and pin-point accurate steering that firms up nicely when pushed; and torque vectoring that pulls the car around corners by sending power seamlessly to all four corners.
Though the track is where the NSX excels, our time on-road made us believers in these aforementioned dynamic upgrades. There's more grip and more stiffness to pair with the lovably torquey hybrid powertrain. The NSX is technically sophisticated in all respects, and its endless, immediate power supply and phenomenal body control make it all the more addicting. The only reason the NSX doesn't get a perfect 10 in performance is due to the existence of its just-as-exceptional classmates (and believe us, there was plenty of arguing about this last point).
Safety typically still isn't a high priority for most supercar buyers – at least, not more so than performance and looks. But in 2019, it’s more of a requirement than ever before. The NSX doesn't tick all of the appropriate boxes in regards to safety – or any really. It has no advanced driver assist equipment – no automatic emergency braking, no adaptive cruise control, no lane-keep assist – nothing. At least its HID headlights can illuminate even the darkest roads, and visibility is good for the class.
The Acura NSX gets over 20 miles per gallon all around. It's officially rated by the EPA at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 22 on the highway, and 21 combined, making it one of the most efficient cars in the class (only the plug-in hybrid BMW i8 is better).
The most-efficient Audi R8 gets 14 mpg city, 25 highway, and 18 combined. The McLaren 570S gets 16 mpg city, 19 highway, and 23 combined. And the Nissan GT-R gets 16 mpg city, 22 highway, and 18 combined. Fuel efficiency, like safety, probably isn't a huge selling point, but the NSX's ability to average 21 miles per gallon only makes it better.