For too long, we’ve been waiting impatiently for the Tesla Model X to arrive. The next-generation model is expected to take the company into new territory, help it appeal to a broader base of car buyers, and improve the fortunes of Silicon Valley’s favorite automotive startup. And with the Model X finally making its way to buyers sometime next month (fingers crossed), we can go back to tapping our foot for that other long-awaited game changer, the Acura NSX. While the near two-year wait for the Model X has been bad, we’ve all but gotten used to waiting for Acura’s newest supercar. After all, we have been doing it now for eight years.
Showing two preproduction cars at Pebble Beach earlier this month, Honda/Acura gave NSX fans some good and bad news about the car, which was expected to hit dealerships before the end of this year. The good news is that on top of the Valencia Red Pearl we’ve seen on earlier prototypes, the car will also be available in the lovely in Berlina Black, and Nouvelle Blue Pearl. The bad news? Thanks to a new set of powertrain issues, Honda has delayed the release of the car yet again, this time until sometime in the first quarter of 2016.
For those unfamiliar with the NSX, it was introduced in 1990 as Honda’s answer to the Italian supercar, and became a legend in its own right over a memorable 15 year production run. In 2007, Honda’s American CEO announced that an NSX successor would be V10 powered, and hit showrooms by 2010. But that project was a dead end; the car became the Honda HSV-010, a V8-powered track car that never left Japan. In 2011, a new new NSX was announced with an advanced hybrid V6 powerplant. It debuted at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, got a big-budget commercial starring Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno during Super Bowl XLVI, and appeared as Tony Stark’s ride in The Avengers. Since then, the biggest news we’ve gotten about the NSX is that a prototype caught on fire at the Nürburgring last year. Both drivers were unhurt, and hey, at least we know it can run under its own power!
Unsurprisingly, the NSX’s long gestation period has been its biggest enemy. When it was announced in 2007, its competitors were cars like the Porsche 911 and Ferrari F430 – targets not too far off from the original car’s. But things have changed a lot since then, and developments over the last eight years have sent Honda scrambling to keep its unreleased supercar relevant. When the next-gen NSX was announced, Tesla had yet to release its first Roadster, let alone a 762 horsepower electric sedan. Automotive freaks like Nissan’s 545 horsepower, twin-turbo, just-barely-civilized-enough-to-be-a-daily-driver GT-R, and Dodge’s 707 horsepower Challenger Hellcat were still unheard of, but today are available for well under the NSX’s $150,000 base price.
But what about its advanced hybrid technology? The McLaren P1, LaFerrari, and Porsche 918 all featured hybrid systems similar to Honda’s with spectacular results way back in 2013. Had the NSX come out back when it was expected to, its buck-and-a-half price tag would have made it seem like a technological marvel and a bargain – especially as these other cars easily topped $1 million. In 2016 however, it’s in danger of being perceived as a “me-too” product, seeing as the 918, LaFerrari and P1 are long sold-out, and BMW’s beautiful i8 arrived with a similar powertrain at a comparable price two years ago.
The years of delays wouldn’t be so bad if the NSX didn’t have so much potential. Thanks to it being just around the corner for so long, we know quite a bit about it. Like its predecessor, the new car will have a V6 mounted amidships, but this time, the engine will be helped by two turbochargers (a recent addition, and the cause of the latest delays), and three electric motors, which Honda says will produce over 550 horsepower. With its “Japanese Ferrari” styling, it’s still a striking car, even if its basic design was penned nearly five years ago now. In all, the NSX should be a great car, just like the original. But is anybody that isn’t a die-hard fan still around to be excited?
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