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Acura NSX an Affordable Ferrari Fighter: Chief Engineer

We ask NSX Chief Engineer Ted Klaus the big questions like: How much will it cost and when will it finally get here?

 |  May 14 2013, 9:59 AM

2015 acura nsx

To creatively paraphrase NSX chief engineer Ted Klaus, the upcoming Acura supercar will be like a Nissan GT-R, but built for drivers.

Exactly what does that mean? In essence it will deliver truly world-class performance without an ultra-exotic price tag. It also will maintain the brand’s core man-machine synergy principle.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

Acura-NSX-Chief-Engineer-Ted-Klaus

Speaking during a recent round-table with journalists Klaus would not, however, reveal anything (or at least not much) about the car’s projected price. In fact, he wouldn’t even provide a give-or-take-$50,000 estimate.

Instead he chose a wider spread commenting that it will fall within the range of the Porsche 911. Hardly helpful, that currently covers a range from $80,000 to just over $180,000.

Perhaps suggesting it won’t be near the top of that range Klaus revealed that the, “person excited to own and drive this vehicle will have a tremendous sense that they got back a … sports car experience at a price that is a fraction of those vehicles.”

HOW FAST WILL IT BE?

As for what “those vehicles” are, Klaus elaborated, commenting that benchmarked cars range into the truly exotic, including the Ferrari 458 and McLaren MP4-12C. Less pricey, though equally capable rivals include the Corvette, Audi R8 and perhaps the car the NSX will be compared to most (based on factors of performance and price) the Nissan GT-R.

SEE ALSO: Acura NSX II Concept, First Look Video

Not set to launch for two more years and with the first concept being shown over a year ago there’s some worry that with the ever increasing horsepower numbers of modern cars and their heightened capabilities, what would have made the NSX a winner a year ago simply won’t stack up when it finally hits the street.

“One of the challenges for a product at a future date is to set the bar quite high,” said Klaus. But not to worry. “We had to benchmark these brilliant existing targets (again, cars like the Ferrari 458) and set the goal above them.”

acura advanced sports car concept

The original NSX was compared to the Ferraris of its day, and Klaus intends that the new NSX will be no different.

He explains that early proposals (like the Advanced Sports Car Concept, right) were shelved, in part, due to their lack of ambition. Executives told him, “if you’re not going to have intentions to build a halo product, don’t even bother.”

SO EXACTLY HOW MUCH HORSEPOWER?

On the horsepower figure Klaus is vague, but even his circuitous words highlight certain aspects of the car.

“When investing money, do you want a quick return or a comfortable retirement,” he analogizes. Explaining himself, Klaus goes on to indicate that the new NSX will carry on the original car’s ethos of delivering an amazing driving experience rather than just big horsepower numbers for the sake of bench racers.

Still he says, “We’re not unaware of how important those numbers are both to customers and the public at large.” The performance of the NSX, Klaus assures, will be “tremendous” looking good on paper and from behind the wheel. “We’ll have the right balance of bragging rights for the customer and for the brand.”

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE TO DRIVE?

acura nsx interior

While the word hybrid brings to mind notions of dull throttle response, the new NSX will most certainly not be a Prius. Rather it aims to be one of the very first of a new wave of sports cars using electric power to add not just power but driving enjoyment. Both Ferrari and McLaren have already rolled out such products in the LaFerrari and P1, though with ultra limited production and seven-figure price tags.

There’s a worry that all that technology could detract significantly from driver involvement and the purity of the experience that the original car delivered. There’s also the inherent issue of electrical components adding weight.

While the exact layout isn’t confirmed the NSX is expected to use a mid-mounted hybrid V6 engine that will power the rear wheels, while individual electric motors will add torque to the front wheels for added power and unique all-wheel drive capability. Called Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive Klaus says the car will reincarnate and continue the original’s “authentic legacy.”

He elaborates saying the goal is to build a car that will be amazingly capable in the hands of a novice but that more experienced drivers will be able to “peel the onion” revealing new levels of capability.

As well as benchmarking all-out performance of its rivals, Klaus says they also used them to set the bar in terms of driver feel and interaction. All of the rivals were driven with the NSX development team asking themselves the question. “Are these the best they can be?”

2005 Acura NSX

As for the engine itself, Klaus indicates it will provide a broad powerband as well as a “high specific power per liter”. That, after all, is “part of our DNA” he says.

On the issue of weight reduction Klaus acknowledges the inherent disadvantages of heavy hybrid components and batteries but says offsetting mass is something the development team is “going about systematically, benchmarking each system and component.”

However, rather than just tossing in light weight materials wherever, he says they want to “use the right materials in the right place,” focusing not just on rigidity and strength but also reliability – another hallmark of the original NSX.

