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2021 Acura NSX review: Electrifying soul stirrer

When speed and all-out performance are a vehicle’s primary mission, there’s always a risk of it becoming cold and disconnected. Many supercars have fallen into that trap and some haven’t been able to get out. The 2021 Acura NSX has shown that with a little refinement and making sure the entire car works in cohesion, a techie hybrid supercar can stir your senses. After receiving several meaningful chassis and powertrain tweaks for the 2019 model year, the NSX has come alive.

2021 Acura NSX exterior

2021 Acura NSX rear 01 1
Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

One look at the 2021 NSX and you’ll immediately realize its true intent: a showcase of Honda/Acura engineering prowess. From its low, road-hugging stance to its functional flying buttresses and carbon fiber rear spoiler, this machine attracts attention, especially in the vibrant Long Beach Blue Pearl exterior color of our test vehicle. Five years into its current generation, the NSX has aged well. The front fascia with Acura’s signature jewel eye LED headlights, the full width LED taillights and mid-engine proportions leave no doubt that this supercar still looks modern.

2021 Acura NSX interior and tech features

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

As typical with a car that’s under four feet in height, ingress and egress can be difficult for tall people especially in tight spaces where you also need to take into account the long doors. Once you’re in, you’ll immediately notice the driver-centric layout. The NSX’s steering wheel is perfectly aligned, meaning your arms and hands are in a comfortable position, never outstretched with your elbows locked. Every control on the center stack is just a few inches away, allowing the driver to easily reach them.

Both seats are positioned to give you excellent visibility. The only major blind spot is in the right rear; otherwise, you get an expansive view out, which is rare in supercars. When the going gets quick, the thrones hold you in place nicely. They provide excellent support and cushioning, meaning you’ll be comfortable in them even if you’re in traffic. Fit and finish, while solid, could be better for a six-figure vehicle because it doesn’t exude the premium feel you expect. Better materials and unique design details could make the cabin feel a little more special.

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The only part that makes the NSX’s interior feel slightly dated is the infotainment system. You get a 7.0-inch touch screen and no volume or tuning knobs. Responses are slow, hinting at its age. Some of the climate controls are also split, meaning you need to hit the climate button and go into the touch screen to adjust things like fan speed. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and using the steering wheel controls minimize the learning curve associated with this unit.

The interior quibbles are minor once you get on the road and do what the NSX was born to do: drive. Together with the crisp nine-speaker ELS audio system that’s tuned with the two-seat cabin in mind, you’re in for an intoxicating experience regardless of the soundtrack you choose.

2021 Acura NSX driving impressions

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

On the road is where the NSX comes alive. This car hardwires itself to the driver; you feel connected with it regardless of whether you’re casually cruising or driving spiritedly. Turn the steering wheel and the car reacts quickly with laserlike precision; it goes exactly where you want it to. The suspension with its magnetic dampers soaks up bumps with a level of finesse unexpected from a supercar — and that’s in both Sport and Sport+ modes. You get a slightly stiffer ride in the latter but it’s still compliant enough that no one would think you’re insane for daily driving an NSX in that mode.

Getting out of the city’s confines and into the solace of your favorite winding road unlocks the NSX’s true potential and character. With 573 hp and 476 lb-ft of torque combined from its sweet-sounding 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, three electric motors, and a 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery, this machine provides smooth, effortless acceleration as it wails to its 7,500-rpm redline. There’s zero turbo lag, too, thanks to the electric motors’ assist, resulting in linear power delivery across the rev range.

Regardless of which mode you’re in, the nine-speed dual-clutch automatic snaps through cogs quickly. When left to its devices, the gearbox is a mind reader, always giving you the right gear when you need it and blips the throttle when you downshift. In full manual mode, the transmission responds instantly to your inputs. Regardless of how you drive the NSX, you always have a wave of unrelenting power under your right foot thanks to the cohesively tuned powertrain. A custom drive mode option would be nice, though, that way drivers can put the powertrain and chassis into full attack mode while still keeping the traction and stability control active to some degree.

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The wonderfully tuned suspension allows the NSX to carve roads like a precision scalpel, allowing the car to come alive in your hands. Between the lack of body roll, sticky tires, outstanding stability, and the AWD system’s grip, slicing through corners happens at an alarming rate and puts a big grin on your face. Credit the car’s balance and mid-engine layout for making sure all the weight is in the center of the vehicle. The electric motors are a big reason why the NSX drives superbly. They can overdrive each wheel and provide torque vectoring to improve overall handling. You feel it, too. When exiting a corner, the rear gently rotates as the front pulls the car around, allowing you to rocket out.

2021 Acura NSX pricing

The 2021 Acura NSX starts at $159,495. With the red brake calipers, carbon fiber spoiler, and satellite radio, our test vehicle cost $164,695. Other options include carbon fiber interior and exterior packages, carbon-ceramic brakes, full leather upholstery, and a carbon fiber engine cover.

Final verdict

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Photo credit: Stefan Ogbac / EV Pulse

As a whole package, the 2021 Acura NSX deserves its status as a flagship supercar. The best part is how the car makes you, the driver, feel. While most modern performance cars focus on speed, lap times, and cornering capability, the NSX adds something that’s getting harder to find: emotion. From the impeccable road manners to the sweet-sounding powertrain, piloting the NSX through your favorite winding roads is a euphoric experience that you want to feel over and over again. It’s a sensation that you don’t want to stop, a healthy high that puts a massive smile on your face. This is what driving fun should be and the NSX delivers in spades thanks to every component working in complete harmony. The fact that you can comfortably daily drive one makes it that much better.

At a glance

  • Year: 2021
  • Make: Acura
  • Model: NSX
  • Type: 2-door, mid-engine, AWD, coupe
  • Combined horsepower: 573
  • Combined torque: 476 lb-ft
  • MPG ratings (city/highway/combined): 21/22/21
  • Pros: Outstanding ride and handling balance, lag-free acceleration
  • Cons: Dated infotainment system, no custom drive mode
  • Base price: $159,495
  • Price as tested: $164,695
Written by Stefan Ogbac
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