The DNA of the Acura Sports Car: How the NSX Supercar Inspires the Rest of the Lineup

A Girls Guide To Cars | The Dna Of The Acura Sports Car: How The Nsx Supercar Inspires The Rest Of The Lineup - I Got To Drive This One Too. The Thermal Orange Pearl Seems Just A Little Faster 1

There’s a bit of this $157,000 sports car in every car they build.

Back in the 1980’s Honda was on a mission: to define the cars of the future. The brand had long been known for highly reliable cars that were small, boxy and not necessarily fun or luxurious.

But deep in Honda’s development labs, and in the brand’s DNA, the cars that Americans had come to love started with a focus on performance and attention to detail.

Aching to bring this aspect to the customer, Honda introduced the world to a new brand: Acura. Created to produce and test performance cars and to introduce the world to a new luxury brand, Acura would compete with Mercedes-Benz and Porsche on world-famous race tracks and in the luxury rows of auto shows.

Further Reading: See how Acura redefined elegant capability in the RDX SUV

Acura Sports Car Has The Soul Of The Nsx Super Car

Acura NSX then and now, and the trunks that were designed to be big enough to hold a golf bag (or a stroller). Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Acura NSX: Born to Compete on the World Stage

The ultimate performance car in the line up was the NSX, a 6-cylinder sports car that was highly tuned to compete against the world’s best sports cars. Even though it had a smaller engine, it was finely tuned and built completely of aluminum, lighter and more agile to compete against Ferrari, but more reliable and at a much lower price.

The NSX—which stands for “New Sports eXperience”— is not just a super car, it’s the inspiration board for all Acuras in the lineup, from the entry-level ILX to the MDX Hybrid SUV. That’s because Acura takes all it learns in its research and testing facility in East Liberty, Ohio, and applies that knowledge and technology across the entire lineup. So when you buy an Acura, you’re getting a bit of the NSX under the hood, too.

Further Reading: The Acura TLX A Spec sedan adds a little spirit to your daily drive.

Acura Sports Car Has The Soul Of The Nsx Super Car

My drive instructor Keven and I. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Legacy Re-defined in the Modern and World-Class NSX

The NSX was hugely popular with sports car and racing enthusiasts for years, but development plateaued and for a while in the early 2000’s, NSX took a break. But needing to return return to its roots, five years ago Acura jumpstarted the NSX model to reinvigorate the brand. The reinvented NSX would be produced—by hand!— in a new factory in East Liberty where the models are designed and engineered.

All that knowledge doesn’t have to travel too far; 99% of Acuras are made in US. Some of the intelligence that is inspired by the NSX includes the “precision cockpit” design that puts all controls at the driver’s fingertips while keeping the driver’s eyes on the road.

Acura Sports Car Has The Soul Of The Nsx Super Car

The fleet of Acura ILX A Spec models we drove. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The 2019 Acura ILX: Your Starter Performance Car

Everyone has to start somewhere right? And for performance driving fans, the ILX is a great place. The price of this luxury car starts at just over $25,000 and ticks up to about $31,000 fully loaded. Acura has packed it with safety and tech features, like the Acura Watch active safety suite, which includes collision mitigation, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise and lane departure mitigation.

Acura Sports Car Has The Soul Of The Nsx Super Car

The front of the Acura ILX features the brand’s new signature diamond grille design and jewel headlights. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The ILX is a smallish four door sedan, similar to the BMW 3 series or the Lexus IS. But for its small size, it’s roomy and comfortable. The new ILX includes design details such as new sculpted exterior lines, jewel headlights, fog lights, new tail lights and a spoiler on the trunk. The A Spec version takes the design to a sportier place with 18” wheels, dark rims and a signature red leather interior.

The ILX also gives you a little rumble in sport mode; put it in sport and you can hear and feel the engine as you accelerate on the highway and cruise over country roads. Pop the paddle shifters into gear for even more control and a sportier experience. In normal mode the ILX was sublime, easy to drive and capable. But if you’re feeling a little frisky, sport mode is there to accommodate.

Further Reading: Every great car demands a great sound system, and Acura’s ELS doesn’t disappoint

Acura Sports Car Has The Soul Of The Nsx Super Car

The Acura MDX Hybrid 6 passenger SUV. Photo: Scotty Reiss

NSX in the MDX: Yes, the Super Car Leaves an Imprint on This SUV, too!

This was the most surprising thing I learned about the NSX: it’s a hybrid all wheel drive. Yes! OK, it’s clearly not about getting better fuel economy in a supercar. And it’s definitely not the car you want to take to pick up the kid from school when snow turns your roads into a slushy, icy mess.

Acura Sports Car Has The Soul Of The Nsx Super Car

The interior of the Acura MDX 6 passenger SUV. Photo: Scotty Reiss

NSX’s engineers actually use these technologies to get better performance out of the car on the track: The NSX has 3 hybrid motors that are designed to add more power to the wheels. And the AWD lets each wheel use that power to  respond to the curves in the road to get through each tight corner as fast as possible.

This technology is what Acura uses to build the larger hybrid engine in the MDX that gets better fuel economy and AWD that is completely capable on those snowy, messy days or even better, trekking across gravely, muddy hills and gullies (as every good SUV should!).

Further Reading: See what we loved about the Acura MDX SUV! 

Acura Sports Car Has The Soul Of The Nsx Super Car

The front cabin of the Acura ILX A Spec. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Acura ILX: The Gateway Car?

Acura calls the ILX the gateway to Acura because it’s accessible in both price and design. But I’d argue that the NSX is the real gateway: creating desire and developing driving dynamics that are deployed across the lineup, so every time you get behind the wheel of an Acura your experience is infused with a bit of the NSX, too.

Acura Sports Car Has The Soul Of The Nsx Super Car

The center console of the Acura ILX, which offers Apple Car Play. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Disclosure: I was Acura’s guest for a test drive of the NSX and the ILX; travel and accommodations were provided. All opinions are my own.

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss