I’d already accepted my invitation to a Bridgestone Winter Driving School event when the company’s press officer sent me an email to let me know that, while I’d have a chance to drive solo, I’d need to have an instructor in the car with me in order to drive the Acura NSX. I read that email a few times in shock before it finally sunk in: I’d be driving an NSX on snow. It wasn’t until I arrived at the event that I received my next bit of information: The NSX wouldn’t be equipped with snow tires. Oh, no — we were hitting the track on all-seasons.
It shouldn’t have worked. And yet it did. You can absolutely hoon an Acura NSX in the snow on all-season tires.
I have a full review of the Bridgestone school coming soon, but one big component of the event was the fact that Bridgestone wanted us media personnel to sample both the company’s winter tires and its all-seasons. While a bulk of our day was spent on the company’s iconic Blizzaks, we were also given a chance to put the Blizzaks head-to-head with an all-season tire fitted to an Acura MDX. And we’d also get a chance to sample the all-seasons fitted to a supercar.
“Five years ago, an event like this would have been impossible,” retail communications personnel Rachel Withers told me at dinner. “But our tire technology has advanced so quickly that you can actually capably use an all-season tire in the snow.”
Look no further than our experiment with the NSX.
But first, let’s get some specs out of the way. The 2021 NSX was fitted with Bridgestone’s Potenza RE980AS+ tire, which is the company’s sporty all-season tire. The tread is designed to serve as a great option for wet or dry pavement, and it can even competently take on a bit of snow. I wouldn’t recommend it for daily driving if you live in a wintry area, but if you had a Potenza-shod NSX out in Kentucky during one of the state’s few snowy days of the year, you could easily get to work without a hitch.
That is, if you’re taking an NSX to work — and I can’t imagine there are many professions that would enable you to use a $160,000 supercar as your commuter. The 2021 model that I drove has Acura’s all-wheel drive technology paired with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine making 500 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. That is not a car I would normally feel comfortable taking out in poor conditions!
But I did. During our afternoon module sessions, I had about 30 minutes behind the wheel of the NSX after taking a few exploratory laps in the passenger seat with our instructor, Scott.
“I’m literally using the most minuscule inputs,” he told me. “Like, I’m putting down maybe an eighth of the throttle I normally would. That’s like one-sixteenth of a turn of the wheel.”
“Oh, God,” I said.
The one-mile track had been split into three different sections for the afternoon modules, which meant I was running a quarter-mile loop made of about five turns of varying angles, a few short straights with heavy braking zones, and one straight with a lane change maneuver. Despite its simplicity, though, I found it was almost impossible to get my bearings behind the wheel. As I’d seen all day, the braking zones changed on just about every lap depending on the exact line I took around the track — which was different just about every time — thanks to the changeable, icy conditions. What felt like a minute throttle input would send the rear fishing out on one lap and wouldn’t be enough to accelerate on the next. It was goofy as hell.
But it was so much fun. I’m sure my grip would have been better on winter tires, but I also felt confident on the all-seasons. It was mildly terrifying to hit 60 mph and then immediately brake down for a sub-90-degree corner, but it wasn’t impossible. In real-life conditions, where I’d actually be driving an NSX on the road on all-seasons, I really doubt I’d be doing it on a slick ice sheet like at the Bridgestone school.
Even the instructors and some of the other PR folks were nervous. Many of them confided in me that they thought giving auto journalists an all-season tire-equipped supercar to play with on snow could easily become a Bad Idea. It’s one of those things that shouldn’t be able to happen, but it absolutely did, because that’s just where we’re at with all-seasons now. And as far as I’m aware, no one crashed into snow berms made with icy, hard cores.
To cap the day off, everyone got two hot laps around the circuit courtesy of our instructors. I cannot even emphasize to you folks how fucking cool that was. I was giggling like a fool the whole time, telling Scott that this was so fun it should be illegal.
My laps behind the wheel did not look anywhere near as good, fast, or cool as the one shown above. But I assure you that personal hooning is possible — so long as you’re not the one responsible for crashing someone else’s car.