2016 Acura NSX vs. 2012 Acura NSX Concept
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2016 Acura NSX Bares Close Resemblance to 2012 Concept

The Acura NSX (refereed to as Honda NSX in some parts of the world) has been in concept form for what feels like an eternity. Finally, after three years of testing and teasing the much-anticipated production version of the NSX was unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

The history of the NSX dates back 25 years but this is only the second iteration of the sports car. That’s right, the first generation Acura NSX debuted in 1990 and lasted 15 long years before being put on hiatus in 2005. Acura’s design was so modern that only minor changes were made throughout its tenure, mostly to accommodate advances in technology. A successor to the NSX wasn’t planned until 2011 when Honda announced that a NSX Concept would be shown at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Rarely does a production model resemble the concept version. So, it’s a pleasant surprise to see that the 2016 Acura NSX didn’t stray far from its 2012 Concept. The overall silhouette of both super cars is almost identical except that the 2015 NSX grew a few inches in length, width, and height. The wheelbase of the new aluminum space frame has also expanded 11 inches. Probably the most noticeable difference is the larger air intakes behind the doors on the 2016 NSX that give the mid-mounted, twin-turbo V6, and three electric motors more air to breath.

There are no drastic changes to any exterior components; the front is similar in design with only minor tweaks. It includes several features that are now standard on all Acura models. The NSX Concept was the first to feature the brand’s Jewel Eye headlights, which have a more dynamic design and sadly better looking than the production version. The 2016 NSX has one extra lightbulb and the headlight is larger to include a turn indicator and a row of LEDs below the six lightbulbs. Thanks to a smaller horizontal chrome bar that has also become a staple on all Acura models the centre grille on the 2016 NSX has a bigger opening. Similarly, the outside grilles on the bumper are the same shape but larger.

The rear of the NSX has changed the least from concept to production. The back window is larger on the 2016 NSX, which leads to a redesigned partition at the bottom. Tail lights are the same size but with different styling. Relocation of the exhaust pipes is the most noticeable change. Two pipes on either side of the concept are now grouped together in the middle of the bumper just below the licence plate. Reflector lights take over on the production model where the old exhausts used to be on the concept.

The cockpit of the 2016 NSX provides a completely different experience compared to the concept version. According to Jonathan Norman, NSX interior design project leader, the cabin acts as a Human Support Cockpit that provides “exceptional driver control and visibility” while meeting the “extreme performance expectations of a modern supercar”. Aside from the red, black, and silver colour scheme the interior has drastically changed to include more buttons to control a vast amount of features.

Relocated air vents are now on top of the touchscreen making for a more integrated centre stack, which is consumed by buttons, dials, and controls. A dial that includes a push button ignition replaces the traditional gear selector. Fortunately, drivers can still enjoy shifting gears using paddles on the steering wheel. To accommodate more functionality Acura made the steering wheel spokes thicker than those on the concept. Unfortunately, this gives it a sedan feel rather than a sports car. The concept’s steering wheel was more appropriate for a supercar. A digital instrument cluster in front of the steering wheel can now be reconfigured depending on what information the driver needs or wants. This technology is relatively new so it’s ideal to be included on a car of this stature.

The NSX continues to turn heads with a modern design that’s already three years old. Although a vehicle’s design cycle is 3-5 years it’s not likely that the 2016 Acura NSX will be redesigned anytime soon. It may not last 15 years like the first generation, but it’s safe to say that this model will be with us for a while as we continue to drool over it.