The 2016 Acura NSX is nearly ready to hit the roads, and the fact that it’s the most exciting car from Honda in a very long time has us all sorts of giddy. Now they’ve released all the technical details of their upcoming supercar. Will it be any good?
The Multi-Material Body
Acura used a new ablation casting technology for the NSX’s spaceframe, which features ultra-high-strength steel A-pillars, lots of aluminum and a carbon fiber floor that also promises to be “by far the most rigid in its competitive set” which is just another way to say best in class.
The original NSX used an all aluminum spaceframe, but Shawn Tarr, principal engineer and Acura NSX body development leader says this multi-material body is a better option:
We considered all-aluminum unibody, carbon fiber monocoque and space frame designs and ultimately engineered a multi-material space frame because it offers the lowest weight and best rigidity, precision and hybrid powertrain packaging capability of any design.
Fair enough, VW, GM and BMW are also mixing steels with aluminum and/or carbon fiber, so this isn’t an unheard of move.
The above mentioned ablation casting technology combines traditional casting methods with rapid cooling techniques to allow engineers to put castings in key locations for rigidity and crush zone support:
Traditional castings provide the ultimate rigidity in space frame and other body designs, but have traditionally suffered a major drawback: traditional castings are brittle. With the no-compromise performance goals of the NSX, a groundbreaking new casting method within the crush zones had to be used.
Good. But let’s get geeky about it:
The ablation process allows the ultra-rigid castings to be located within the crush zones and to function as large aluminum nodes, or junction points. Aluminum extrusions are then inserted into sockets in the ablation cast nodes, which act as fixtures that hold the space frame in place during welding. During the welding process, shorter stitch welds can be applied, enhancing the exceptional, repeatable precision of the NSX space frame construction by reducing heat deformation during the production process. Ablation castings also enable traditional aluminum castings to be used at strategic locations in the space frame and as the primary mounting points for suspension and power unit components, in addition to being the reference and temporary attachment points during the highly accurate space frame construction process.
Acura also says that with the ultra-high-strength A-pillars will provide good visibility as well as roof crush protection.
Looks sleek, I’ll give them that.
The Hybrid Powertrain
Acura tested the crap out of the NSX in the wind tunnel, using Computational fluid dynamics and real life tests as well to optimize its airflow.
The car still employs 10 air-cooled heat exchangers responsible for cooling the front twin-motor unit, the 3.5 twin-turbo V6 engine, the rear direct-drive electric motor and the nine-speed dual clutch transmission.
The all new 3.5-liter TT needs three radiators on its own: one center and two side units. The center radiator is tilted forward 25-degrees to utilize the inherent pressure gradient while maintaining the strict low center of gravity targets. Condenser and power drive unit coolers are packaged in front of the center engine radiator.
The Twin Motor Unit is cooled passively through strategic use of air in the front motor room and by a heat exchanger mounted in front of the right engine sub-radiator.
Acura’s new nine-speed dual-clutch transmission is cooled by two heat exchangers, one mounted in front of the left engine sub-radiator and the other in the engine compartment.
The turbos got twin-intercoolers located in the side intakes to cool the intake air charge.
I told you there’s a lot of cooling. Maybe this car won’t turn into a fireball after all! Acura also promises lots of downforce and superb handling thanks to the torque vectoring of the hybrid all-wheel drive system that functions even at low speeds.
The nine-speed DCT is also connected to an electric motor that applies its torque directly to the crankshaft with immediate power delivery to the rear wheels.
The longitudinally mounted twin-turbo engine itself has both direct and port injection, plus at least 550 horsepower. The 75-degree V6 is a dry sump unit that sits very low in the chassis to keep the center of gravity somewhere down there too.
Super Duper Sport Hybrid SH-AWD
Getting that grunt to the ground is the latest and most highly evolved iteration of SH-AWD, with dynamic torque vectoring that’s been optimized so the hybrid drivetrain can get instant power to the right wheel at the right time. Part of delivering “on rails handling” (mentioned at least three times in its release) is lots of processing power, but Acura is also using good ol’ mechanical engineering, with the double-wishbone, double lower control arm front suspension decoupling from the twin motors and a variable gear ratio steering rack for more communication.
Okay, so the 2016 Acura NSX is complicated as hell, but I have a feeling that all this will reward us with more speed then we first imagined. Fingers crossed!
Photo credit: Acura
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