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Here's the thing: It doesn't actually matter if the NSX Type S is any good. Acura already sold all 300 coupes destined for North America, their $171,495 dance cards filled long ago. So it's sort of pointless to run a review in the context of whether or not you should buy one. But since the Type S is very, very good, let's talk about why you should be jealous of everyone who did.
Acura gave the second-generation NSX a number of small updates through its six-year lifespan, but the Type S is more than a culmination of those efforts -- it's truly a step above. For starters, the Type S is better looking than the standard NSX. The new front fascia has a chiseled edge while also looking more refined. You'll find carbon fiber on the Type S lip, side skirts, rear spoiler and roof, and there's a more pronounced rear diffuser inspired by the NSX GT3 race car. The headlight and taillight housings are smoked, the Acura logos are painted black and you'll find Type S badges by the wheels, which are also specific to this model. Taken as a whole, the NSX Type S looks awesome.
Unfortunately, the interior tweaks are less impressive. The most meaningful changes are some new color options for the seats, which can be done up fully in leather or in a leather/Alcantara combination. A carbon fiber interior package brings more of this weight-saving material inside the NSX, but you can only get it as part of a $13,000 lightweight package that also adds more powerful carbon ceramic brakes and a carbon fiber engine cover.
It's a shame Acura didn't put more effort into upgrading the coupe's interior since that's the main area where the NSX has always fallen short. Sure, the seats are comfy, but they lack adjustability and quickly become uncomfortable on long drives. Also, wow, it sure is cramped in here -- even by supercar standards -- and there's nowhere to put anything. The gauge cluster is only partially digital and cluttered, and the 7-inch central touchscreen runs a super-old, low-res, laggy version of parent company Honda's infotainment software. The head unit's volume knob is just like the NSX's suite of advanced driver-assistance technologies: nonexistent.
The NSX's mechanical bits haven't changed, either, but that's OK. Power still comes from a combination of a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 and a trio of electric motors -- two mounted at the front axle and a third wedged between the engine and nine-speed dual-clutch transmission. For Type S duty, the turbochargers produce 6% more boost pressure, and the injectors blast 25% more fuel into the cylinders. As a result, the engine's overall power output rises from its previous 500 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque to 520 hp and 442 lb-ft in the Type S.
The small lithium-ion battery has 20% more usable capacity, which not only increases oomph, but allows the NSX to run under fully electric power for longer periods of time (like, enough to get out of your neighborhood). Combined, the gasoline-electric powertrain cranks out a healthy 600 hp and 492 lb-ft. The NSX Type S should do the 0-to-60-mph sprint in just under 3 seconds.
Acura says the Type S has a "more emotional" engine sound, which really just means it's louder. You can keep the whole experience muffled while driving in the NSX's Quiet mode for when you don't want to be that guy in your subdivision. I also appreciate the DCT's revised tuning: It's quicker and smoother in action, and holding the left paddle for just over a half-second will automatically plunk the transmission into its lowest available gear. This is great for quickly dropping gears before entering a turn, though the NSX will also downshift under braking without needing to be asked.
Acura reprogrammed the NSX's adaptive dampers to have a wider range of settings, so the softest Quiet mode is softer than before and the most hardcore Track setting is even stiffer. This also puts more space between the intermediate Sport and Sport Plus levels, so you'll actually feel a difference when switching between them. The front and rear tracks are 0.4 and 0.8 inches wider, respectively, and the Type S rolls on staggered 19- and 20-inch wheels. Acura also fitted the Type S with stickier Pirelli P-Zero summer tires, with 245/35ZR19s up front and thick 305/30ZR20s out back.
The resulting increase in grip is noticeable while powering through tight corners on canyon roads. The NSX was already a pretty unflappable supercar and the Type S is even more so, letting me keep up my speeds through switchbacks. The suspension changes bring small steering improvements, too, as the Type S has quick reflexes without being darty or twitchy. I'd like a little more feedback through the not-quite-circular wheel, but so it goes; a small complaint in the grand scheme of things. This thing is a blast.
Crucially, the more aggressive wheel/tire setup and the new suspension tune don't kill the Type S' comfort factor -- a big part of the whole "everyday supercar" thing the NSX is known for. It's still perfectly easy to toddle around town and drive the NSX like it's a Honda Accord, with easy and progressive power delivery and a genuinely supple ride. Obviously, there are compromises: The NSX is hard to see out of, and it could really use a front axle lift to prevent scraping that carbon fiber chin. But few supercars are as amenable to daily driving as the Acura NSX.
That the Type S cranks up the NSX's performance without changing its overall demeanor is definitely Acura's biggest achievement. I'll admit, driving one makes me wish the NSX had been engineered this way from the start, though it also makes the Type S feel that much more special. To those lucky 300: Promise me you'll drive yours hard.