A new video from Acura explores the relationship between the Acura NSX supercar and its race-winning counterpart, the NSX GT3 Evo. Currently #1 in the IMSA GT Daytona (GTD) point standings, NSX GT3 Evo driver Trent Hindman of Meyer Shank Racing demonstrates the distinctive approaches to performance of the two cars in 0-60 runs, braking tests, ease-of-use evaluations and, of course, ultimate lap times at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The production NSX showcases its strengths as a supercar designed to run with the world’s best exotics, while the NSX GT3 Evo demonstrates its chops as a purpose-built, razor-sharp race machine. Hindman’s conclusion: the NSX was born to be made into a brilliant race car.
Born to Race
One glance tells you the production NSX and NSX GT3 have much in common. After all, GT competition standards require race cars to maintain much of the same exterior character of their production counterparts. But the similarities are much more than skin deep. In fact, while the two are actually uniquely skinned – the production model with aluminum and composite panels, the GT3 dressed predominantly in exposed carbon fiber – they share more than 80-percent of their underlying component parts, reflecting the fact that racing was an essential part of the plan from the earliest stages of the NSX development.
“We knew from the outset that the second generation NSX would be tested at the highest limits on track,” said Ted Klaus, who served as global development leader for the second generation NSX and was recently named president of Honda Performance Development, the North American race engineering arm of Acura Motorsports. “Competitive racing was an essential consideration during NSX development, which influenced critical decisions we made regarding the car’s fundamental design.”
A Foundation for Speed
The largest and most foundational shared component is the NSX’s ultra-rigid, lightweight, aluminum-intensive space frame, which the GT3 uses in competition without significant modification. In designing the NSX body structure, engineers were keenly aware that exceptional rigidity was essential to the performance of NSX, enabling its sharp and immediate responses to driver inputs and amplifying the capacities of its hybrid power unit and electric torque vectoring system.
The NSX and NSX GT3 Evo space frames are constructed at Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Marysville, Ohio. The PMC is the first plant in the automotive world to utilize 100-percent robotic MIG welding for body construction. In this unique approach, eight high-precision robots are used in concert with specially designed rotisserie-style jigs to apply 860 MIG welds with incredible precision. The PMC also monitors quality variances in the space frame’s tolerance down to the width of a human hair.
A Tale of Two Power Units
A next generation supercar is worthy of a next generation powertrain. The NSX road car combines a bespoke 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 and world’s only 9-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) with a three motor Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® system, working in concert to produce 5732 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque. Unlike other hybrid supercars, not only is electric power used to fill the “torque well” of a turbocharged engine, the NSX’s front-mounted Twin Motor Unit (TMU) is capable of delivering both positive and negative torque independently to the front wheels. In this respect, the production NSX stands alone in the universe of supercars past and present: the only exotic using electric motors to enhance every element of dynamic performance – acceleration, braking and cornering.
By contrast, the NSX GT3 Evo, in keeping with the rear-drive-only requirement of GT3 competition, eschews the production model’s hybrid componentry, relying solely on a lightly modified version of the production model’s 3.5-liter twin turbocharged V6 engine. Like the NSX body, the NSX’s bespoke engine was designed from the outset to support racing applications, and the GT3 engine is remarkably similar to its street-able counterpart, using the same design specifications as the engine in the production NSX, including the block, heads, valvetrain, crankshaft, pistons and dry-sump lubrication system. The race engine is paired with a six-speed, sequential-shift racing gearbox, delivering power to the rear wheels. Both the NSX road and race engines are meticulously hand assembled by a small group of master technicians in a purpose-built facility at the company’s engine manufacturing plant in Anna, Ohio.
NSX GT3 Winning Globally
Since its debut in early 2017, the NSX GT3 and GT3 Evo have tackled some of the world’s most iconic GT races, including the 24 Hours of Daytona and Spa; the 12 Hours of Sebring; Petit Le Mans; and the FIA GT World Cup in Macau. Currently, the NSX GT3 Evos campaigned by Meyer Shank Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship lead the points for both Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships in the GTD class. In the Blancpain GT World Challenge America series, the NSX GT3 Evo has earned six pro-am wins with three different teams (3-Racers Edge, 2-RealTime Racing, 1-Gradient Racing). Around the world, the NSX GT3 Evo driven by Autobacs Racing Team (ARTA) leads the GT300 class in the Japanese Super GT series with two podium finishes. Additionally, the NSX GT3 Evo has competed in the Blancpain GT Series Asia, China GT Championship, select events in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the Blancpain GT Sports Club and GT Series in Europe, and the ADAC GT Masters in Germany.