2019 Acura NSX: Mild changes make Acura's supercar faster, more fun to drive

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2019 Acura NSX (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

Upon entering the Performance Manufacturing Center, I was immediately struck by the immaculate whiteness of my surroundings. From the white employee jumpsuits and shelving to the light gray flooring and silver trimmed windows, the entire space was conspicuously devoid of color.

This provided the perfect canvas for the splashes of vivid color interjected by Acura NSX parts being carted around the plant on dollies.

While you may see robots busy welding pieces of the chassis or dipping NSX parts in paint, the plant itself is remarkably human. In fact, there isn’t a single conveyer belt in the facility, and every piece of an NSX gets wheeled from station to station throughout the entire build process.

At least until it can be driven to the next station.

Even the engine is fitted inside the vehicle by a pair of workers with gloved hands.

Acura gave us a rare look inside the Marysville, Ohio, plant where the NSX is built, drawing back the curtain on its pristine workspace and showing the love and care each NSX gets throughout the entire build process.

It should come as no surprise that a special vehicle receives such special attention.

The NSX is the halo model for the Acura brand with low-volume sales. But its return after a 12-year hiatus hearkened a new era of design for the automaker. And many design cues – from the headlights to the interior cockpit styling – have made their way throughout the model lineup, including the recently refreshed ILX.

With its return as a 2017 model, NSX entered its second generation, and as a 2-year-old vehicle, it doesn’t get a lot of updates for 2019.

Primary changes focus on the tires and the chassis. The NSX now sports Continental SportContact 6 tires with a new tread design, tire compound and tire construction, which translates to increased grip.

In terms of the chassis adjustments, the rear stabilizer bar is 19 percent stiffer, the rear hub is 6 percent more rigid and the front stabilizer bar is 26 percent stiffer.

These changes alone helped shave nearly 2 seconds off its lap time at the Suzuka International Racing Course in Japan.

In addition to some minor exterior design tweaks and an expanded color palette, the other big change for 2019 is that NSX includes more standard features such as navigation, ELS Studio audio, front and rear proximity sensors, 4-way heated power seats and aluminum sport pedals.

Acura gave us the opportunity to drive laps on the tight, technical track at its proving grounds, and the NSX is pure delight. We flipped through the different drive modes as well as played around with the paddle shifters, pushing corners and crushing the brakes as we got more familiar with the track.

It was light and nimble, grippy and fast in all the right places.

From the hard accelerations and throaty exhaust notes, it’s sometimes easy to forget the NSX is a hybrid.

NSX is equipped with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine and a direct drive motor, with a combined power output of 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of torque.

That’s more horsepower and torque than you’ll find in the Audi R8 or the McLaren 570S, which are equipped with a V-10 and V-8, respectively.

The NSX also has Acura’s SH-AWD system. Both the R8 and 570S are rear-wheel drive.

It’s also worth noting that the NSX is $7K less than the R8 and $20K less than the 570S, with a starting price of $159,300, including destination.

The Bottom Line

It was pretty cool to get a glimpse inside the Performance Manufacturing Center and to see the care and attention this supercar gets from the moment of inception.

And as a nice touch, Acura offers owners the opportunity to see their cars being built and even affix the Acura “A” emblem to the nose of their own vehicles.

The Acura NSX is a beautiful car with a storied past. Plus, it’s one of those rare birds that’s just as comfortable for longer street drives as it is during short bursts on a race track.

I love how it looks, and I especially love how it drives.

Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Acura covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.