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The hybrid powertrain is the single thin thread tying the NSX to the rest of the Acura showroom. There isn’t a single legitimate sports sedan in the Acura lineup to bathe in the glow of the halo radiating from the NSX, and that seems unlikely to change anytime soon. Instead, Acura can only brag that the electric components are essentially a mirrored reflection of the system used in the RLX Sport Hybrid.
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Another older Acura model, the CL was produced in two generations, from 1997 to 1999, and again from 2001 to 2003. The CL was created originally as a replacement in the lineup for the discontinued Legend, but it never gained traction with consumers like the Legend or Integra did. Still, the CL was the second-fastest car Acura built, topping out at speeds of 153 miles per hour. The second generation was loaded with a 3.2-liter V6 engine, along with a choice of a 5-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. The Type S variant put out 260 horsepower, as opposed to 225 horses for the standard version. Regardless, after a decade out of the game, the CL still holds up as one of the fastest vehicles Acura ever developed.
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Taking the crown as Acura’s fastest car is the NSX, which was capable of speeds up to 190 miles per hour. Like previously mentioned, the NSX is being reintroduced for the 2015 model year with a slick redesign that will probably drop a lot of jaws. Produced between 1990 and 2005, the NSX was outfitted with an all-aluminum V6 engine that produced 290 horsepower and 224 pound-feet of torque. The next-generation NSX is expected to incorporate an all-wheel drive drivetrain into the mix, delivering even more performance and capability. By the end of its production run, Acura and Honda had only sold around 18,000 NSX units during a 15-year stretch, ultimately dooming it to discontinuation. However, critics are salivating over the car’s reintroduction, so we’ll have to wait and see if the NSX gets a better reception over the next couple of years than it did previously.
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Acura must have had some foresight when the company named this car the Legend, because it is still living up to that moniker to this day. The Legend is now an older model, produced between 1986 and 1996. Even almost 20 years after its discontinuation, the Legend ranks highly among all other Acura models, with a top speed of 135 miles per hour. The final generation used a 3.2-liter V6 engine to jet down the road behind 230 horsepower. The Legend gained notoriety in its heyday by being a favorite of rap artists, even being shown off by Ludacris in an episode of MTV Cribs.
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Acura resisted the temptation to provide a separate damper calibration for every drive mode, which is fine by us. The Germans often get mired in creating a ­different but similarly compromised tune for each drive mode. Based on feel alone, Acura’s two settings use a fairly narrow portion of the bandwidth afforded by magnetorheological dampers, with one position covering Sport-Plus and Track modes and a softer tune for Quiet and Sport.
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Acura could highlight the NSX’s electric hardware if it would mimic Tesla’s strategy of activating full regen braking when the driver lifts off the throttle, either in the less sporty driving modes or with a stand-alone, selectable option. One-pedal driving becomes another connection to the machine, allowing the driver to be an active participant in managing the battery charge and timing accelerator application with greater intention. If we were Acura, we’d consider it.
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From sporty little coupes to spacious SUVs, Acura has broadened its scope over the years to become more accessible to consumers. The company’s products aren’t typically known for setting speed records or getting off the beaten path. That doesn’t mean that Acura vehicles aren’t some of the more capable and efficient around, though. Next year, a new variant of the company’s NSX model is slated to hit dealerships, and it will immediately become one its the fastest vehicles available. Until then, there are still several models that can hit impressive speeds.
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Possibly the best-known of all Acura models, the Integra cracks the company’s top five speediest vehicles list. The Integra, much like the Honda Civic, is a favorite of modification enthusiasts, and it was met with much disappointment when it was announced that Acura would be discontinuing it in 2006, after a 20-year run. It would eventually turn into the precursor to the RSX in 2001. Later model years were equipped with a 2.0-liter inline four engine, producing around 200 horsepower. The Integra could hit a top speed of 140 miles per hour in the right conditions, and also go from 0-60 miles per hour in around 8 seconds.
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The NSX rarely wants to let its rear tires slip, and with 1.06 g’s of lateral grip from the Trofeo Rs, it rarely wants to slide the front tires, either. The handling balance is practically as harmless as in any Acura sedan, which some might interpret as the ultimate dis from a car magazine. It’s not intended as such here. You want a car that drifts every time you look sideways? Buy a V-8 Chevy Camaro. All-wheel drive and a mid-mounted engine are good at delivering buttoned-up composure. The NSX is no exception.
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Topping out at 137 miles per hour is Acura’s TSX, one of the company’s sportier cars. Although it’s not quite as quick as some of its siblings, the TSX gets the job done over the long haul. The car’s 0-60 time comes in at 7.8 seconds, and a 2.4-liter inline four engine produces around 201 horsepower. Those performance stats should put it behind other models in the rankings, namely the RLX, but the TSX is able to climb to a slightly higher top speed if given the opportunity; the TSX also faces a lot of competition from other manufacturers, which is where it ultimately falls short in aesthetics and performance. The TSX is by no means a bad car, but a redesign in the near future wouldn’t hurt.
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For Acura, the hybrid system that supplements the 500-hp V-6 plays perfectly to the character of the NSX, both old and new. Just like the original, the modern NSX is every bit as civilized as it is quick. The open sightlines, the wide cabin, and the seats that accommodate the average American are as notable in this class as are the electric motors that give it instant off-the-line thrust. It’s a supercar without a God complex, as unpretentious as a car with an engine behind the driver and a six-figure price on the window can possibly be.
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Emerging from the Integra’s ashes, the RSX hit the streets in the 2000s but was unable to climb to the levels of popularity of its predecessor. The RSX Type-S variant is the speediest version of the model (show above in its racing kit), topping out at 140 miles per hour, same as the Integra. The RSX-S put a 16-valve, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to work, achieving around 200 horsepower. The RSX Type-S is a bit quicker than the Integra, hitting 60 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds. For a sporty luxury car, the RSX-S comes with a price tag that won’t make you wince, either. The asking price was around $23,500, quite fair for an Acura model.
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Acura really stepped up its game when designing the TL, crafting a car that can hit a top speed of 150 miles per hour, well above the other vehicles on this list so far. A 3.5-liter V6 engine creates 280 horsepower and gets from 0-60 in 6.9 seconds. The TL comes with a long list of standard features to help the driving experience and smooth the ascent to 150 miles per hour, like fine-tuned suspension and steering systems, but an outdated design slows things down a bit. A performance package is available with a slightly bigger engine, but doesn’t improve on the top speed.
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Because there’s nothing “normal” about a 573-hp, torque-vectoring, gas-electric mid-engined Acura, engineers named the NSX’s default street mode “Sport.” It strikes us as a misnomer, though, because getting the NSX to accelerate enthusiastically in this mode requires big, deliberate throttle inputs. It’s best suited to urban settings, where the low-end torque of the electric motors—two up front and a third, larger unit mated to the engine—pulls the NSX off the line faster than traffic, but without spinning the engine much beyond 3000 rpm.
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If you were expecting to slice through town with the swift, mute moves of a Tesla, you’d be disappointed. With a small ­lithium-ion battery pack (Acura will only say its capacity is “approximately one kilowatt-hour”) and less than a Honda Civic’s worth of horsepower from the electric motors, the NSX rarely gets above walking speed without firing the engine. It prefers to ride the 3.5-liter V-6 to cruising speed and then sail on electrons up to 50 mph when the road is flat or downhill.
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If you’ve been dreaming of the next NSX, it’s time to wake up: It’s here in the form of a highly technical and utterly thrilling supercar. With weight-saving construction, a hybrid powertrain that has three electric motors and a mid-mounted twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 making a combined output of 573 hp, the NSX offers pulse-pounding performance paired with everyday usability. A nine-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel drive are standard. Jump to Instrumented Test – 2017 Acura NSX

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