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Old 08-02-2003, 11:13 PM   #1
NSX
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Post Acura NSX Newspaper Articles

Some articles from The Toronto Star:

Quote:
NSX shows itself a true sports car
Handling, pick-up leave drivers smiling


On the road, the Acura commands attention


Acura's NSX has had 10 years to prove itself, so what do its owners think?

It took a while to track a few down, because there aren't many.

Mark Rodrigues of California, a two-time Formula Mazda Champion and current factory team manager, is one of the rare owners of the 2003 NSX model. When asked why that particular car, he gladly answered: "It has so many great facets it is hard to put into one line."

What he has done to his car implies that he has picked up the ball where Acura dropped it, by improving its handling and dynamics. "I have added a lowering kit and adjustable shocks this small change really woke up the car and unless I encounter a Champ Car driver on Mulholland (Mulholland Dr. in Los Angeles) I have everybody beat!"

Doug Hayashi, owner and former NSX racer from Newport Coast, Calif., put it this way: "The Acura NSX is a true exotic, but without the maintenance hassles that are sometimes attributed to high-end sports cars.

"The ergonomics of the seating position, shifter and short front hood make it seem like you are in a race car for the street," he added. "Excellent handling makes it exciting to drive both on the street and at the racetrack."

But this was how he described his 1992 NSX . Would he buy a 2003?

"The 2003 NSX is nice, but, uh ... Acura has not kept up with the horsepower and styling wars," he said. "I can't say that I would buy an NSX today, given the choices that are available.

"You cannot make the NSX sound like a Ferrari F355 or 360," said Hayashi. "Believe me, I have seen 20 different variations of NSX muffler systems that have tried to emulate the wail of a Ferrari, and it can't be done."

What would change his mind? "If Acura would come out with a 400-horsepower NSX with big brakes and that sounds like an F355, then it would be a contender against the other exotics in that price range," he said.

With this in mind, I spent a couple of days with the 2003 NSX to see whether indeed it is a modern-day sports car.

I asked myself what the true definition of the term "sports car" is, and whether it has changed over the years. Is it the speed, handling and performance of a vehicle on the track or on the road? Is it the horsepower or torque? The sight, sound and smell of the car? Is it the large price tag they all seem to have?

I come from the old school of sports car enthusiasts: seems the harder the car is to drive, the more it is a true sports car. But is this just because I can't grasp all the new technology that has evolved in the automotive industry? How can anything be fun to drive if beads of sweat and sore muscles are not the aftermath of a quick highway jaunt?

I gazed at the 2003 Acura NSX. It had all the makings of a real sports car: 290 hp in a V6, 24-valve DOHC VTEC engine that produced 224 lb.-ft. of torque. It's a stunning metallic blue colour with matching soft leather interior oh so sleek.

The interior proved fairly accessible. When I slid into the driver's seat, I was remarkably comfortable. The seats hugged my contour, a feature I welcome during high-speed cornering.

As for start-up, I was sorely disappointed in the lack of a growl. I caught myself straining to hear in traffic if the engine was indeed running.

But my disappointment turned to joy as the engine came to life at higher rpm a high-pitched purr at 5000, and a redline at 8000. With no whine of a turbo or supercharger, it wasn't the sound of the car that grabbed the attention of the crowd it was its looks, with most of those enthralled being in the 16-to-25 age group.

Available in both a four-speed automatic and a six-speed manual, the car can be as utilitarian as a Honda when running errands in city traffic. Cockpit space is limited, yet the golf bag shaped trunk, though humourous, is ample compared to its competition. But on the open road, its true nature is revealed this is no Civic.

Acceleration has always been a strong point for the NSX even at low rpms the car has superb pick-up. Again and again I catch myself looking at the speedometer, shocked to see the speed at which I am travelling. Why does it feel so slow when I am indeed driving at more than the officer would allow? It must be the exquisite handling this car has, which is what it has been famous for since its birth. The NSX shifts are short and precise, pedal placements making footwork virtually effortless.

Alex Zanardi, CART racing champion in 1997 and 1998, put it best: "What I like most about the NSX is its balance," he said. "It's got tremendous performance potential but at the same time, it doesn't exact a penalty in comfort and convenience."

