Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Acura NSX Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Acura NSX Overview

Body
Speed Follows Fashion

The NSX is Acura's super performance car intended to challenge the likes of the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 and Jaguar XKR. Though the NSX is getting up in years, Acura's unwavering dedication to this low production vehicle has helped keep it competitive in one of the most fickle and unpredictable segments of the automobile market.

Age not withstanding, the NSX is still a stunning vehicle to look at. Its Ferrari-like design cannot be denied, yet there is a strong element of distinctive Acura styling that gives the NSX its dynamic road presence. From its new flush-mounted front headlamps to the removable targa roof panel to the large rear wing, the NSX is unmistakable at any distance. You'll also find a slew of new colors this year, including an attractive deep burnt orange called Ioma Orange Pearl and a fiery new Formula Red. New ultra-light 17-inch alloy wheels nicely finish off the NSX's alluring exterior.

Inside, the NSX interior is as rich and comfortable as any Acura luxury car. Standard equipment includes an excellent Bose audio system that sounds terrific, but really could stand to lose the cassette deck in favor of an in-dash CD; the NSX also features automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, 4-way power driver and passenger seats and a transponder encoded key that prevents the vehicle from being started even with a duplicate non-transponder encoded key.

Slip behind the NSX's wheel and you'll find the amazing sport seats so accommodating it's hard to imagine anyone not finding a comfortable driving position; during hard driving, the seats also serve to hold your body firmly in place. You'll find yourself sitting low in the NSX, though with the targa roof panel in place, headroom for the very tall is tight. The steering wheel and instrument panel also sit low, affording you an excellent view of the road through the enormous front windshield. The instrument cluster, center stack and steering wheel design have a clear bias toward mid-90s styling, but again Acura has found a way to overcome this look by offering no less than 8 different interior colors coordinated to match almost all of the exterior paint choices.

Whatever little quibbles you have with the NSX will quickly evaporate the first few minutes the car is in motion. Once you get the Acura out in the open—and for many of you that will mean a professional track or autocross field—you'll find you could care less if Acura gave you little more than a single vinyl seat and transistor radio taped to the dash; from this point on, it's all about motion. The 3.2-liter V6 sings sweetly as you work the tightly-spaced six speed shifter. Oh how easy it all feels; the clutch engages without so much as hiccup while the drive-by-wire throttle smoothly telegraphs your intentions to the engine that responds with an unearthly burst of speed. When you've got the NSX up and running, it's hard to believe that there are only 290 horses under the hood—well, technically under the rear deck as the NSX is a mid-engine vehicle. The NSX accelerates, brakes and turns like nothing else on the road, it's really that good. And when you're not driving the NSX at the track, it still makes for a very comfortable daily driver, touting a firm but very livable ride on all but the most uncared for road surfaces.

For those not interested in a manual transmission, Acura offers a sequential Sportshift four-speed automatic that lets you shift without the use of a clutch pedal; NSX's so equipped come with a less powerful 252-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine.

We know much is made of the NSX's styling and its impressive engine, but the true unsung hero is this cars suspension setup; without it, the NSX would be just another straight-line thrill ride. Balance is what makes for a great performance car and the Acura engineers have outdone themselves here. Having the engine midpoint definitely does a lot to improve traction (the engine's weight over the rear wheels helps them grip better) and the aerodynamic body shell doesn't hurt either, but the true wizardry that allows the NSX to move so quickly can be found right behind the wheels. The NSX mimics the Formula One race car design that places coil over shocks in conjunction with upper and lower double-wishbone control arms; nitrogen filled progressive shocks and lightweight aluminum components complete the suspension package.

The bottom line is that neither time nor money (the NSX lists for close to $90K) has dampened this car's enthusiasm for bringing true joy to wannabe racecar drivers everywhere.

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