Expert Reviews

2022 Acura NSX Type S First Drive Review

I could hear its turbochargers pshhh behind my left shoulder every time I let off the gas.

Cresting gingerly over a blind hill and greeted by yet another long, empty, slightly curved, sun-soaked backroad, I flicked the dual-clutch transmission down a couple gears, buried my foot into the gas pedal, and marvelled as the 2022 Acura NSX Type S rocketed itself to well over the legal speed limit. Guiding the mid-engine supercar into the bend, accelerator still pinned to the floor, the way it all moved and behaved felt predictable, weirdly familiar, and – in the interest of cutting to the chase – freakin’ fantastic.

Making this jaunt through the Texas countryside arguably even more blissful, I wasn’t supposed to drive this car. I was, in fact, in town for the first drive program for the all-new 2023 Acura Integra, and event organizers had parked this yellow NSX at the designated lunch spot purely for display purposes. However, because I’m a firm believer that you miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take, I semi-jokingly but politely asked the Acura folks whether I could take a break from front-wheel-drive compacts and go for a spin in the company’s flagship supercar. And, whaddaya know, they said yes. That day, Type S stood for serendipity.

The Power of Dreams

Well before I found myself unexpectedly sitting in its low slung driver’s seat, I already knew the NSX. I had read about it and fantasized about this very moment. I knew that it uses three electric motors, one aiding the combustion-driven rear axle and two up front – the latter visible when opening the front hood. I knew that a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged, 3.5L V6 did the heavy lifting. I knew that the entire system made 573 hp combined in the “regular” NSX, but for the Type S, Acura upped the ante to a nice, round 600. It increased the torque, too, by 16 lb-ft for a total 492.

Its turbos are taken right out of the NSX GT3 Evo race car, with six per cent more boost pressure, while a beefier hybrid battery also contributes to the increased might. Its nine-speed dual-clutch gearbox now upshifts 50 per cent quicker and features a new rapid downshift mode; hold down the left paddle and the transmission skips down to the lowest gear possible. New wheels contribute to a wider track and wear special H0-designation Pirelli P Zero tires that were developed specifically for this car.

A tweaked face removes the old corporate beak and improves airflow, while a standard carbon fibre roof lowers the centre of gravity and is part of an array of carbon bits that combine to cut more than 26 kg (57 lb) from the regular NSX’s curb weight.

Long story short, it’s the quickest-accelerating, most powerful road car the Honda Motor Co. has ever made.

For those who identify more as collectors than racers, the Type S is billed as the final version of this generation NSX. Only 350 will ever be built, and just 15 of those are earmarked for Canada. However you slice it, this is a special car.

On the Road

Let’s get one fact out of the way early: this is, objectively, a flippin’ fast car. But in a world full of violent electric vehicles (EVs) and deceptively speedy, autobahn-and-dragstrip dominating BMW M cars, the first second or so of the Acura NSX Type S’s launch control program feels almost tame in comparison. Turning the oversized drive mode dial into track, planting my foot on the brake and accelerator simultaneously, and quickly releasing the former, the pumped-up NSX spurts itself away from a dig almost gingerly for the first few km/h but once it gets going, it gets going. A hundred km/h arrives in 2.7 seconds and, given a long enough stretch of tarmac, it’ll top out at 307 km/h.

As capable as the 600-hp hybrid NSX is on the straights, it’s equally – if not even more – impressive in the corners. When the road gets bendy, the Type S NSX is, for a Honda fanatic like myself, a religious experience. It’s visceral like a proper exotic should be without being scary or particularly uncomfortable. The steering is quick and well-weighted without feeling twitchy, a vibe that’s emulated by the carbon ceramic brakes.

I mean this in the best way possible: it feels like modern Honda taken to its absolute peak. Like the best Hondas and Acuras, it feels light and precise in the hands, communicatively stable at high speeds, and is a genuine riot to wring out on a backroad. Its highly advanced electric torque vectoring fundamentally serves the same purpose as the Civic Type R’s witchcraft-grade limited-slip differential: let the car corner way quicker and way harder than it should. Unlike most Honda products, however, this all unfolds at proper supercar pace, which means unmentionably high speeds are reached alarmingly quickly and can be maintained without breaking a sweat.

