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Acura NSX-T (2001)

SEE ALSO: Acura Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 88,100
     Price As Tested                                    $ 88,845
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.2 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 194 cid/3179 cc
     Horsepower                                   290 @ 7100 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               224 @ 5500 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   99.6"/71.3"/174.2"
     Transmission                               Six-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     3335 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)        215/45ZR16/ 245/40ZR17 high-performance
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                     Mid-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                         Two-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                  0 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/24/21
     0-60 MPH                                        5.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                         13.5 seconds @ 110.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           160 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

The rationale behind Acura's NSX was to offer an exotic sports car that could be driven daily. It had to be reliable, comfortable and, on demand, ferociously fast. Available as a fixed-roof coupe or as this week's open-top NSX-T, this test is one we look forward to each year.

OUTSIDE - The pointed shape of the NSX has been unchanged for ten years, but it is only now starting to wear thin. Careful attention went into sculpting its present shape to strike a compromise between lift, drag and stability. Its cab-forward design sets its slender A-pillars just behind the front wheels. The hood juts in a flat plane away from the cockpit for about two feet, then drops sharply to the low-slung nose. A rear spoiler is blended into the tail, while large side scoops feed fresh air into its engine bay. Removing the Targa-style top is easy: unlock two latches, lift the panel manually, then store it in special slots in the trunk. The forged aluminum alloy wheels are designed for massive strength and light weight.

INSIDE - With its wide windshield, low dashboard and thin roof pillars, the view from inside the NSX is panoramic. Acura purposely designed the NSX to be as comfortable as a sedan, so the control layout is ergonomically correct and blind spots are minimal. The seats are low and fit snugly, and away from the dashboard. Standard features include a powerful Bose-brand AM/FM/cassette stereo, power windows, door locks and mirrors, cruise control and tilt steering.

ON THE ROAD - Two power trains are available in the NSX. The first is a 3.0-liter twin-cam V6 that is fitted to the automatic transmission-equipped versions. It produces 252 horsepower and 210-lb-ft of torque. For six-speed manual-shift cars, the displacement of this engine is bumped to 3.2 liters and the output climbs to 290 horsepower and 224 lb-ft of torque. Both engines use variable valve timing and variable induction control, along with programmed fuel injection, coil-on-plug ignition and titanium connecting rods. Power delivery is smooth, although both engines need to be wound to high rpms to fully exploit their torque. In the stick-shift version, the "sweet song" is punctuated by a five-second zero-to-60 mph time, and a top speed of 160 mph. Our tester's short-throw six-speed manual transmission was a joy to slip between gears, and the shifter fits perfectly in the palm of the hand. To control wheelspin, the NSX uses standard-equipment traction control, which can be switched off with a button on the dash.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - A good deal of effort was expended to obtain sufficient stiffness from the all-aluminum chassis. Aluminum extrusions were used to strengthen the door sill areas, and both the front and rear suspensions are carried on alloy subframes, isolated from the cabin by rubber bushings. The independent suspension is all-alloy and consists of double wishbones front and rear, with coil-over, gas-filled shock absorbers and a stabilizer bar at each end. The power rack-and- pinion steering system is precise. Braking is achieved by the use of oversized four-wheel discs, ultra-stiff dual-piston brake calipers and a four-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS). With its mid-engined layout, Formula One-inspired suspension, steering and powertrain, one might expect the NSX to be tricky to drive but Acura designed it to be user-friendly and this concept has been successfully improved on for a decade.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, traction control, ABS, side-impact door beams and seat belt pre-tensioners are standard.

OPTIONS - There were no options on our test vehicle.