On the highway I find myself in the middle of a group of highly accessorized Hondas. Even without decals and picnic-table-style wings, I fit in. They slow down and circle me like prey. Until the thumbs-up signal is given and they roar off with their coffee can exhausts.

I wonder if any of them remember Ayrton Senna and his McLaren-Honda. It was during the design and early production phases of this car that he won three F1 drivers' championships and his Honda-powered McLaren won four constructors' championships.

Soichiro Honda took his finest engineers and asked them to build a super car a sports car to compete with the likes of the Ferrari 348, Porsche 911, Lotus Esprit and Corvette. A true race fan himself, Honda knew that much that can be learned on the track can aid in the development of a sports car. In keeping with what a racing engine should be, the block, heads and pistons of the NSX are made of aluminum alloys for lightweight durability. The craftsmanship of this car is in true Japanese spirit, yet what has changed since the car's inception in late 1990?

I ask Mark Rodrigues if he believes the NSX is a true sports car. "Yes! It is a true driver's car. I think the 10-plus years of this design proves that. With the feedback that the car gives back, it makes the driver feel like he or she is a better driver than they actually are."

Even after more than 10 years of production he adds: "There isn't a better gear box out there."

But the question remains: Is the Acura NSX the most expensive automotive export from Japan worth its $140,000 price tag?

As I stepped out of the car with my hair in place, makeup intact and no sign of sweat or strain, I realized my definition of a sports car may be harsh.

Although it lacks the smell of fine Italian leather, the growl of a Porsche Turbo and the history of many other true exotics, the NSX still leaves me with a smile on my face.

But I'll still wait for the 50 per cent off sale before I park it in my driveway.
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Con...=1059648030757

Quote:
NSX acts its age
Acura sports car shows '90s origins but remains great driving experience


So why have NSX sales not kept pace with its mo


Acura sold just a handful of NSXs last year a literal handful.

In 2002, the company sold only five copies of one of the coolest-looking, best-driving cars on the road today. That's five copies of the car that put the fright into Ferrari and Porsche when it was first introduced; five copies of the car that Gordon Murray used as the benchmark for shifter feel when he started to design the million-dollar McLaren F1; and five copies of the $140,000 car that, more than 10 years after its introduction, is still one of the closest ways you can get to driving an F1 car on the road (without actually driving an F1 car on the road).

Compare the NSX sales figures with the number of 911s that Porsche managed to sell last year: 316. Many of those had a sticker price approaching that of the NSX, and 34 of the Porsches were 911 Turbos priced at more than $170,000.

Yet the NSX is wonderful. You sit so low, behind such a panoramic windshield, that when you're moving, it always feels as if you're going faster than you actually are, the world unravelling in front of you in glorious widescreen with motion blur.

Roll down the windows or pop the targa top and every tunnel becomes an opportunity to live out your Monaco Grand Prix fantasies: the snarling VTEC engine sound reverberating off the walls, the steering writhing like a race car's in your hands, the wind whipping against your head making you wonder if it'd be better if you had a helmet on. Not to mention a radio link to the pits. And a supermodel girlfriend.

Right.

So why, in a time when the streets seem to be littered with tarted-up 911s and Tubi-exhausted Ferraris, when the Yorkville Grand Prix seems as rich as it has ever been, is the NSX not going like gangbusters?

The short answer is that, no matter how good it is, it's still a Honda (sorry, Acura). And no matter how good you are, that just isn't going to cut it among the image-conscious poseurs who populate the stratospheric segment of the super-sports car market.

It's at least partly understandable. To buy a really fast car and actually drive really fast these days is pretty senseless, unless you're making regular appearances at track days. And despite "just" 290 horses from its VTEC 3.2-litre V6, the NSX does indeed qualify as really fast.

Road conditions and speed enforcement and the human instinct for self-preservation pretty much obviate the possibility of exploiting a car's full capabilities on public roads, no matter how good a driver sits behind the wheel.

So most people end up buying supercars for their more symbolic attributes: power, performance, looks and panache, and how the merest suggestion of ultra-power and ultra-speed is enough to get pedestrians' heads bobbing in envy.

