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Detroit auto show: Acura unveils new halo car, the NSX Concept

January 09, 2012|By David Undercoffler, Auto Critic
  • Acura unveiled the NSX Concept at the 2012 Detroit auto show. It's powered by a V-6 engine and a pair of electric motors.
Acura unveiled the NSX Concept at the 2012 Detroit auto show. It's… (Geoff Robins / AFP/Getty…)

Like angels, every automaker should have a halo. The halo is the supercar that establishes the brand's cachet and pushes the respective maker's design and performance philosophies to their extremes. Features and aesthetics bestowed upon these aspirational products then trickle down into the rest of the company's products.

Since 2005, Honda and its luxury division Acura have been without such a halo car. That ended Monday in Detroit with the Acura NSX Concept.

The concept previews the Acura NSX, which the company says it will build within the next three years (in Ohio, no less). It builds on the philosophy established by Acura's 1990-2005 NSX: that an optimum power-to-weight ratio is better than just raw power.

PHOTOS: Highlights from the Detroit Auto Show

Like that previous version, this NSX will have a mid-mounted V-6 engine. Power figures haven't been released, but the VTEC engine will feature direct-injection and will send power to the rear wheels via a dual-clutch transmission.

But wait, there's more! At the front of the car are a pair of electric motors that send power directly to the two front wheels. These motors can generate negative or positive torque to the front wheels (torque-vectoring).

For those doing the math at home, this means the NSX Concept is all-wheel drive, and indeed Acura attached to the concept its corporate name for all-wheel drive -- "Super Handling All-Wheel Drive." Cape and tights are not included.

Aesthically, the NSX Concept is a winner, and here's hoping Acura changes very little when it brings the car to market. Its profile is similar to the Audi R8, also a mid-engine car and one that will likely be a key competitor to the NSX.

Designers were even able to graft onto the front of the NSX the oft-maligned brushed-metal grille that adorns current Acuras. Perhaps by the time the car hits showrooms, the company will have moved on from this choice to a new look.

PHOTOS: Highlights from the Detroit Auto Show

A halo car would be the perfect place to introduce it.

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