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neuronbob's trip to NSX Drive Experience (long)

18 October 2015
Cleveland area, OH
I was invited to drive a new NSX at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio, via the NSXCA. I did so last week, as part of the NSX Drive Experience. Because the TRC is an active automotive research site, the cameras on our phones were taped and so pictures are limited. I will have a (typically neuronbob-long) video reiterating what I've typed below, just editing it. As you know, Acura is having a hell of a time selling these cars in 2018, and these drives are to impress potential buyers from getting off the fence and spending money. They certainly pull out all the stops.

In my case, the TRC is only 2 1/2 hours from my house, so I had no excuse not to go. I drove my 1999 Kaiser Silver down to the Columbus area.

Once there, I signed in. Acura was running two-hour sessions all day. In my group were a couple who'd flown in from New Jersey, another couple who'd driven from Nashville, a local who'd ridden in on his motorcycle, and a few others. We mixed in with the driving instructors appointed for the day, and with one another. I was the only original NSX owner there, and none of the others were owners yet. At the appointed hour, we had a talk by John Watts, chief of the NSX Strategy Team at Acura. We learned that 1800 NSXs have been delivered worldwide, with 955 delivered in the USA. Most people are buying the two reds, black, and Nouvelle Blue. Only 2% of sales were Nord Grey. For those unfamiliar, the layout of the TRC was discussed, including the location of the nearby East Liberty Honda facilities. We met our driving instructors and went to the cars. As it turns out, the instructor we had was the SAME instructor I had during my first stint at the Acura High Performance Driving Course at Mid-Ohio back in 2014! It was a pleasant reunion. Here's Acura's picture of me and the Nord Grey I drove:


We drove in Quiet mode around the TRC. It was honestly like driving my previous RLX Sport Hybrid in that the car was just eerily quiet. Any application of the gas led to the ICE turning on, though.

We were then allowed to take the car onto the high-speed oval. The instructor's request was to drive around 85 mph as this would keep us on the wall. It was initially difficult to keep the car on the wall since I'd never driven like that before, and I had to pull the wheel to the left. I got comfortable enough to get the car up to 100 mph comfortably on the wall. Amazing experience for me. Once I got to the straight, I was asked to floor it. I have to say that the car is really, really quick, incredibly quick even flooring it from 100 mph to about 135 mph, where I topped out. The car I had had the carbon ceramic brakes and they did a really good job of hauling the car to a stop, which I’ll discuss further later.

Next for my group was a road track run. I am told that this same course was used for NSXPO 2014. I managed to get the car up to a bit over 100 mph on the longer straight, and I put the brakes to good use. On a couple of turns, I tested the limits of the car. I made the car slide a couple of times, and it did so, controllably. You could certainly feel a bit of pull on the front wheels to correct the car and make it more neutral in the turns, and eventually I was able to accelerate earlier in the turns, and in a way that would make my 1999 NSX spin. The car is certainly more capable than I am capable of driving, and my opinion of eSH-AWD that it makes us "chumps" drive like "champs" continues.

Next was acceleration and braking. We did a straight-line acceleration run without launch control first. That acceleration pushed me into my seat. It's what I imagine my CTS-V wagon would be able to do if it could put all the power to the ground instead of spinning the rear tires. I was then asked to do a full, ABS-inducing stop. Wow, those carbon ceramic brakes really scrub speed incredibly quickly, so quickly that you could come out of your seat if you weren't belted. We then did launch control. Smash foot into brake, press accelerator all the way down. In this mode, the ICE revs to 2300 rpm and the MID tells you launch mode is activated. I then took my foot off the brake with accelerator fully matted. The acceleration pushed my head into the headrest, hard as I hit that 2.9 second 0-60 time. Luckily, my head was resting on the headrest. One guy didn’t have his head on the headrest and he hit his head on the headrest, a bit hard he said. I will note that the engineers who spoke to us about the launch control indicated that our test cars had up to 2000 launch control events, and that we didn't have to limit launch control starts in the NSX. This is unlike other cars in which too many launch control events void warranty (GT-R), or require clutch service after a certain number (P-cars). This is because the electric motors give the initial push, and that allows the transmission just enough time to get into first gear in a non-harmful, non-jarring way.

Last, we ran an autocross circuit to give an idea of how eSH-AWD does on at lower speeds. It was entertaining. The car was easy to keep a good line in the turns, a lot easier than on the the high-speed road coarse. Again, you could feel the car was quite neutral in the turns. It handled like a much lighter car.

