Boston Globe Sept 13 98

Boston Globe

 Author: By John R. White, Globe Staff
 Date: SUNDAY, September 13, 1998
 Page: J1
 Section: Automotive

"A toy for the rich…."

The tour with the NSX is a revisit after a long hiatus; not since 1990, shortly after its introduction, has the columnist’s derriere graced the cockpit of this super car from the high-end division of Honda. Since then, there have been significant changes – not the least of which is price.

Introduced at the then extravagant $64,000 level, the NSX now begins at $84,000 and steps briskly to $88,000 (plus $725 destination) for the NSX-T, an NSX with a detachable hardtop. Oxygen, please. That’s a lot of money for a mid-engine two-seater styled like a doorstop. [ed. note: Introduced at $60,000 MSRP]

The original tour with the NSX involved a drive to Cleveland and back, during which the traction control failed, and an encounter with black ice on Interstate 84 in Pennsylvania, where the antilock brakes failed. There is a strong case to be made for omitting ABS on a sports car, a case severely weakened in this country by the appallingly poor state of what passes for driver training. [ed. note: ABS can’t do anything for you on black ice, period. There is no traction to work with.]

That early NSX not only offered this writer a sudden opportunity to contemplate eternity but also proved an uncomfortable, back-killer in the bargain. This summer’s encounter with an NSX-T proved comfortable, enjoyable, and offered no brush with immortality – but at $88K there’s no chance I’ll ever covet one.

Acura offers a choice of transmission: a 4-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. There is no difference in price, but there is a difference in engine. The automatic is mated to a 2.997-liter V-6, the manual with a 3.197 V-6, basically the same engine in all respects except power and displacement. The tested manual model seemed not so much a car as an airplane permanently constrained to the bounds of ground effect – in the words of a more precise colleague: It boogies.

It also handles superbly.

A far cry from the early model, the seats in this edition were paragons of comfort – no need to keep the chiropractor’s number handy. The dash currently is less cluttered than I remembered it, and radio and air conditioning feature knobs. Simplicity itself. [ed. note: Seats and dash are unchanged since introduction.. What is this author talking about?]

OK it’s fast, fun, and a blast to drive, but it’s not exactly perfection on wheels – at least not if you consider getting in or out of an NSX. The NSX-T offers better entry/exit, if you leave the roof off; with a roof, entry or exit can be painful – watch your head and prepare to bend like a pretzel. If you’re planning to bring anything with you, make sure it’s small, like the trunk.

There was a mechanical lapse of sorts; the fuel-door release didn’t, requiring your reporter to resort to the can-opener blade of a Swiss Army knife to assist in refueling. This was accomplished without marring so much as the paint on the edge of the fuel door. Fuel mileage was a pleasant surprise; this ground rocket delivered 24.2 miles per gallon over 560 miles of spirited driving – on premium, of course.

On balance, the NSX-T is fun in the sun, but I still wouldn’t trust it past September.

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