WHERE WILL IT BE MADE?

The work of putting all that together will be performed at an all-new facility that, surprisingly, is not in Japan. Rather, Honda has elected to build the new NSX in a new Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, closeby to the brand’s Honda R&D Americas facility.

There, says Klaus the team of 100 will strive to find a, “Unique balance in terms of human craftsmanship and highly accurate and repeatable manufacturing techniques.” He also promises “worlds firsts” in how the monocoque and chassis are developed.

MANUFACTURING: WHY OHIO? WHY AMERICA?

Apart from leveraging the close proximity of the brand’s R&D facility and its factory in Ohio there’s a bigger reason why Honda chose to build the NSX in the US.

Honda PR boss Sage Marie says it’s a, “Testament management has in North America, to entrust the leadership of sch a globally important product to the North American team.”

Klaus adds that the reception the original NSX had on US customers factored in to the equation while Honda has a history of developing products close to their main market. And the NSX he says, “first and foremost, is an Acura.”

HITTING RESTART – MOTORSPORTS

As evidence the very first concept was unveiled not in Tokyo but at the Detroit Auto Show. While it will still be branded as a Honda in Japan and much of Europe, it will help build the brand in emerging markets like China, Russia and Brazil.

SEE ALSO: NSX Concept to Go Racing in Japan Next Year

Helping put further focus on the NSX and the Acura brand in general will be a considerable motorsports effort. Honda has already confirmed it will hit the track in Japan in 2014, with the possibility that it could do the same in the newly combined United SportsCar Racing series (formerly the Grand-Am and ALMS series).

Honda-NSX-GT1-race-car

Racing will help Acura not only create a better performing NSX, but build interest and awareness of the car. Klaus confirms that motorsports is a “unique aspect of development,” saying that, “a wining track car will improve the breed of the road car.”

“Success on the street is tied to success on the track,” he reiterates.

IS THERE A DRIVABLE PROTOTYPE?

In short, yes. Has it been tested on the Nurburgring? No.

Described by Klaus as a “finishing school” significant development must first occur before it tackles Germany’s famed ‘Green Hell.’

“It is in a state right now where the potential is there, but as you know the challenge is bringing all the pieces together.”

WHEN WILL IT FINALLY ARRIVE AND WHAT WILL THE FUTURE HOLD?

That won’t happen for two more years with Klaus confirming the project is on target for a 2015 launch.

Beyond that Klaus was reassuring that the new NSX will not be treated like the old car; left to grow stale over a decade with minimal improvements.

“There’s a different attitude this time around than maybe the first generation NSX,” he admits, with a “plan to grow performance.”

acura nsx concept

Discuss this story at NSXForums.com

  • charlie

    Yeah but you forgot to ask the most important question… Does he have phone numbers for the two car models in the top photo?

  • martino

    I can’t wait to start seeing these things on the street. I grew up dreaming about saving for a corvette, but if this thing is close I would definitely make the switch!

  • Negative Nate

    That’s ridiculous. We don’t really know anything about it yet. The photos are of a design concept that Acura said is CLOSE TO PRODUCTION. You’re getting excited over a concept car, stupid.

  • martino

    It really doesn’t matter. It’ll be 99% close to that car, and even if it loses some of the crazy style, it won’t matter much. Acura will keep the headlights. They proved that with the MDX concept/production version.

    Besides, the car will be a blast to drive. Just look at how well the current cars with SH-AWD do and factor it into a supercar. It’s goingto be awesome. Bar none.

  • Negative Nate

    You’re missing the point. We know where it will be made and that it’s a hybrid. It will be compared to Ferraris. You can kiss your plumber’s sports car dream goodbye too, bud. It’s going to be out of your price range. Get ready to buy one after it’s been beaten on.

  • Mr.JohnMcman

    NSX will dominate bro and your going to miss out on the Vtecccc!!!

  • Doug

    Variable Timing Electronic Control Control Control Control ???

  • Alan Oneal

    Why not make a affordable sports car like the rsx, s2000 again? What can I buy next :( minimum wage sucks

  • Falcon Rhodes

    I agree. I own the 2006 rsx type s and it is so much fun to drive. At an awsome price as well. I believe that in time they will be making a new rsx (hopefully turbo) or comparable car that will be at an affordable price.

  • steveb944

    I can’t wait for this to release and hopefully beat down its Nissan counterpart as well as its European counterparts. I’m excited for this release in a couple years.

    I just worry it will be ‘an old car’ once it’s finally out since all manufacturers are upping their tech.