Afterward, we spoke with workers form PMC who discussed construction of the car, including placement of radiator inside a strong box to protect it in a collision, and how the A-pillars were designed to hold the roof up in a rollover. We filled out an after-experience survey mostly concentrating on how interested in the car you were, and whether you were going to buy one. During the talks, I made a couple of suggestions about the car--front lift for speedbumps, and power steering wheel. After that, we then were bussed in a surprise visit to the PMC, which is typically reserved for purchasers of the car. We visited the conference and customer reception rooms. We were able to see the floor of the factory after the door to the factory was made less opaque. The factory looked so clean you could eat off the floor. We were shown paint, assembly, and quality control. If you purchase, you can come to the PMC and if the timing is right, you can place a part on your own car.

A reception was planned for that night, but I had to drive back to Cleveland and so missed it. Acura truly showed a great time, and the PMC employees are definitely proud of the product they put out. They are serious about moving more cars and from my conversation with the concierge prior to coming, Acura is planning drive events in other parts of the country, as well. If you are invited, I advise taking Acura up on it. If you're a NSXCA member, you may get an invite in that way.

So what did I like about the new NSX?
--The ease of normal driving, just like in my old NSX
--The surprisingly good visibility with mirrors properly adjusted
--The raw speed
--The carbon ceramic brakes are amazing
--The track handling with eSH-AWD
--The fact that the steering wheel is the same as my prior RLX and current TLX. I know people complain about the switchgear, and sure it can be made more "special". However, I love the ergonomics of the steering wheel controls. For example the rolling volume button that can be moved side to side to change presets. I use that every day on my TLX and its use in the NSX came naturally to me.
--Stability of the car at high speeds. 100 mph felt like 60 mph in lesser cars.
--Quiet Mode

--I drove a base unit, but optioned with carbon ceramics. Manual seats don't belong in a $150k car.
--Manual steering wheel adjustment, just like in my 1999! Doesn't belong in a $150k car.
--The Conti tires provided were not well-suited for track work. For regular street driving, those tires are just fine.
--So wide! It's sometimes a challenge to keep the car in lane because of width.
--Needs Acurawatch, given I'd use it to drive long distances to NSX events. Car's already heavy and that stuff can't add THAT much more weight.
--Can't get it serviced at a Honda dealership, like I can my 1999 in a pinch. This is important to me because I do long-distance trips to NSX events and if there's an issue, there are lots of Honda dealerships I can go to in an emergency. However, the new NSX required new investment for Acura dealers to be able to accomodate the cars for service, and there are a lot fewer Acura dealers in the countryside. Car's mostly going to be used near home, though, and my local Acura dealer is only 3 miles from my house.

So will I be buying a new one? We'll see. My main priority right now is to get the Comptech supercharger on my 1999 NSX for a bit more "oomph". In the meantime, a few more pics:

My 1999 at PMC:

Entry to the PMC:


PMC lobby with NSX chair, NSX spaceframe, factory door opaqued so we couldn't see it initially:



PMC Conference room table with NSX chassis and detail:


PMC Customer Reception area with NSX engine table:

NSX Drive Experience swag:

Limited edition NSX poster:

Limited edition NSX Drive Edition T-shirt, front and rear (rear with my ID badge):


NSX marketing via mags:

Bumper chips from actual production NSXs. They are made when a machine punches out holes for the rear license plate screws. My chips were Nouvelle Blue (my favorite) and Nord Grey (next favorite and rarest. Lighting not ideal, unfortunately.

Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed.
Very cool, thank you for sharing the experience! I also enjoyed your coverage on Instagram!
That looks like a great experience, and some interesting observations about the new car compared to the old one. I will say there have been times that I've wanted manual seats when I'm having to wait for the motor to travel it all the way up or back to stick something behind the seat, or get in the floorboard...not many times....but I'm impatient like that :)
Jay Leno had a good point when he did his review of the NSX. Why would you trade the extra weight of a seat motor (or a steering wheel height motor) for the convenience during the ONE TIME you set the position of your seat or steering wheel? Unless you share the car with other people this is useless weight.
Great write up Bob, thank you.

Regarding the width thing, it took me a bit of seat time to get used to it. Now, lane management with the car has become second nature. I do agree that the car should have included the lane departure and blindspot tech.