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Test Drive: Why the 2020 Acura NSX Is Still an All-Star

We spend a week with the most recent incarnation of the hybrid supercar, and we’re still thrilled.

Billy RehbockWriter, Photographer

Our roster of 2017 Automobile All-Stars contenders featured a cornucopia of cars representing almost every market segment. We tested a little something for everyone, from a minivan to a mid-engine supercar, which happened to be a 2017 Acura NSX. As it turned out, the much-anticipated second-generation version of Acura's world-class sports car had the right stuff to be named a winner. We showered the electrified coupe with praise, especially for the harmonious interplay of its gasoline engine and electric motors. But I had missed my chance to personally experience that particular 2020 Acura NSX test drive.

Indeed, I joined the Automobile staff just months after it reached its All-Stars verdict, and I've been disappointed ever since that I wasn't here for the opportunity to drive the hybrid supercar the first time around. Frankly, I never believed the derision I found in comment sections on the internet that said the new NSX was lifeless or too electric. But I've always wondered ...

2020 Acura NSX Test Drive: Upgraded for Performance

Fortunately, when my time arrived to get behind the wheel of a new Acura NSX, it was after the 2019 model year refresh. Acura added a slew of improvements to the car; while the combined 573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque—which comes from a twin-turbo V-6 mated to three electric motors—remained unchanged, Acura fiddled with plenty throughout the rest of the car.

While we praised the NSX's "elevated dynamics" during our All-Stars evaluation, the manufacturer saw fit to upgrade the car, and it was something I looked forward to during my test drive of the 2020 Acura NSX. Acura stiffened chassis parts including the rear hub, front and rear anti-roll bars, and rear toe-link bushings. It also revised the drive-system tuning and offered Continental SportContact 6 tires. The result: the NSX is almost 2 seconds faster around the famous, Honda-owned Suzuka Grand Prix Circuit in Japan.

Additionally, Acura updated the NSX's appearance for 2019, including a body-color grille piece and a slew of exterior and interior option choices. They include the Technology Package, which adds navigation, plus the ELS Studio premium audio system, front and rear parking sensors, and power-adjustable heated seats.

My 2020 Acura NSX test car arrived with Indy Yellow Pearl paint, added for $1,000. It rode on standard Y-Spoke alloy wheels over red brake calipers which were optioned for $700. And it was trimmed with a $3,000, optional carbon-fiber rear decklid spoiler.

To onlookers, the 2020 Acura NSX is no less stunning as it was when it debuted. Yet while its interior is still well appointed, the infotainment system has begun to show its age with chunky controls and a slower interface than those offered by competitors like Porsche, Audi, and Mercedes-AMG. Inside this brightly colored supercar was Acura's Semi-Aniline Orchid Leather and Alcantara seats; Sirius XM radio was also optioned for $500.

2020 Acura NSX Test Drive: A Still-Stellar Supercar

I'd driven a 1991 NSX to Radwood Los Angeles earlier this year, and while that car was breathtaking in its own right, the latest iteration of the nameplate has all of the first-generation car's poise while doubling down on performance with explosive dynamics. But that's not all. As did its predecessor, the 2020 Acura NSX rides around town like a normal car; its cabin remains hushed, especially in the Quiet and Sport modes thanks to the hybrid drivetrain. As far as supercars go, it's fairly frugal with fuel, as EPA-rated mileage is 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.

Pop the drive setting over to Sport + or Track, though, and the 2020 Acura NSX wakes up like it's late for a wedding. This test drive reminded me that, yes, it surges off the line thanks to the hybrid drivetrain that dazzles with instant torque and acceleration that doesn't drop until well into triple digits. Acura's excellent SH-AWD system is at its best here, laying down the power well thanks to the sticky rubber and fantastic traction management.

The all-wheel-drive system isn't just good for straight-line acceleration; the 2020 Acura NSX's triple electric-motor setup works in tandem with Acura's torque-vectoring system to pivot through corners, even in tight hairpins. Likewise, the stiffened chassis maintains its composure when driven with gusto in the canyons. The 9-speed dual-clutch transmission delivers lightning quick shifts which are accompanied by delicious sounds from the exhaust.

Working through the gears, you can hear the turbos hiss behind the firewall. As the revs increase, the engine issues a wail that sounds like it's been ripped from a video game, and the NSX instills immense confidence in its driver. With my eyes up, looking into the next corner, the car followed every steering input precisely, dancing over the canyon roads with jaw-dropping precision.

2020 Acura NSX Test Drive: Star Status Maintained

The 202 Acura NSX is sublime to take for a test drive, but it doesn't give up much for those who want to drive a sports car every day. The starting price is $159,495, and with options this car came in at $164,695; of course, Acura designates cars such as the Audi R8 V10, the outgoing Porsche 911 Turbo, and the McLaren 570S as the NSX's primary competitors. Those super sports cars cost $171,150, $163,050, $197,000, respectively, making the 2020 NSX a sensible option for performance in this rarified realm. For the record, the car we named an Automobile All-Star cost $199,200, which we thought at the time was a mite expensive. The sticker on this one is much easier for us to wrap our heads around.

After a week behind the wheel test-driving the 2020 Acura NSX, its hybrid technology still delights and amazes, even if the infotainment system is less than satisfactory. But the latter is a small shortcoming compared to an otherwise long litany of deserved praise, and the Acura NSX is still an All-Star in our book.

2020 Acura NSX Pros

  • Fantastic performance at a (relatively) competitive price
  • Exotic design has aged well
  • Seamless hybrid powertrain
  • Comfortable for commuting

2020 Acura NSX Cons

  • Slow and outdated infotainment system
  • Very small trunk
2020 Acura NSX Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $159,495/$164,695 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 3.5L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/500 hp @ 6,500-7,500 rpm, 406 lb-ft @ 2,000-6,000 rpm, plus 2 x 36-hp/54-lb-ft (front) and one 47-hp/109-lb-ft (mid) electric motors; 573 hp/476 lb-ft combined
TRANSMISSION 9-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, AWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE 21/22 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 176.0 x 87.3 x 47.8 in
WHEELBASE 103.5 in
WEIGHT 3,803 lb
0-60 MPH 2.9 sec
TOP SPEED 191 mph