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2018 Acura NSX Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Acura NSX was new.


Performance: 9.1

Performance is outstanding in the 2018 Acura NSX. Its refined hybrid powertrain components work well together to grant brisk acceleration whether you're launching from a stop or mashing the throttle on the highway. Fuel economy is about average, with the electric motors on hand to improve performance not gas mileage.

  • "Handling is sharp, steering is predictable and connected, and acceleration is up there with the best. … It's also amazing to see how Acura has used electric power to improve the car rather than just give it some meaningless 'green' designation. Indeed, electric motors that drive the front wheels can be easily felt, which gives the NSX extra juice from a stop and additional capabilities around the corners." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "Comfortable, quick, responsive and flat-out fun, the Acura NSX lives up to its Precision Crafted Performance design brief on every level." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "In street driving, the NSX becomes a pussycat. Performance is there if you need it, but when you don't, you just cruise around town in a car that looks completely out of place — a sleek, low, supercar among the ordinary." -- USA Today (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The complex hybrid powertrain in the 2018 NSX starts with a mid-mounted 3.5-liter V6 engine. Two electric motors are located at the front of the car, while a third electric motor is in the rear; this is all tied to a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. With its combined output of 573 horsepower, the NSX is one of the most powerful base models in the luxury sports car class. Fuel economy is so-so, at 21 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.

The NSX doesn't offer a brutish engine with snarly exhaust, but triumphs with a polished powertrain that grants (essentially) instantaneous acceleration. The result is a generous amount of straight-line speed, but for fans of sports cars like the Nissan GT-R, this Acura may feel too tame, despite its top speed of 191 mph. The polished transmission gratifies with expertly timed shifts.

  • "It isn't the speed of the 2018 Acura NSX that impresses. Oh, sure, it's quick. Let it eat and the SH-AWD system does its thing, all four massive Michelins claw at the asphalt and you're past 60 mph in about three seconds, your head pinned to the seat as the supercar's 9-speed dual-clutch automatic snatches another gear and then another. Hold your foot down and it'll crest 190 mph." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Acceleration was immediate with the electric motors, but not brutal, even with launch control engaged. It doesn't scream like its Italian counterparts or roar like the Americans, the V6 just growls like a dog with its mouth held shut. When the windows are up you hear some turbo whoosh and blow-off, but the exhaust never drones." -- Autoweek (2017)
  • "Rocketing perfectly describes the NSX's uninterrupted acceleration when the gas engine and electric motors are pushing the NSX flat-out. Acceleration lag is non-existent thanks to the electric motors filling in the dull spots before the twin-turbochargers sing their song. Launch control takes advantage of the hybrid system in the best way, initially launching the car with the instantaneous torque of the electric motors before the 500-hp gas engine pushes you the rest of the way, clicking off lightning-quick gear changes. There's little falloff in seat-of-the-pants acceleration as the speed increases." -- Cars.com (2017)

Handling and Braking

The NSX is poised and refined, with easy-to-approach dynamics that make you look like a well-seasoned driver, no matter your experience level. The Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, also known as Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, is standard in every model. A similar system is available in Acura models like the RLX. The NSX also features torque vectoring, which adjusts the speed of the wheels through corners to improve handling and grip. Selectable driving modes let you tailor the car to suit your comfort preferences.

  • "… man can it corner, thanks to Active Torque Vectoring that independently applies power or braking forces to each front wheel to further enhance grip. And the Acura's excellent mechanical/regenerative braking system feels great and is extremely positive. But the best part, the part that blows our minds is the civility and the comfort. The NSX is a pussycat in traffic and in the tight confines of the city." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "This stealth nature was very much the engineers' goal. The NSX adheres to the classic 'smooth is fast' racing mantra. The quicksilver transmission, magnetic shocks, and sweetly-tuned chassis work overtime so as to never unsettle the car or its pilot." -- Automobile Magazine (2017)
  • "This is a precise, fast car that drives smaller and lighter than its curb weight suggests. The NSX is also a car that flatters its driver, whether a neophyte or an experienced shoe. Its tenacious traction as you power out of a corner as (sic) almost as surprising as the resolute faithfulness with which the NSX's nose follows the driver's steering input. In other words, the NSX goes exactly where you point it, and it exits corners as though attached to a centrifuge." -- Edmunds (2017)

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