  • http://www.facebook.com/terrence.seman Terrence Seman

    2014 civic type r, it will be turbo’d and make 280-300hp

  • Franco305

    I have a bad feeling of this new nsx :( why? Because is going to be a 6 cylinder hybrid. Pretty much a 6 cylinder rear wheel drive, with heavy batteries that will give torque to the front wheels when need it. I will instead go with a supercharge 6 cylinder (could you imagine a dohc 3.8L vtec engine with a supercharger?!!) or an 8 cylinder rear wheel drive, with the same concept of the electric motors (a high rev engine with bigger displacement will make you forget about those electric motors). If they are trying to do what they did in the new honda cr-z, they will fail (even top gear had a bad review on the cr-z). Those batteries do give the car extra hp and torque, but add weight and don’t last for too long. Nowadays all super cars come with 500hp at least! I hope they keep the real legacy of the nsx, or come up with something that will really blow our minds. Oh one more thing, who is Ted Klaus? They need someone like Ayton Senna (r.i.p.) to develop this car.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Choy/513755913 Howard Choy

    Tell me that this won’t be a J-series engine… It’s an outdated V6 designed in the US. Still uses a timing belt!

  • Benjamin Muhitch

    Prove it.

  • Benjamin Muhitch

    I doubt that they’ll be making a new Integra any time soon. The ILX isn’t selling well. Everybody’s just calling it “a Civic with leather”. If Acura can’t sell a 4 door entry level model then they’re certainly not going to spend any time or money producing a 2 door version. Acura wants to be thought of as luxury now, not “boy racer” like the Civic Si…

  • http://www.facebook.com/josh.espinal.3 Josh Espinal

    j series is a sohc used for economy with a 60 degree layout sometimes missing vtec.. Nsx used a c series 35b with a dohc 90 degree layout.. Going j series is going backwards..

  • http://www.facebook.com/josh.espinal.3 Josh Espinal

    your missing the point what Honda is doing here preparing hybrid technology to compete in races, and removing the dependancy on gas, you can see the future being played out in front of you. I wish I could afford.

  • anewbus

    Since when was the S2000 an affordable car? base MSRP for the car in 2008 was just under 35 grand…

  • Oscar

    Let’s hope that IF honda decides to build an RSX successor that it ISN’T turbocharged. Turbocharging sucks. Ruins lives. Destroys families.

  • Vengeance

    C30A and C32B, not 35.

  • sonic91

    the chief engineer is not a japanese? Now, that’s new for a japanese auto company. Maybe, it’s because the NSX will be built in US, not in japan.

  • ColumWood

    There will be a new Civic Type R. Honda has confirmed it. And it’s ALMOST confirmed that it will use a turbocharged engine. Honda has said they expect it will be the fastest FWD car at the Nurburgring. To do that… it will need quite a bit of power.

  • test driver

    I guess the beak is staying..:-(

  • Gavin

    Nowadays all supercars come with 500 hp? Really? The most powerful production Lotus ever still doesn’t have 500hp. The Audi R8 doesn’t have 500 hp (unless you pony up for a V10). Corvette’s don’t have 500hp (unless, like the Audi, you get a special version). The Porche 911 also doesn’t hit 500 (unless you go all out with a 911 Turbo or GT3).

    If you’re talking about super exotics that cost a quarter/half a million dollars and up I’m not sure why since they are not competitors of the NSX, R8, Porsche 911, GT-R or any car mentioned in the article you are commenting on.

    As for “keeping the real legacy of the NSX” having a 500hp monster would be the opposite of that. The NSX has always been about being a light car with a super high hp/liter ratio but it never was anywhere near the top of the class in overall power.

  • beltless

    Honda needs to bring their v6 engines into the new century. Any engine that still has a belt inside the engine and doing a critical function is outdated, very much obsolete. The V6 is very much overdue for a change.

  • Solaymon

    If they wanted it to be like a GTR but a drivers car than they should have given it a proper manual gearbox

  • 2FLASHY

    Aryton Senna set the tone on the NSX cuz i got a 91 NSX i tell u the American Muscle or Europe Car Drivers they always challange me but the finesse of the car always has them chasein and only thing im missing is a supercharger and have all the other Mods and still i dont need a supercharger

  • CaLiCRiS

    I have a 2005 Acura RSX Type S, and its such a fun car. It would be great if they brought it back.

  • Kinetis

    It’s coming. Start saving now! They are tight lipped on the little one. I’d expect them all to arrive in 2015, at the same time as their return to F1.

  • Mick

    It cost thousands less than a Boxster and Z3 but was as fast or faster

  • Mick

    You make minimum wage in the US? That’s shitty. Here in Canada the minimum wage is about $9-$11 an hour though I have always made $1-$5 or more an hour than that anyway.

  • Mick

    Great car but Acura (Honda) needs to give the Acura line up a sporty coupe with at least 220hp and/or RWD