Calm it down a touch and the NSX Type S is also livable – docile and light-steering pulling in and out of parking lots, and relatively easy to see out of. Its seats look appropriately sporty but aren’t any less comfortable to sit in than the ones in any other Acura, while the driving position is similarly purposeful-yet-unfussy. I feel like I could drive it for hours across provinces with my spine reasonably intact, not something I can say of admittedly more hardcore fare like the Lamborghini Huracan STO. It’s even got a quiet mode, which lets it travel on electricity alone under a certain speed.

Accessible Beauty

When you’re finished giving yourself endless rushes of decidedly comfy adrenaline, you can get out and flabbergast yourself over the fact that you’ve just been driving a car that looks like that. The NSX may not be the newest supercar out there but to me, it still looks fresh as heck. Its proportions are classic mid-engine supercar, but its details are sharp and gorgeously chiseled.

Over the course of its existence, a common criticism of the NSX was that its very obviously Honda-made interior didn’t feel special enough to warrant its six-figure price tag. (The Type S retails for $221,500, by the way, which felt like a lot of money right up until the moment I remembered that the decidedly less special Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo I tested last year cost $20,000 more.) While I do empathize that this Acura’s cabin may not feel as exotic as the digs inside of, say, a proper Italian exotic or even an Audi R8, there are upsides to its humble roots, too. Everything feels properly put together, nothing creaks, and there’s no learning curve to the controls. The digital instruments admittedly look a bit like a Lexus LFA cluster you bought off Alibaba but are clear and easy to parse nonetheless.

The Real Deal

Another common internet gripe with this car is the notion that it isn’t a “real” NSX – that it deviates too far from the original ’90s car’s recipe what with its automatic-only gearbox and hybrid motors. As someone who’s been fortunate enough to drive both an original model and now the final form of this modern interpretation, I’m telling you right now that the new NSX – in Type S form, at least, and purely from a driving experience standpoint – feels every bit like a proper sequel.

Despite its objectively complex system of three hybrid electric motors and all-wheel drive, it somehow doesn’t feel like a robotic tech-fest at all. Outside of that crawling-out-of-the-driveway EV mode, you don’t really hear or feel the presence of electricity, just an uncannily powerful V6 and a pair of very vocal race car turbos living inches behind your head sounding gruff, rough, and alive. Just like the original NSX, the whole car feels cohesive, adequately unfiltered, entertainingly natural, and forgivingly ordinary in everyday situations. They both feel quintessentially like Hondas of their respective eras in the best ways possible.

This modern hybrid NSX Type S trades some of the raw engagement of the original for modern supercar-crushing speed its forefather (in factory form, at least) could only dream of, but the gulf in engagement isn’t nearly as big as you’d expect. Behind the wheel, it indeed feels like a product of the first NSX’s lineage even though its stats and powertrain premise sound like anything but.

And even if that wasn’t the case, I’d direct your attention to the fact that “NSX” is an acronym for New Sportscar eXperimental. It is a car that, by definition, is allowed to change. Nay, it’s supposed to change. If Honda had simply resurrected the NSX back in 2016 as another mid-engine, naturally-aspirated V6 making around 300 hp and equipped with a manual transmission like much of Car Internet would’ve probably wanted, that wouldn’t be a car that could really be called a “New Sportscar eXperimental,” now would it? It would be an Old Sportscar Non-eXperimental. An OSNX. Not a real NSX.

Final Thoughts

Leaving behind the baggage of its predecessor, the 2022 Acura NSX Type S is the pinnacle of modern Honda. It takes what the company is good at – and has arguably always been good at – and wraps it up in a ludicrously quick, strikingly attractive, and satisfying-as-hell-to-drive supercar that can seriously hang with upper automotive echelon of today.

For an unashamed Honda nerd like myself – the first car I ever drove was a 1992 Accord, I currently own a 2004 S2000, and I flew to the other side of the world on my own dime to drive that NA1 NSX – driving this one felt a bit like meeting God. Getting to stomp around in the new NSX Type S was an unforgettable bucket-list Honda moment that can only be topped by, oh I dunno, lapping Suzuka in a museum-quality 2005 NSX-R…

Excuse me while I email my Honda rep about some ideas for the next press trip.