Back in 1995 I drove an Acura NSX for a week (review). The two-wheel drive car was $85,000 at the time and it was the best car that I ever drove, before or since (that includes a few Ferraris and also a Tesla X). The BLS calculator says that works out to $142,600 in 2018 mini-dollars. The latest and greatest NSX is about $160,000, so the price has gone up slightly, but now it is four-wheel drive and has a lot more capability.
Old: 270 hp and 3100 lbs. New: 573 hp and 3800 lbs.
I blundered into an Acura event at our local airport, complete with Honda Jet. It is tough to test a supercar in suburban Boston traffic at 4:30 pm on a weekday, but the acceleration, braking, and cornering were awe-inspiring. The Acura folks say that they spend $1 billion in engineering and tooling for this flagship product and it certainly feels like it. Compared to my memory of the 1995 car it is actually louder inside. The engineers seem to have made a choice to direct more of the engine sound into the car so that you’re reminded at all times that you’re driving a true beast. Speaking of engineers, if you despair of America’s inability to engineer and manufacture physical things, the NSX will cheer you up. It is mostly designed and exclusively built in Ohio, then exported to markets around the world.
Legroom is ample for a 6′ tall driver (me), unlike with a friend’s Aston Martin DB9. Except for having to bend to get in and out of a low vehicle, the NSX is comfortable and the visibility in all directions is good.
As with the original NSX, Car and Driver says the latest version offers slightly lower performance that the super-est of supercars, but with a much more compliant ride (I zoomed over some of our typical Massachusetts potholes and it didn’t feel like the car needed to go back to the dealer for a checkup) and a somewhat lower price. Honda/Acura are also not going to charge insane Ferrari-style prices for spare parts as needed (some of our flight school customers with exotic cars tell horror stories of minor bits costing $10,000+).
I was accompanied by a race track instructor, Clete from Seattle, whom Acura provided (if you can get in on one of these events, I highly recommend it!). He told me to hold the wheel at the 9 and 3 positions and adjust the steering wheel somewhat closer for better control…. as we drove to the local gas station to deal with the empty tank. I had Clete take some photos of me filling up the car and then posted a few images on Facebook under “Decided it was time to save the planet with a hybrid car. Still have to make the occasional trip to a gas station:” This is a great way to see how many of your friends think that you’re the kind of douche who would (a) spend the kids’ inheritance on a toy car, and (b) immediately post a bragging photo on Facebook regarding your $160,000 purchase. (Sadly, it seems that I am actually that douche, at least in the eyes of the people who know me best…)
Now that a Honda Accord has the performance of a dream sports car from my youth and simultaneously the roads are far more clogged than ever, I’m not sure why an NSX is necessary. It is a lot of fun, however, and I would be tempted to buy one if (1) we had a garage, and (2) we didn’t have multiple kids. (I think the car hasn’t been selling as well as hoped, so sometimes there are big discounts available off the $160k list price.)