Acura NSX vs. Audi R8: We compare tech versus higher tech Page 4


Supercar track stars

Daily comfort is just a bonus in these cars. It’s what happens when they are driven hard that makes them so special.

From behind the wheel the NSX calls up all the wonderful memories of the first-generation car. It's fluid, fast, fun—and even-tempered.

In the Sport+ and Track modes the car really comes alive, mostly because the engine is on boil and the gears are held low.

“This NSX has handling that's as progressive as its worldview,” Padgett wrote. Charge into corners and the mechanical and digital bits start to take over. They reduce the radius of the corner, allowing the car to rotate when you think it will push. It responds well to trail-braking, and the front axle's torque vectoring capability helps it power out of corners. The electro-servo brake pedal stroke is also very well integrated.

2017 Acura NSX

2017 Acura NSX

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2017 Acura NSX

2017 Acura NSX

Enlarge Photo
2017 Acura NSX

2017 Acura NSX

Enlarge Photo

“It's designed to be driven quickly without feeling nervous or twitchy, and that's just what it does. If there's such a beast as a tame supercar, this is it,” Padgett said.

However, he was the only editor to drive the NSX on a racetrack. During our test drive on twisty mountain roads, the NSX didn’t quite provide the feedback other editors wanted.

“You really aren’t positive what it’s going to do at the limit, or even sometimes where that limit is,” Feder noted.

“Stiff correction once you’ve lost grip. Doesn’t feel as progressive climbing toward the performance limit—grip is there until it’s not. Who wants to get spanked?,” Cole said.

The NSX we drove had the Continental Conti-Sport Contact 5P tires that other journalists have derided. They’re designed more for comfort than ultimate grip. For those who want more of the latter, Acura offers Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R treads, and for ultimate grip, the NSX can be fitted with Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires. Perhaps either of those tires will provide more feedback.

Take it down just a notch, though, and the NSX responds beautifully. “Really easy to drive quickly. Darts in and out of corners; no prior experience necessary. The old NSX was mechanical. The new one is so digital. Better? Probably,” Cole said.

2017 Audi R8, Asheville to Daytona part III

2017 Audi R8, Asheville to Daytona part III

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2017 Audi R8, Asheville to Daytona part III

2017 Audi R8, Asheville to Daytona part III

Enlarge Photo
2017 Audi R8

2017 Audi R8

Enlarge Photo

Our editors found the R8 to be more predictable.

Its handling is very neutral, and turn-in is immediate. Drive the car too hard into a corner and it will understeer a bit. If you kick the throttle in a turn the tail can jump out, even though the R8 uses the quattro all-wheel-drive system. Tame the slide, though, let the quattro kick in, and you can drive the car hard out of a turn.

“You can slip the surly bonds of grip and let the R8 slide briefly left before it hooks up, moving power from the rears to the front wheels,” Padgett wrote in his drive of the R8 at Daytona International Speedway. “The new all-wheel-drive system underfoot keeps a near-perfect balance.”

ALSO SEE: Motor Authority Best Car To Buy Nominee: 2017 Audi R8

Feder grew comfortable with the R8. “The R8 feels planted and predictable. You know what it’s doing, what it’s going to do, and how it’s going to do it. You can play with it, and it wants you to do so,” he said.

“When it comes time to hammer down, it's the R8 that provides so much more feedback and puts the bigger smile on the driver's face. I think I was faster in the NSX, but I had more fun in the R8,” said Ganz.

Cole agreed: “Much more progressive and fun to drive quickly. The NSX is feels sharper, but also more delicate. The R8 feels like an old friend daring you to go further, faster and high-fiving along the way. Just so much fun.”

However, Cole still has a healthy respect for the R8. “The R8 doesn’t feel heavy, until you unload the suspension. Then I challenge anyone to keep clean underwear on a two-lane road,” he said.

2017 Audi R8 vs. 2017 Acura NSX

2017 Audi R8 vs. 2017 Acura NSX

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The verdict

So, all things considered, which do we prefer, the highly advanced NSX or the more traditional R8?

In a 3-2 split decision, our staff picks the NSX. Padgett, Ganz, and Feder prefer the NSX, recognizing it as a technological flagship that carries authority as a true halo car.

“The R8 feels like the past while the NSX feels like the future, or a stepping stone to the future,” said Feder.

Cole likes the R8, and think I agree.

It’s the R8’s relative simplicity that appeals to me. I’ve driven it on a track and it held up well. I suspect it can handle plenty of punishment, but I worry that, with more drive and braking systems, the NSX has more things that could go haywire if you drive it hard too often. If I had the money, though, I might go for the NSX.

Preferences aside, both cars are fantastic. Given the effort that Acura and Audi put into developing them, these supercars should feel, look, and be special. The NSX and R8 both fit the bill.


 
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