As Acura rolls the most powerful version of its supercar down pit lane, the sun setting over Daytona International Speedway’s towering grandstands says it all. This is the end for the NSX as we’ve come to know it. But not before Honda’s Performance division turned some screws to create the NSX Type S, the first NSX to wear the performance moniker in North America.
Daytona’s high banks are the ideal place to exploit the claimed 191-mph top speed of Acura’s $171,495 NSX Type S. Its boosted 3.5-liter V-6 now produces 520 horsepower, a 20-hp bump courtesy of twin turbochargers shared with the NSX GT3 Evo race car. They deliver up to 16.1 psi of boost (0.9 more than previously available), and more fuel is squirted into the cylinders. Additional thrust comes from three electric motors—two that drive the front axle and a third sandwiched between the engine and the nine-speed dual-clutch automatic. Each component of the hybrid powertrain has received software changes, and the amount of usable energy from the roughly 1.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack has been increased. With all the gadgets working in concert, the Type S has a combined output of 600 horsepower and 492 pound-feet, gains of 27 and 16, respectively. We expect the sprint to 60 mph to take 2.7 seconds.
Our relaxed lead-follow lap around Daytona’s iconic road course didn’t allow for maximum speed. But the long straight exiting Speedway Turn 4 provides time to appreciate the NSX for what we’ve always loved about it—comfortable seats that’ll accommodate all body types, an airy cabin, and superb visibility as we take in Daytona under the night lights. Diving down off the tri-oval into the Turn 1 braking zone, the brake-by-wire system doesn’t exhibit any of the weird springy and spongey tendencies that too often plague hybrid systems. The pedal stays firm as the optional 15.0-inch front and 14.2-inch carbon-ceramic rotors do their thing.
To complement the newfound power, Acura engineers recalibrated the software of the dual-clutch automatic. Commands from the large shift paddles are now delivered to the transmission 50 percent quicker, and under hard braking the downshifts are more aggressive. Pull on the downshift paddle for 0.6 second, and the gearbox automatically shifts to the lowest possible gear.
Turning into International Horseshoe, the inputs from the steering wheel are instantaneously transmitted to the custom-developed Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tires as they bite into the track surface. A change in offset to the 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels increases the front and rear track by 0.4 and 0.8 inch, respectively. The NSX stays flat under lateral loads, and the revised torque-vectoring system provided the front drive motors keeps the Type S on a string through the apex. The recalibrated magnetorheological dampers, even in their firmest setting, shrug off the washboard curbing when exiting corners.
Aesthetically, the new Type S has more curb appeal. A revised front fascia with exposed carbon fiber not only makes the Type S more distinctive but also provides more cooling to the heat exchangers tucked behind it and improves the airflow to the rear-mounted intercoolers. Out back, a GT3-inspired carbon-fiber diffuser improves the airflow underneath the car, and a carbon-fiber spoiler graces the edge of the decklid.
Our limited time behind the wheel of the Type S wasn’t enough to determine if the changes to the second-generation supercar make for a meaningful improvement over the lesser version, but Acura claims they’re good for a 2.0-second gain around the Suzuka race circuit. We’ll soon get our hands on one to test and look forward to running the Type S at Virginia International Raceway in the fall.
If you haven’t ordered your Type S already, you’re too late. All 300 destined for North America (of the 350 that will be sold globally) have been spoken for. Now we wait for the sun to rise on the third-generation coupe. Hopefully it won’t take another 12 years.
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