Payne: Wicked 600-hp Acura NSX Type S saves the best for last

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 17, 2022

Southfield — The Acura NSX is galloping off into the sunset in style. For its last model year, the NSX gets a Type S performance model with 600 horsepower, carbon-fiber roof, sticky Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tires and quicker shifting.

Awesome. But can we talk styling?

As one of world’s rare mid-engine supercars — and one of only two Made in the USA (the other is the Corvette C8 in Kentucky) — the NSX’s conservative wardrobe always appeared a mismatch for the sinewy, all-wheel-drive hybrid turbo-V6 sci-fi beast underneath.

Walk up to a C8 and its shard-like headlights stare at you hungrily. Come across a Lamborghini Huracan and it looks like Smaug the Dragon on the verge of burning down Middle Earth. The NSX? It has the face of a Honda Accord.

Not the Type S. This thing looks wicked. For its last hurrah, Acura has remade the front and rear clips of its supercar for proper menace. The headlights — 12 LED projectors glowing inside — are now visually separated from the gaping grille and underlined by gaping gills. A huge diffuser hangs out back.

More:Final assembly: On the Ohio line with the last Acura NSX Type S supercar

Now that’s a proper supercar. Like an alien insectoid come to earth to consume all our asphalt roads.

Type S and I did a lot of consuming.

Over northern Oakland County’s twisty lake roads, I nailed the throttle and the V-6 howled with pleasure. Slinging NSX around a 180-degree Telegraph Road turn, I stomped the gas. More howling. Out of a stoplight on a vacant rural two-lane, I initiated launch control for a 2.9-second 0-60 mph sprint. Hooowwwwl!

The 2022 Acura NSX Type S features a 600-horse, 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 mated to a 9-speed auto transmission.

With 492 pound-feet of thrust, the hybrid all-wheel-drive drivetrain is a joy. Despite the resulting 3,900 pounds of girth, the supercar’s low center of gravity makes it feel sucked to the road. It’s learned at the feet of the NSX GT3 race car (still competitive on the IMSA circuit). Given that it was introduced in 2017, the NSX’s interior design is dated given the relentless industry electronics race — but also since NSX’s signature cyclops driver mode button and trigger shifter are being phased out in other Acura/Honda products. But it’s still unusual, a reminder of the NSX’s ambitions when it was rolled out as a $160,000 hybrid supercar with tech previously found on the $1 million Porsche 918.

Despite its technological prowess, NSX was a sales disappointment, moving just 2,548 copies globally over its five-year run. Though cheap for the hybrid supercar class, it had to compete against comparably priced cyborgs like the flat-6-fired $160K Porsche 911 GT3. Ohhhh, knees. Getting. Weak.

But while the stiff, wailing 911 GT3 feels like it wants to race all day long, the NSX Type S is a lovely daily driver, starting with its Toyota Prius-like preference to sneak out my driveway on battery power in Quiet mode.

The interior of the 2022 Acura NSX Type S features a rotary knob for drive modes and a trigger shifter.

Dial up cyclops to Sport, Sport Plus and Track modes, and the engine tone gets sharper, the magnetic dampers firmer. Two personalities, one supercar. A St. Louis pal had to trade in his 911 GT3 after a year for a 911 Targa because he wanted more comfort.

Just don’t plan on going too far in the Type S. Its tiny 4.4 cubic feet of trunk space won’t hold much more than toiletries for a date weekend. Frunk-equipped peers like the McLaren GT and 911 are more accommodating.

My friend Kevin has owned everything from Lambo Aventadors to Ferrari F8s, and he fell in love with the Type S.

“I like this better than the Ferrari,” he said while driving over the oxcart-rough roads of Southfield. In Track mode, the Type S porpoised over the bumps. Then we dialed it back to Sport, and the car was more domesticated — the ferocious, battery-assisted torque always at the ready when needed.

The Acura NSX Type S options carbon ceramic brakes for just, ahem, $13,000 as part of the carbon package.

Just weeks after my jaunt in a loaded $185,000 Gotham Gray Matte Type S, Chevrolet introduced the performance version of its Made in America supercar — the Corvette Z06.

The 670-horse, V8-powered Z06 has an 8,000-RPM exhaust note from the gods, 2.6-second 0-60 mph time, Stealth mode and 12.6 cubic feet of cargo room. For $166K loaded ($127K base). Oh.

The rear of the 2022 Acura NSX Type S gets a carbon aerofoil and diffuser.

The ‘Vette will probably sell as many copies in a year as NSX sold in its lifetime. Which speaks to why Acura couldn’t translate its supercar into super sales. Still, the halo-car NSX has transformed Acura back into a performance brand. Everything from the RDX SUV to the entry-level Integra now carries its DNA.

And with its final, 2022 run of 350 copies, NSX has finally found its halo. The Type S is the best-looking NSX ever.

2022 Acura NSX Type S

Vehicle type: Mid-engine, all-wheel drive two-passenger sports car

Price: $171,495 base ($192,495 as tested)

Powerplant: 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V-6 with three electric-motor hybrid assist

Power: 600 combined horsepower, 492 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Nine-speed dual-clutch

Performance: 0-60 mph, 2.9 seconds (Car & Driver); top speed, 191 mph (mfr.)

Weight: 3,898 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA 21 mpg city / 22 mpg highway / 21 combined

Report card

Highs: Best-looking NSX made; supercar performance for under $200K

Lows: Small cargo space; less performance than cheaper Corvette Z06

Overall: 3 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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