Detroit 2013: Acura Stuns With the NSX Concept…Again

It’s day two at the 2013 North American International Auto Show, and surprises are few and far between. Sure, Ford trotted out its concept for the new F-150 despite radio silence on the matter during the weeks leading up to the event, and Shelby’s long-rumored EcoBoost concept is actually a Focus ST, but the tired, huddled masses are difficult to surprise (and sometimes difficult to delight) at this point.

Leave it to Acura, the inoffensive Japanese luxury brand that makes handsome but safe cars to give us something that lights up our eyes, melts our admittedly cold hearts, and gets our blood flowing again. The car in question is the NSX Concept.

This is the second time we’ve seen the NSX concept, to be fair: Acura marched the long, low, sleek supercar onto the stand last year to gasps and a standing ovation; almost immediately it rose to the top of pundits’ “things I loved at Detroit” lists. But the NSX you see above is different than before: Acura VP Michael Accavitti says that this car, a sort of “NSX 2.0,” is a second-generation concept that reflects the extensive engineering work the concept has undergone. With just two years to go until the NSX greets Acura dealers, the new concept is more realistic, more likely to go in production.

Which is a good thing, because the NSX 2.0 is stunning in a manner unlike anything else on the floor. Where the Corvette (admittedly a showstopper) is brash and bold, the NSX is handsomely styled to the point of perfection. Acura’s Jewel Eye LED headlights might look a bit unsightly on Acura’s other models, but they look tailored to the NSX’s low, angled front end. Even the corporate grille insert–the single-blade razor, if you will–is neatly folded in. The C-pillars feature an updated version of the “flying buttress” motif we saw years ago on the Ferrari 599GTB Fiorano.

But the NSX 2.0 also has an enticing new feature: an interior. The carpets (ostensibly wool), seats (probably suede), and door panels (leather) are matching shades of red; the red seats are deeply bucketed, carbon-fiber-backed numbers with thin, swoopy black swatches stitched into the seatbacks. Some trim pieces on the doors are carbon fiber; others–like on the simple, touch-activated center stack, are piano black. The center stack is topped by a decent-sized LCD screen; there’s another behind the steering wheel to serve as a gauge cluster. The pedals are brushed aluminum, as are the door sills emblazoned with the NSX logo.

Acura’s MDX crossover will sell many, many times more units than the NSX at the other end of the stand. But for weary travelers and journalists (not to mention public showgoers), there is no comparison: Acura’s occasional lack of focus in the design studio (which produced cars like the bland RLX) is relegated to the history books after you take a good, long look at this car. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

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