As instructed I’m doing my damndest to straighten out Daytona’s legendary – and recently renamed – Bus Stop chicane. Grab all of the curb at Turn 10 entering the complex so I can stay wide to the left, and set up an ideal exit with all four wheels smashing the blue and yellow striped apron (and maybe an inch of dirt, if I’m honest).
Get it right and you’re rolling onto the throttle into the big sweeping bank of Turn 12, the incline catching you just as the 2022 Acura NSX Type S delivers all 600 horsepower to each corner, with the combined engine/exhaust note moving from a thrum to a howl even inside my helmet. Seamless, sweet, addicting, and over almost before I know it.
Driving the only NSX Type S ever to be sold outside of Japan, and turning my first wheels on one of the world’s most historic race tracks is a rush. But trying to get a full vehicle evaluation in the process isn’t easy. Less than three laps – out from the pits, one flying full lap, and then pitting again – isn’t quite enough for me to compose sentences on the nuances of the supercar’s ride, handling, or power delivery.
Getting a ride in the final, ecstatic version of a generational supercar is good work if you can get it, even if that means you only get a few twirls around the track to sort out the words. The good news, I guess, is that all 350 examples of the Type S are already spoken for, so I might as well concentrate on having some fun while I’m here.
Measuring The Mods
Only Porsche can rival Acura's parent Honda in its predisposition for iterative, rather than dramatic, performance enhancements. And in the case of a dauntingly complex and tightly packaged machine like the NSX, it takes a very large number of very small changes to add up to Type S–appropriate performance.
Engineers touched nearly every piece of the hybrid powertrain to find performance gains. The twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 gets boost pressure cranked up by 5.6 percent, higher capacity fuel injectors, and more efficient intercoolers to net out gains of 20 horsepower and 36 pound-feet of torque (520 hp and 442 lb-ft from the engine alone).
Engineers touched nearly every piece of the hybrid powertrain to find performance gains.
The battery-electric system has also been breathed on – most significantly with a 20 percent increase in total battery capacity from the Intelligent Power Unit and a lower drive ratio for the front-mounted Twin Motor Unit. Combined with software changes to the rear-mounted Direct Drive Motor and the centrally located, hybrid-system managing Power Drive Unit (deep breath), the total system output now stands at 600 hp and 492 lb-ft.
In the end what I’m piloting on the Daytona banking is the most powerful production Acura of all time – the “quickest and fastest” too, though the brand only lists the 0-60 time as “under 3.0 seconds” and the top speed is a tie with the non-Type S NSX at 191 miles per hour. Still, it’s fast.
The confines of a big track, especially a super speedway, make it hard to judge the relative feeling of acceleration. My whole, short stint around Daytona is in a lead-follow configuration – me tracking immediately behind Honda factory driver (and Dinner With Racers podcaster) Ryan Eversley and trying not to get crossed up.
We’re essentially always rolling at a mad pace, so a feeling of initial acceleration blurs into oblivion, but the sense of speed while moving up the ladder from 100 mph is jaw dropping. Kickdown from the 9-speed dual-clutch gearbox after a pulled paddle is immediate, and engine response up to the 7,500-rpm redline is equally rapid.
Stopping, Turning, And Other Race Car Duties
Even more impressive (as is often the case with track cars) are the carbon-ceramic brakes that come as part of the $13,000 Lightweight package. With discs measuring 15.0 inches in front and 14.2 inches at the back, the pricey stoppers hauled me down from triple digit speeds with exceptional responsiveness and with a firm, progressive pedal feel. I didn’t even lock ‘em up going into Turn 1, which is more than I can say for some of the pros out there on race day. (It’s possible they were trying harder than me?)
Acura’s revised calibrations for steering feel and effort seem to result in a more substantial product, too. Earlier versions of the second-generation NSX were dragged for a lack of feedback, which isn’t at all the case as I charge around the speedway. Information about grip levels from the specially engineered Pirelli P-Zero tires (245 sections in front, 305 in the rear) is telegraphed to the wheel, which is handy in a car with this much power.
The world’s biggest grain of salt goes with my steering impressions, of course, as the experience may prove vastly different in the less racey drive modes and in more normal circumstances.
