Rejoice! There’s now an even faster, even better-handling Acura supercar than there was last year. All is well with the world.
Acura debuted the Type S edition of its quarter-million-dollar NSX hybrid halo car Thursday at Monterey Car Week in California. The important things to know are that it now produces 600 hp, up by 27 hp from last year’s car, and 492 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 16 lb-ft. The twin turbochargers are tuned for a 5.6 per cent increase in boost, while the hybrid battery has 20 per cent more capacity and 10 per cent more output.
Relax – there won’t be a test later. These numbers are better, always better, but you’re not likely to notice any difference in the power unless you’re a race driver wailing down the back straight. It will lap Suzuka two seconds more quickly than last year’s car, apparently, though I’m sure my own time will be considerably slower.
The retuned dual-clutch transmission upshifts 50 per cent faster, but then, the old transmission was already lightning fast. What’s clever is the new Rapid Downshift Mode: “When the paddle is held down for 0.6 seconds,” says Acura, “the transmission automatically selects the lowest possible gear for the vehicle’s speed, reducing the amount of time spent shifting and allowing the driver to apply throttle even more quickly.”
Forgive me if I don’t sound impressed. I should be, because these are truly impressive statistics, achieved through gobs of money being thrown at very, very smart research engineers and technicians. They’ve even figured out how to drop the weight of the NSX Type S by more than 26 kg, building the standard roof from carbon fibre and the standard brakes with carbon ceramic rotors.
Materials like these mean the hand-built-in-Ohio NSX will have an MSRP in Canada of $221,500. Only 300 will be made for global distribution and only 15 of those will come to Canada. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that this version is guaranteed to be highly collectible,” says the Honda Canada PR guy.
But often that’s all these supercars become: collectible. Wealthy people buy them and park them alongside their other sought-after vehicles. If they can refrain from actually driving them, they’ll be worth all the more down the road.
Robert Herjevic, the Canadian businessman who started as a Dragon’s Den dragon and became a shark on Shark Tank, told me once that he had a whole slew of vehicles parked in garages, kept under wraps for whenever they might gain in value. Do you ever drive them, I asked? No! he said. Do you realize how much that would cost in their devaluation?
After all, get it right with a limited-edition car and you can make a lot of money. A Ferrari Enzo that sold in 2003 for a million American dollars just sold for US$3.8 million, thanks partly to its rare paint scheme but mostly because it had just 353 miles on its odometer. There were only 399 Enzos built, though Ferrari had second thoughts and built a final car as a gift for the Pope. That Enzo, Number 400, was finished in the same rare colour scheme; it had just 180 km in total mileage when it was sold in 2015 for US$6 million.
(I’m sure it’s a challenge to accumulate high mileage in Vatican City. I can just picture that Enzo doing laps around St. Peter’s, vestments flapping through the shallow windows, on a late-night gelato run. But I digress …)
This will be an especially profitable time for collectible vehicles because their internal combustion days are numbered with the world’s progress toward electrification. As well, the world’s richest people are growing only richer, and there’s never been so much international money.
The NSX has been around as a three-motor hybrid performance car since 2016 and Acura has sold more than 2,800 of them around the world. About two-thirds are bought by Americans, but when was the last time you saw one on the road? Right – I rest my case.
There are really only two reasons for such cars to exist. One is to help cover the costs of all the research and development that filters down to ordinary vehicles. If Acura’s engineers can figure out a better hybrid battery system for the NSX, then some of that knowledge will make its way into a better hybrid battery system for the Honda Accord. This argument has been used for years to justify racing programs, and more power to it.
The other reason is to build the absolute best vehicle that is possible to construct and then call it a Type S, so that every other Acura that’s termed a Type S can know it shares that same pedigree. After all, Acura is rebranding itself now as a performance marque, as it used to be more than a decade ago, and the Type S is the pinnacle of that performance.
If there’s a Type S edition of the halo NSX, and it features truly remarkable performance, it doesn’t matter that its capability is out of the reach of almost every driver, and only a fraction of its worth is provable away from a racetrack. Let it sit on that shiny pedestal in some rich investor’s garage. It exists, and that’s all that matters.
And if you still have some money left over after buying your new NSX Type S, Lamborghini is expected to reveal a new Countach on Sunday, also at Monterey. It’s rumoured to be a hybrid V12 and to make almost 800 hp, and I’m sure it’s guaranteed to be highly collectible.