The 2017 Acura NSX Is a Hybrid For Hybrid Haters

The new Acura NSX may be a science project, but it can also do skids. Is that even legal?

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The 2017 Acura NSX Is a Hybrid For Hybrid Haters © The 2017 Acura NSX Is a Hybrid For Hybrid Haters

The new Acura NSX couldn’t be more opposite to the original NSX if it drove upside-down. The original sports car’s legend was built on elegant design, light weight, and mechanical simplicity. The new NSX hybrid is an engineering exercise whose performance maps directly to its computing power, the likes of which would have cost millions of dollars--and a school bus-sized cluster of processors--when the first NSX arrived in 1990.

This week on /DRIVE on NBC Sports, we take a look at the electric-vehicle future, and at the hybrid sports cars developed while we're waiting for that future to arrive. Those hybrids are massively complex undertakings—far more complex than an electric car alone—their staggering performance delivered by filling in turbocharged internal combustion engines’ torque holes with the thing electric motors do best: instant twist.

One of those hybrids is the Acura NSX, developed by Honda of America in Ohio. The project had been in the works for nearly a decade. Engineers tucked into a few blind alleys before settling on a powertrain setup: a longitudinal V6 boosted by a torque-fill electric motor—mashed between engine and a 9-speed, dual-clutch transmission—and an independent twin-motor drive system that delivers precise torque vectoring to each front axle.

NSX purists have chided the new version of the latest “New Sports car eXperimental” as a science-fair entry that sacrifices driving feel on the altar of technology. It’s a valid point, considering the damped steering — to smooth the constant vectoring of motor torque between wheels—and the drive-by-wire regenerative braking. So many once-simple functions are now just approximations, created to accommodate the onward creep of systems and sensors and software.

The result is a 573-hp (total among the electric motors and  3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6), entry-supercar that’s not only a technology showcase, but as Matt Farah found out, can also do skids.

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