Acura NSX’s Launch Control System Will Scramble Your Organs

What does the Acura NSX feel like blasting down a quarter-mile dragstrip? In one word, fierce.

Putting this Japanese exotic’s Launch Mode to the test is as simple as it is entertaining. Without even trying, I managed an elapsed time of 11.3 seconds with a trap speed of 122 miles an hour and change. Naturally, with a better reaction time, those numbers would have been even more impressive. Still, they’re nothing short of blazing and damn astounding for a street-going coupe you can comfortably drive every day.


Of course, before annihilating the 13-20 you need to get off the line, and Track mode is your gateway to organ-scrambling launches. Accessing this aggressive setting is a snap, or rather, a twist. Just call it up through the NSX’s Integrated Dynamics System by twirling and holding the chunky silver knob at the base of the center stack for a few seconds. Of its four driving modes, this is the car’s most aggressive, though Quiet, Sport, and Sport+ each have their place.

Though not at a dragstrip. Once in the Track setting, it’s wise to draw a bead on some straight pavement, you won’t want to attempt this on anything with curves; San Francisco’s Lombard Street is definitely out. After this, you just firmly apply the brakes with your left foot and bury the accelerator with a spare appendage. Then, when ready, release the left pedal and hang on tight.

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The NSX’s tenacious all-wheel-drive grip and instantaneous electric torque get you moving in a hurry, firmly but smoothly shoving you into the backrest with the determined heave. Amazingly, as velocity increases, those invisible hands don’t stop pressing on your sternum until you back off the accelerator. This road-going beast keeps you squeezed for the entire quarter mile, and likely far beyond.


Providing the thrust is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 with an unusual 75-degree angle between each bank of cylinders. Spinning to a banshee-howling 7,500-rpm redline, it’s augmented by a trio of electric motors and small lithium-ion battery pack. Peak system output clocks in at 573 horsepower. Connecting this masterpiece of an engine to the car’s rear tires is a speedy nine-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Random factoid: with a dry-sump lubrication system, the NSX has four separate oil drain plugs. Keep that in mind if you fancy doing your own maintenance. Also, she takes synthetic 0W-40, good to know should you find yourself on Jeopardy! in 20 years’ time and “Antiquated Hybrid Cars” is a category.

Despite its borderline stupefying speed, this exotic Acura is an incredible daily driver and an extremely livable coupe. It’s relatively easy to get into and out of, has comfortable seats and generous – for a supercar – outward visibility thanks to its broad windshield, low hood, and narrow A-pillars.


One major component that enables this overall flexibility is the NSX’s magnetorheological shocks. Dan Hassler, suspension and steering dynamics engineer at Honda said these cutting-edge components can change their damping rate every one or two milliseconds, reacting in an instant to varying road conditions.

Additionally, this arrangement can preemptively counteract body roll by monitoring steering inputs, stiffening the dampers on one side of the vehicle to prevent listing like an old wooden ship caught in a squall.

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“Overall there are two damper modes,” said Hassler. “One covers Quiet and Sport, and the other one covers Sport+ and Track.” Curiously, the driver cannot select whatever damper setting he or she wants; they’re tailored to these settings in the Integrated Dynamics System. Hassler explained, “Because of [the]… advanced SH-All-Wheel Drive, which controls the vehicle yaw rate from the front axle, because of that you actually have to have dampers and steering that match… otherwise, it becomes non-linear.”


A predictable, controllable feel was the key dynamic attribute engineers wanted to ace during the development of the NSX. “Linearity is key for driver confidence,” said Hassler. Whether you’re on a track, navigating corners or tiptoeing over icy pavement, “The car is very predictable and easy to drive.”

That’s something I can attest to after taking a few stabs at the quarter mile. The Acura NSX always remains poised and balanced, whether trundling along a country road or blasting down the 13-20. For better or worse, it was constantly goading me to go faster and faster. Now, if I could only work on my reaction time.

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