Against hallowed marques like Ferrari and Porsche, Acura simply doesn't yet have that sort of cachet.

That's too bad, because the NSX is still very much a first-tier sports car, no matter what its age or provenance.

While its basic design may be looking a bit dated these days (bubbly headlights, new front spoiler, and new rear design notwithstanding), that's only because it was so right in the first place: low, low seating position, panoramic glass, mid-engine handling balance and savagely deployed lashings of naturally aspirated V6 power.

True, its cabin looks very late-'80s with its skinny/shiny column stalks, lack of CD player and huge air-bag cover on the steering wheel, but it's also better screwed-together than anything the Italians, or even most of the Germans, are able to do even now. The ergonomics the NSX's trump card compared to Ferraris with their scattershot control placement and the ridiculous contortions required to merely to get into are simply superb.

Interestingly enough, had they branded the NSX as a Honda, it may have done better for itself. These days, car enthusiasts are well acquainted with the performance potential that the square H represents. It's not only about the souped-up cars that make up the Civic nation, but also about Ayrton Senna and Jacques Villeneuve and years of dominance on the CART circuit. Honda's name has a resonance that, for whatever reason mostly because I just think it hasn't been around long enough Acura doesn't yet possess.

They are working on this as much as they can, of course. The NSX now has bigger wheels and flashy finishes (check out the electric blue on blue leather of our test car, which is as trendy as trendy gets), and some minor trim revisions were introduced in 2003.

But judged against other aspirational F1 cars like Ferrari's 360 Modena, it is decidedly down on the high-tech, high-touch factor. There is no sequential transmission, no launch control, no stability program (although there is, thank heavens, traction control). The brakes, though they work fine, don't have sexy Brembo monoblock calipers, nor are the exhaust pipes as huge as is fashionable these days.

Then again, at $140,000, the NSX is less than half the price of a Modena, and as a driving experience, is way more than half the car, making you wonder how much of your money for the Ferrari is going straight toward the badge and how much is going into those admittedly wonderful mechanicals.

It's a bittersweet thought: seeing how well the NSX competes at its age (which is ancient in car years) makes you wonder what Honda would be capable of if it decided to do another NSX, to apply itself the way it did when it created this car, which was a world-beater in its day.

Honda's not doing so well in F1 these days BAR and Villeneuve (who I still cheer for) languish near the bottom of the standings, dogged by bad luck and mechanical failures. It's a long way from the dominance they showed in the early '90s, a dominance that they also showed with their F1-inspired road car.

Acura's on a determined push to take its brand into the premier league the new TSX and the upcoming TL both signal not only a new styling direction for the company, but also a focus on driving dynamics, high technology and sharp styling. Imagine what the new Acura could do if it was given the assignment to do a new NSX.
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Con...=1059648030959


I especially like the 2nd article.
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Old 08-04-2003, 03:23 AM   #2
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great articles.. i love reading about the nsx.. what an awesome car.. i truely do love that car...
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Old 08-04-2003, 03:32 AM   #3
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Acura could make the NSX be a big contender again if they do 4 things

1: Drop the price tag at least 20-25,000 dollars

2: Raise the HP to 325-350, tq to 300

3: Make it AWD.

4: Redesign it, make it a bit more aggressive looking, with sleeker, strong lines



If they could do that, I would find a way to get one.


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Old 08-04-2003, 05:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by SniperX13
Acura could make the NSX be a big contender again if they do 4 things

1: Drop the price tag at least 20-25,000 dollars
You can get some older version reasonably priced.

Quote:
Originally posted by SniperX13
2: Raise the HP to 325-350, tq to 300
Well. the 'lil hp battle will soon be scrapped in Japan, so this should happen within the next few years hopefully.

Quote:
Originally posted by SniperX13

3: Make it AWD.

I like it MR better


Quote:
Originally posted by SniperX13

4: Redesign it, make it a bit more aggressive looking, with sleeker, strong lines
I quite like the look, but the majority agrees with you. I think Honda/Acura was looking at a next-gen NSX sometime soon as well.
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