Tech’splaining: 2019 Acura NSX Hybrid System

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Hybrids aren’t normally associated with enthusiast cars; in fact, some are downright unpleasant to drive compared to a gas-only version of the same vehicle. Common complaints are lackluster acceleration and ponderous CVTs (continuously variable transmissions). However, in recent years, some of the coolest supercars to hit the market are actually hybrids, like the Porsche 918 and the current generation Acura NSX.

  • The Acura NSX, known as the Honda NSX in the most of the world, redefined the supercar when it launched in 1990.
  • The second generation NSX, launched in 2016, continued the tradition of providing supercar performance mixed with efficiency and daily-driving usability.
  • The Powertrain consists of a gasoline twin-turbo V6, a single electric motor in the back and two electric motors in front.
  • The hybrid system not only allows for greater fuel-efficiency and a full-electric mode, it’s also used for torque-vectoring to improve handling.

History of NSX

NSX stands for, “New Sportscar Unknown world”, which is a bit confusing and clunky as names go.  What is not clunky is the car itself: the NSX was the first Acura designed to turn heads and sit fender-to-fender with the likes of Porsches and Ferraris.

The first generation was in production from 1990 – 2005, and during that time it had several facelifts and updates. The NSX design was inspired by fighter jets, leading to not only an aggressive aesthetic, but with aerodynamics making it a faster more efficient supercar. It was also the world’s first mass-produced car to feature an aluminum semi-monocoque using a process called extrusion, for the pieces of the frame. The new use of the new technology allows greater weight savings while increasing performance and fuel economy. The focus on efficiency is one the things that really set the car apart from other exotics in that era. The NSX was truly ahead of its time and offered of glimpse of what is commonplace today.

When Acura set out designing its supercar, they wanted it to be elegant and dynamic, which is why they created a vehicle with low mass and a high power-to-weight ratio.  This platform allowed them to build something that was precise and performance-orientated, but not as impractical as many other supercars are. Over the years, the NSX exemplified Acura’s high standards of quality, durability and day-to-day reliability without compromising performance, another attitude completely foreign to exotics up until then.

“From the beginning, Acura has always been about performance,” said Acura NSX Global Development Leader Ted Klaus. “Not only speed or power, but elegantly designed and engineered products that stir the soul and harness innovative technology on a foundation of industry-leading quality and reliability.”

What Makes The NSX Unique

When Acura decided to launch the second-generation NSX in 2016, it built upon the legendary NSX philosophy of using latest technology for efficiency coupled with every-day usability, all without sacrificing performance.

Since the NSX is a hybrid, it is relatively efficient for a sports car, getting an impressive 21 MPG city and 22 MPG highway. It can also run in all-electric silent mode around town if you prefer not to wake up the neighbors.

The NSX features AWD (all-wheel drive)  but it’s not like the system you’d find in your family SUV.  Acura has dubbed this unique system “Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive”, it allows the vehicle to use electrification to its advantage, especially when it comes to handling.

The system utilizes electric motors to assist with acceleration, braking, and cornering, as well as electrically-powered torque vectoring, all provided by the front-mounted twin-motor unit. With the integration of electrified torque vectoring, the NSX takes Acura’s SH-AWD to a new level.

What Powers The NSX

Powering the NSX is a complex task. The gas-burning portion of the powertrain consists of a twin-turbocharged mid‑mounted V6 engine, coupled to an 9-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The direct-drive motor-unit connected to the V6 provides more thrust but also operates as a generator. during normal driving it maintains a state of charge for the hybrid batteries based on both the driving mode selected and what the car’s computer deems necessary. The main motor is supplemented by a front-mounted twin-motor unit, containing two smaller electric motors. These motors are able to independently drive the left and right front wheels, providing increased forward acceleration and continuously varying torque, both positive and negative, to the front wheels.  Varying torque across the front-axle improves agility and responsiveness. It is true torque vectoring, available at any speed in both on-throttle and off-throttle situations.

This system is good for a healthy 573 hp and 476 lb-ft of torque, able to launch the 3,800-pound NSX from 0-60 in just 3.1 seconds.

Final Thoughts

The 2019 Acura NSX is a great example of the brand’s racing heritage, passed down from the previous generation of NSX vehicles. In keeping with that tradition, the NSX features cutting edge powertrain technology. The best part is, the NSX is relatively affordable, at least as supercars go, starting at a reasonable $159,300 before options.

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