But that’s not all the advanced technology. The NSX makes liberal use of lightweight materials. The passenger cell is made of aluminum. Body panels are aluminum and composite. The floor pan is carbon fiber, and the roof pillars high-strength steel. Magnetorheological shocks change the ride quality based on mode.
Acura quotes a curb weight of 3,803 pounds, with a 42/58-percent front-to-rear weight distribution.
The R8 is advanced in its own right. The platform is Audi’s Modular Sportscar System (MSS) spaceframe that also underpins the Lamborghini Huracán. MSS is made up of more than 80 percent aluminum, but it also uses carbon fiber to provide extra rigidity to the firewall and central tunnel. The structure boasts 40 percent more torsional stiffness than the last R8’s, thanks in part to a pair of X braces, one on top of the midship-mounted engine and one behind it. Audi’s Magnetic Ride provides adjustable damping.
The engine is the 5.2-liter V-10 from the first-generation R8, but it’s been updated with port injection (to go with the carryover direct injection), cylinder deactivation, new software tuning, and a bump in compression. Output in the base version that we drove is 540 hp with 398 lb-ft of torque. A V10 Plus model turns up the dial to 610 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque.
Only one transmission is available, Audi’s S Tronic 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Two seats, no waiting
These are supercars, so they each only have two seats, one for you and one for your arm candy. Both have a futuristic look, but in very different ways.
The NSX sweeps the driver and passenger up in a leathery embrace that is broken up by large swaths of metallic or carbon fiber trim (the latter for a considerable price). An Alcantara headliner dresses up the cabin as well.
In his first drive review of the NSX, Editorial Director Marty Padgett wrote, “The first signal the car sends the driver, though, is a mixed one. The gentle camelback of console controls house pushbuttons for the transmission. There's no shift lever at all—one thing in a luxe Lincoln SUV, maybe, quite another in a grand-touring sports car crowding the supercar gates.”
The lack of a shifter is a bit off-putting, and the gear selection buttons are right out of the Honda Pilot. At least Acura provides shift paddles.
A large dial at the base of the center stack is a futuristic visual element; it handles the drive modes.
The NSX’s received rave reviews from our staff, but the infotainment system didn’t. “Good heavens the system Acura has in the NSX is atrocious. Being all touchscreen is a horrible idea, and why can’t I have AM radio? Apple’s CarPlay is the saving grace,” said Interactive Content Manager Joel Feder.
Our editors also appreciated the almost sedan-like feel. “The view from the driver seat is as panoramic as in the original. With that, the low cowl, and a steering wheel flattened at its top and bottom to preserve the view, the new NSX has recreated the original perspective,“ Padgett wort.
There is some Accord in this supercar cabin, and that makes it easy to drive every day: “It's a simple, typically-Honda car inside. You simply get in and go, and it's even easy to adjust the radio (as long as you like FM). I've never met such a user-friendly supercar,” Senior Editor Andrew Ganz said.
The R8’s cabin is simple by comparison. The driver sits in a somewhat upright position like in the NSX, and that also aids outward visibility. All of the information and many of the controls are front and center right in front of the driver. The dash flows away from the steering wheel, with the some of the MMI infotainment system controls and the climate controls along the center line.
The most unique element of the R8’s interior is the large screen in the instrument panel. It’s the only screen in the car, and Audi calls it the Virtual Cockpit. It can display navigation maps, computer-generated gauges, audio stations, and all kinds of other information.
Our views on the virtual cockpit differ. Padgett wrote, “It’s a calling card for a new generation of Audis, and frankly, it’s dazzling.”
Ganz said: “I love the virtual cockpit in the A4, but the R8 needs a redundant screen. I spent more time trying to change radio stations than I did driving (well, not quite).”
Managing Editor Aaron Cole called it a distraction, but admitted that it’s gorgeous.
The simple approach appeals to Padgett, leaving drivers to concentrate mostly on just one thing. “The R8’s cockpit practically begs for high-speed driving,” he wrote.