The blue NSX you see here was built just two weeks ago. Prototype number six, it rolled off Acura’s newest assembly line in Ohio and was rushed out to the Monterey peninsula for various car week activities. We had a chance to sit down with several members of the NSX team to discuss the car, the long road from concept to production, and some interesting details. Below are some choice bits from our conversations.
Acura is pretty proud of the fact that NSX version 2.0 was designed and is being built in the US. The new assembly line, called the Performance Manufacturing Center, is in Honda’s hometown of Marysville, Ohio. While the line is brand new, the building has seen many uses over its lifetime, most recently as a warehouse facility. PMC staff numbers about 100, with 60 technical and 40 non-technical associates.
The car uses parts sourced globally, and one of those sources is Cosworth. The engine blocks and heads come from the English firm and get assembled into twin-turbo powerhouses at Honda’s nearby Anna, Ohio, engine plant. The Cosworth name is rarely associated with a bad engine, so we were geeked to hear the NSX’s 550-plus-horsepower hybrid powertrain has good genes.
Acura hasn’t decided how many cars will come to the US each year, but supplies will be limited. We’re told there is a total figure for global sales – basically anywhere Honda and Acura vehicles are sold – but they’re not ready to divulge that number. Dealer allocation is also yet to be sorted out, although we’re told that any dealer that has the necessary tools and equipment to service the new NSX will be able to sell them. Acura currently has 272 US dealers.
The switch from the transverse engine originally planned to a longitudinal twin-turbo engine threw everyone involved for a loop. The designers had to lengthen their nearly finalized design, and the engineers working on the production process had to revise or redo much of their work. Though we’ve been waiting a while for the car since the concept first surfaced in 2012, it’s pretty amazing to think that the car was engineered one and a half times and a new factory was built in about three years. But yeah, it’s delayed, with series production now set to commence in the spring of 2016.
One result of the switch to a longitudinal engine is a transmission hump in the cargo area aft of the engine. The hold is still sized to fit a bag of golf clubs, though it will be a tight fit.
The designers used some black paint and trompe l’oeil trickery to lighten the look of the side mirrors. The top half of the mirror and half of the arm are painted body color, while the rest is done in gloss black to create the effect of a more delicate assembly. It works, except on the black car; although that one also uses the two different finishes, the difference isn’t really noticeable.
Acura is throwing away its simplified ordering system for the new NSX. While customers shopping for an MDX simply need to choose a trim level and a paint/interior combo, the NSX buyer will get to make lots of decisions to craft a custom order. Choices will include paint, interior hues, several wheel styles and finishes, and additional carbon-fiber parts and trim; the standard car will have an aluminum roof, while a carbon piece can be spec’d, and available carbon dress-up pieces will include side sills, a rear diffuser, and an engine dress-up kit.
The newly announced blue paint, called Nouvelle Blue Pearl, like the red used on the 2015 show car, uses a fancy multi-layer paint process from PPG that does a nice job of highlighting the surfacing and creases in the car’s body. It gave the production engineers a headache, however, since it takes about 16 hours to cure versus regular paint’s two-hour wait time. Not surprisingly, it will be an extra-cost option.
This new NSX is exponentially more complicated than the original. It will use something like 47 different computers to control the various electronics and powertrain systems.
After three years of waiting, we’re pretty amped to get behind the wheel. Acura tells us blue car #6 will be one of those available for press drives later this year.