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The first-generation Acura NSX was an iconic sports car that debuted in the early 90s. During its time, it took on more expensive exotics like Ferrari, and it was ahead of its time regarding technological advancements and handling. However, while the Acura NSX existed here, the Honda NSX existed in Japan. Does that mean they are the same car?

The differences between the Honda and Acura NSX are few

A head-on view of the 1991 Acura NSX driving down a road
1991 Acura NSX | Acura

In short, the Honda NSX and Acura NSX are the same cars. The main difference between them is that one has a Honda badge while the other has an Acura badge. The NSX that wore the Honda badge was built in and for the Japanese and European markets and was only produced as a right-hand-drive vehicle. 

On the other hand, the Acura NSX was produced for the U.S. market, which is the only country where the luxury brand exists. Honda created the Acura luxury division in the mid-80s, and the NSX was its flagship supercar when it debuted in 1990.

Aside from the driver configuration and badges, the only main difference between the Acura and Honda NSX is the slight re-mapping of the Honda’s ECU. Otherwise, the cars are identical.

Garage Dreams reports that both cars were manufactured at the Takanezawa plant in Tochigi, Japan, from 1990 to 2004, followed by the Suzuka R&D plant from 2004 to 2005.

What engine does the Honda NSX have?

1991 Acura NSX engine
1991 Acura NSX engine | Acura

The original Honda NSX, produced from 1991 to 2005, was equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 engine. Dubbed the C30A, this high-revving V6 produced 270 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. No, that’s not a lot of horsepower by today’s standards. Especially considering the 2023 Honda Accord puts out more power and gets far better fuel efficiency, but we digress. Also, that engine was mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

Fortunately, Honda decided to increase the car’s displacement in 1997 by equipping the popular NSX with a 3.2-liter V6. This time, the engine was given the C32B moniker, producing 290 hp and 224 lb-ft of torque. With this new engine, the NSX could zip up to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.8 seconds and rocket down the quarter-mile in only 13.3 seconds. According to MotorTrend’s testing, the more powerful NSX was as quick as the Chevy Corvette at the time.

Along with the larger engine came an extra gear. The C32B could be mated to either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Additionally, this engine was found in the U.S.-spec Acura NSX as well.

The Honda NSX had a couple of special editions

A Honda NSX Type R
Honda NSX Type R | Wikimedia Commons

Another difference between the Japanese Honda NSX and the model that we got stateside was the Type S and Type R variants. In Japan, Honda released the NSX Type S, which featured a stiffer suspension, a titanium shift knob, a MOMO Zagato-style steering wheel, and a lighter rear spoiler. The Type S was also lighter than the standard-issue one, featuring a single-pane rear glass, a manual rack and pinion steering setup, and a lightweight battery.

The NSX Type R underwent the same type of weight reduction with the inclusion of lightweight wheels and lighter Recaro bucket seats. Its suspension was also much firmer for better handling, and its engine was hand-built with lighter internals.

As for power outputs, both of these special editions put out the same 290 hp rating as the regular NSX. Clearly, their specialness lay in the different parts used to build them.

How much does a first-generation Acura or Honda NSX cost?

A view of the 1991 Acura NSX's cockpit
1991 Acura NSX | Acura

If you’re looking to purchase a first-generation Acura NSX, be prepared to spend your top dollar. A recent nationwide search on CarGurus reveals that first-generation NSXs sell for anywhere between $58,000 and $199,000, depending on the car’s location and mileage.

Importing a right-hand-drive Honda NSX model from Japan won’t save you any money either. After checking around with JDM importers across the country, we found that most JDM Honda NSXs sell for around $100,000 and sometimes as low as $80,000 if you’re lucky.

Ultimately, the first-generation NSX is a true gem in the automotive world, whether it wears a Honda badge or an Acura one.