NAIAS 2012: Acura NSX Concept sports new performance hybrid system, exotic materials

  • 10-Jan-2012 09:02 EST
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As with the original Acura NSX, a major focus of the next-generation supercar’s development will be its power-to-weight ratio, according to Takanobu Ito, President and CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., pictured here at right behind the concept. (Ryan Gehm)

Judging by the ovation from a usually stoic media-filled audience, the Acura NSX Concept is undoubtedly one of the stars of this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The reveal of an Acura supercar successor has been anticipated since production of the NSX ended in 2005.

Not a lot of technical details are available yet for the next-generation NSX, and the supercar’s engineers are not being made available for interviews until the program is further along. But Acura did announce (again to cheers from the audience) that the car’s development will be led by its R&D team in the U.S. and built at a yet-to-be-named plant in Ohio.

About a year ago is when the NSX design project began, according to Jon Ikeda, head of the Acura Design Studio, talking to AEI at the auto show Jan. 9. That’s when designers from the Los Angeles studio were sent to Japan.

“We were using all of our assets globally in terms of studios,” he explained. “Obviously to get to this point, there are things our engineers were already bringing up to create a vehicle that enhances what we call managing synergy [between the vehicle and its operator].”

Also known is that the new NSX, which is expected to come to market on a global basis within the next three years, will sport the company’s new performance hybrid system, Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive). Employing a two electric-motor drive unit with a newly developed Bilateral Torque Adjustable Control System, the new AWD system is said to instantly generate negative or positive torque to the front wheels during cornering. Acura expects the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD to deliver a “revolutionary handling experience,” company spokesman Gary Robinson said, compared to previous AWD systems.

A next-generation, mid-mounted VTEC V6 engine with direct injection is mated to a dual clutch transmission (DCT) with built-in electric motor to create supercar acceleration with higher efficiency. The lithium-ion battery pack is located near the middle of the car.

Takanobu Ito, President and CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., said during the concept’s introduction that the next-generation NSX will hold true to the original NSX’s key attribute: superior power-to-weight ratio. He also hinted that the NSX will find its way to the racetrack.

“Like the first NSX, we will again express high performance through engineering efficiency,” said Ito, who led the development of Acura’s first NSX supercar. “In this new era, even as we focus on the fun-to-drive spirit of the NSX, I think a supercar must respond positively to environmental responsibilities.”

The car will employ lightweight materials, but what those materials will be and to what extent they will be applied could not be discussed. “Lightweight is an absolute priority,” said Robinson. “You can expect exotic materials.”

“It’s going to be a hybrid vehicle, it’s a V6 engine, and an all-wheel-drive system—everything’s not going to be the lightest in the world, so everything else probably has to be very light,” Ikeda told AEI. “That’s what all these guys will be looking at—the lightest materials they can get their hands on [and involving] many components to make this happen.”

Dimensions of the NSX Concept are:

• Length, mm (in): 4330 (170.5)

• Width, mm (in): 1895 (74.6)

• Height, mm (in): 1160 (45.7)

• Wheelbase, mm (in): 2575 (101.4)

• Wheel size, in: 19x9 (front), 20x10 (rear)

• Tire size: 255/35R19 (front), 275/30R20 (rear)

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