Photo: Motor Trend/YouTube

Even though it’s almost a decade old now, few cars at any price point can take down the Nissan GT-R. But now Honda, with its highly anticipated new NSX, wants to pull ahead of Nissan. And based on this Motor Trend test, it looks like it has done it. But not by a whole lot.

After a decade of development, the first reviews of the Acura NSX lamented the car’s less-than-visceral character, but applauded its precise handling— almost exactly the feedback Japan’s reigning champion, the Nissan GT-R, received from the media when it debuted for 2008. So with the launch of the NSX, everyone wondered: which of the two Japanese supercars is faster?


Motor Trend put the two up against one another on the track, and the newcomer actually came out on top. But only just.

The GT-R and new Acura NSX are what Jason Cammisa from Motor Trend calls “numbers cars”— in other words, cars that wow you with 0-60 and lap times, but not necessarily with Fahrvergnügen. He continues on with this excellent quote, describing the problem with these so-called “numbers cars”:

Once the numbers fade, you’re left with the experience.

And with both of these cars, Cammisa says, that experience isn’t particularly enthralling. Especially the GT-R, whose acceleration numbers aren’t that special anymore, whose engine sounds terrible, whose steering is only okay, and whose transmission doesn’t shift properly.

And the NSX ain’t much better. Both hosts in this episode of Head-To-Head expected the NSX, with its torque vectoring hybrid all-wheel drive system, to be “the best handling mid engine car ever,” but it only beat the old-timer GT-R around the track by three-quarters of a second. And that’s with the Acura’s optional R-Compound tires.

So yes, the NSX is a bit faster around a track, but considering how long Acura has been developing this thing, and how long the GT-R has been on the market, the NSX should really be a lot faster.  

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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