Music And Modes
The work done to modulate the steering is matched by audio tuning made to achieve this wail of engine and exhaust noise. The V6 sounds gnarly (in a good way), especially when I’m brave enough to get close to the wall on the banking. There, some of the riotous sound waves ricochet back at my helmeted head, causing a puff of endorphins in my brain and immediate transportation to my happy place.
Acura touts a “more emotional sound” for the NSX Type S when compared with the standard car, but I think it’s clearer just to call it “louder” and/or “gloriouser.” Thankfully, if you’re one of the 300 lucky Americans to eventually own a Type S, there’s still an all-EV quiet mode that won’t wake the babies when you pull out of the garage. Truly the daily driver supercar.
The V6 sounds gnarly (in a good way), especially when I’m brave enough to get close to the wall on the banking.
In fact, while the Type S retains the four driving modes found on the lesser NSX, I’m told that the steps between Quiet, Sport, Sport Plus, and Track have widened pretty dramatically. That’s “I’m told” and not “I know” because I didn’t have any time to explore the modes in this limited test – I can only report that Track mode seems appropriately named.
Until I get more time to experience Type S drive modes in the real world, let me at least give an abbreviated version of what’s modulated in each setting. There’s a handy chart for breaking down the complex interplay of modal variation, in fact (If only my personal life could be so well organized).
|System Operation||Quiet||Sport||Sport Plus||Track|
|Drive Character||Max EV/Econ||Linear Response||Max Response||Max Accel|
|Shift Map||Max 4,000 RPM||Balanced||Dynamic||Circuit Driving|
|EV/Idle Stop||Available||Available||Not Available||Not Available|
|Energy Management||Balanced Sport/Econ||Balanced Sport/Econ||Performance Priority||Max Accel|
|Braking||Easy Modulation||Easy Modulation||Easy Modulation||Max Response|
|Steering||Sport||Sport||Increased Feedback||Increased Feedback|
|Stability/Handling||Nimble||Nimble||Increased Agility||Max Performance|
|Dampers||Secure/Stable||Secure/Stable||Increased Agility||Max Performance|
|Sound||Quiet||Sport||Max Emotion||Driver Feedback|
Sharper, Inside And Out
The second generation NSX never suffered from a lack of pretty. The striking shape has aroused attention ever since it hit public roads. But the Type S treatment takes the visual drama to a moodier and meaner place.
As is the case with many performance variants, attention paid to cleaning up air flow and maximizing cooling nets both engineering gains and visual appeal. The enlarged intake openings on the revised front fascia, combined with a jutting carbon fiber lip spoiler, give the NSX Type S a sexy scowl. And there’s a similar story in back, where the GT3-inspired carbon fiber rear diffuser looks absolutely sinister.
Further lightweight carbon parts (side skirts and roof) along with Type S-specific forged wheels all help to reduce the car’s curb weight by 58 pounds.
Those dark-finished rollers can be had in your choice of matte or a gloss finish. They tie in beautifully with accent pieces like gloss black Acura badges, mirror caps, and door handles, dark chrome exhaust tips, and smoked taillamps.
Pair all of those blacked-out trim bits with the limited (70 examples, all spoken for), $6,000 Gotham Gray Matte paint, and you’ve got my idea of the ideal NSX. Sure, the Internet wants this car to be Indy Yellow or Casino White all of the time, but the Internet is wrong.
The car I drove had the full leather interior (available in a boring black option and a try-hard red). But the chairs trimmed in leather and Alcantara look a lot racier and are $1,000 cheaper, to boot. Not that it matters, for a car that’s already sold out, right?
With a base price of $169,500 and the ability to get north of $180,000 pretty quickly, the NSX Type S would present a great pocket of value when compared with similarly horsed, more expensive sports cars like the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Audi R8 V10 Performance. Those comparisons will crop up for wealthy driving enthusiasts in the pre-owned space, should any NSX ticket holder be willing to give up their limited-edition trophy car.
I wouldn’t hold my breath. Whether you drive the NSX Type S at Daytona International Speedway or just cruise Daytona Beach, this very special version of the beloved nameplate is worth holding on to.
Gallery: 2022 Acura NSX Type S: First Drive
2022 Acura NSX Type S